“Rodrigo Cavaca here. I’m writing straight from the airport in Switzerland, where I’m waiting for my flight to São Paulo. I’m coming from Poland, after nearly a month in Europe. First I stopped through Lithuania, where I spent eight days teaching at my affiliate school. I started work over there three years ago, and now we can note great progress over there.
“I always go in January, at around European Open time, and do the year’s promotions. This time I promoted blue belts, purple belts and two brown belts. It was great. And I also spent my birthday there, even had a surprise party on the mat!
“After Lithuania I went to Portugal, where I met up with my friend Chaves and the rest of the CheckMat team. I went to Portugal to help my team, not to compete at the European Open. I signed up just for the heck of it, but I knew I wasn’t prepared to make it to the finals, having come off knee surgery and returned to training three weeks before the trip. It was even a quick recovery.
“The problem was that I got a bacterial infection in my back and only managed to train one week. That came after being sidelined ever since the 2010 Worlds.
“That was when I woke up Saturday morning in the hotel and told Chaves: “I’m down for it, I’m going to compete in the absolute today!” He told me I was nuts.
“There I went, and I won the first two matches by footlock. Then I lost to Sérgio in the semifinal, which I was winning up until the last thirty seconds, but I slipped up and he made a meal of it: he got me with my own medicine.
“He really deserved it, he had an excellent championship and won. The bad part is that that footlock hurt me really badly, and I thought everything had gone down the tubes. After all, I went to Europe to do the Abu Dhabi Pro Polish tryouts, which would happen two weeks after the European Open.
“After Lisbon, I went to teach seminars in London, a city I’d never been to before. Then we went to Gniezno, in Poland, where we went to the academy of Przemo Gnat, a Roberto Drysdale student, and there we did a training camp with all the Drysdale branches in Poland, there were lots of people.
“And that’s what I did for ten days, up until the day of the tryouts. The tryouts were tough, since Lovato, Bernardo Faria, Léo Nogueira, Allan Finfou, Gargamel, José Junior, Ary Farias, Bob Esponja, Raphael Chaves and Bruno Alves were there – not to mention the burly Polish fighters who were there.
“So there I went, with my foot messed up and without having trained, trying to win a place in Abu Dhabi. There were only two matches to get the place, but they were tough matches – the first against Turek, a Polish fighter who competed at ADCC 2009, and the final with José Junior.
“I beat Turek 4 to 0 and went through to the final against José. Tough kid that one, wore everyone out and made it to the weight and open weight class finals.
“Everything went well and I won by 2 to 0, when I sunk a footlock and he rolled out of the area. In the end he brought on a lot of pressure trying to pass guard, but I managed. I was dead tired, but I got the spot!
“Now I have to take care of my foot in Santos and start preparing for the World Pro in Abu Dhabi in April. I’ll be taking quite a team. At my weight there’ll be Bochecha and Juninho da Paraíba. Also from CheckMat, in the other weight groups, there’ll be Helder Bob Esponja, Finfou, Michelle Nicolini, Gabriel Palito and a bunch of others. I can only thank the team and the ones who helped me make it.”