It’s hot in Rio Claro, São Paulo state.
At 2004 Sixth Street, on the second floor, it’s even hotter.
“We have to suffer now, to smile later,” roars Ramon Lemos, leader of Team Atos Jiu-Jitsu, when he notices some of his subordinates are taking a breather.
The sets of spars are of seven minutes divided into two periods, with fresh opponents for either time allotment.
The “later” he refers to is the Worlds 2010, just three weeks away.
Team Atos JJ has been in the spotlight ever since the black belts started reaping solid results.
Hard at it on Tuesday afternoon are Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, Cláudio “Juninho” Calasans and Ary Farias, a recent arrival at the team. Guto Campos, still in Porto Alegre, will show up shortly.
“After the kids’ success, a lot of folks showed up wanting to train, but I only accept those who I feel have something positive to contribute to the team,” revealed a critical Ramon, who plans to make some major changes to the team’s day-to-day activities.
But, without a doubt, Ramon Lemos’ cash cows are Guilherme and Rafael Mendes, who have studied under the Carioca since they were white belts.
Since they got their black belts, in October of 2008, Gui became light featherweight world champion, Rafa won the ADCC under-66kg division and taught Jiu-Jitsu lessons to Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi; and the two closed out the lightest division at the World Pro. Before that, though, they impressed (and irritated) the Jiu-Jitsu community with their 50/50 guard.
Regarding the 50/50, their response is always the same: “That’s just one part of our game.”
And it truly is, as one can plainly see when the two fight and, in even more impressive fashion, train.
In the stuffy talent factory in Rio Claro, the Mendes’ seem to be coming up with new moves all the time. When called on by the GRACIEMAG reporter to demonstrate three positions each for a future article, the two plop down on the mat and have a debate. They whittle the options down to six, from seemingly dozens they have in mind.
Once they’re done with the six, they exhibit another two in a video for GRACIEMAG.com.
First, Rafael demonstrates a triangle.
Then, Guilherme teaches a kimura.
When we finally hit the road for São Paulo, set apart by 177 km between the two cities, there’s just one thing for certain: when we meet again three weeks from now in Long Beach, the “Wizards” will have even newer moves to show.