It was 9pm on Wednesday and training at Alliance Leblon, in Rio de Janeiro, was packed with outsiders from the state of Minas Gerais, competitors in the final stages of training for the Brazilian Nationals, which continues this Saturday and ends on Sunday.
But the center of attention was that old Alexandre “Gigi” Paiva student wearing a Koral gi and broad grin on his face.
“Hey, how’s it going?” he asked Elan Santiago, also a black belt on the team, and a teacher in Nilópolis, where he heads a school for the kids from the Beija-Flor samba school.
Speechless, Elan was overcome with emotion and embraced his friend, and they chatted a bit, but Gigi quickly began teaching his class.
With the round-robin of training partners, Elan thought out loud: “Hmm, if I’m going to get to submit Tererê once in my life, it’ll be today!”
Not a chance, with the firm hip that wowed Jiu-Jitsu fans and his malleability, Tererê showed that champions never forget. Elan tried a spot-on foot attack. Fernando propped himself against the wall, spun and escaped in surprising fashion: “You think I’m a fool?” he said smiling.
So Elan tried to surprise with the turtle guard. “Ten seconds later I was cursing Telles, who taught meit. “Tererê caught me quick.”
They restarted with Tererê in the middle. The star from the Cantagalo favela faked getting caught in a sweep, came back with an omoplata and sunk and armbar. “Now I’ll get him,” thought Elan. “The guy’s been training since 4 pm and now it’s 9!” And he took flight from a sweep and tapped to a choke from back mount. Happy as could be.
“What a happy drubbing I took. When I watch him, it’s like watching Messi play ball. The way he moves is enchanting,” Elan would say, after having an açaí with the Jiu-Jitsu wizard.
It was the same jovial Tererê of always.
“It’s time to forget the past and look to the future. I want to training and get my body back into top shape. And who knows, maybe I’ll win a Worlds before ending my career,” he told GRACIEMAG.com.
We asked whether his father, Tio Barriga, could now make another t-shirt, since the “Volta, Tererê” (“Come back, Tererê”) one that became famous during the fighter’s tough times.
“Sure can, Tererê is back. Now I just have to be patient, take care of myself. My goal is to train here with Master Gigi and the folks who wish me well. I’m training three times a day and feel great. And I’ll be there at the Brazilian Nationals in Tijuca, to watch the guys compete.”