First Visit to Tatame Legal!

Highlight of my day today was visiting and training with the kids at Tatame Legal* this evening. Look at how sweet they are! Class is taught in a community center in the Morro Azul favela by none other than the wonderful Fabiano. This article from Gracie Mag about Tatame Legal is great, and has pictures of some of the kids that I trained with tonight. Everything in the article is true about Fabiano: He’s worked his ass off clearly to make this an opportunity available for these kids. I was impressed with how down to earth they all were, how open they were to me, and the sense of discipline and humility on the mats. It was such an honor to get to train with them.

Master Fabiano on the left, and his younger students on the right. Love the kid all the way to the right who’s totally not paying attention to his instructor.

A funny thing I realized: Out of the adult men, the adult women, and the Tatame Legal teenagers (they’re around ages 12-18) that I’ve now trained BJJ with here in Rio, the last two groups have by far been the most welcoming. What I also find funny is that the teenagers are the EASIEST for my to understand when it comes to language. Perhaps because they speak more simply.. but I found myself much more comfortable communicating (even when I didn’t know how to say something in Portuguese and had to describe it with limited vocabulary) with the teens than with the adults.

As I left Tatame Legal tonight, one of the girls asked me if I would be coming to their next class. That made me want to give her such a big hug. : )

As for the rest of my day: I did a 2-hour aerial class at Base Dinâmica again in the morning, followed by the adult mixed-gender BJJ class at Academia Upper, followed by dinner, and then my visit to Tatame Legal.

..I’m definitely going to be sore tomorrow.


*Tatame Legal is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program primarily aimed at teaching BJJ to the children who live in the favela Morro Azul, in Rio de Janeiro. It was founded by Fabiano “Babu” Freitas (who himself grew up in Morro Azul) about 4 years ago. Through BJJ, he aims to help his students learn discipline and social skills, as well as grow their self-confidence. He teaches a class for those under the age of 12 on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm, and a class for ages 12-18 on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm.

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