Time to pack the bags. Vacation time has come to an end and I’m heading back to Abu Dhabi. Over the last two years, ever since I went to live in the United Arab Emirates, I haven’t spent more than a week in Brazil, modern Jiu-Jitsu’s homeland. This time away from Brazil brought me to see it with different eyes. I’m able to analyze my country deeper with the perspective of someone who has the responsibility of carrying Brazil with him. I noted how Brazilianness was one of the main, if not the main, seasonings in the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle, the style of life led by anyone who lives and breathes Jiu-Jitsu anywhere across the planet.
Now on my first week here in Porto Alegre, in the country’s south, an apparently normal situation led me to meditate on our practitioners’ lifestyle. Purple belt Gabriel Tayeh, after six months of travel, reencountered his training partners Felipe Leal and Batata, as they are known, embraced them effusively before training, set up an açaí outing and set about rolling. They seem like brothers who meet up again in the living room of the house where they were brought up.
That’s how Jiu-Jitsu practitioners behave in Brazil. The academy, or more specifically, the dojo, becomes a second home to most, and their training partners, their family.
The master, besides being a teacher, can be a dear friend, a surfing partner, a companion at parties and even the goal keeper in Saturday soccer games.
That’s not typical with all martial arts. That is typical of the Brazilian people. This human warmth, this receptivity, this complicity with others is ingrained in Jiu-Jitsu almost unintentionally. Here the fighters tattoo their academies’ emblems on their bodies, lots of athletes never paid monthly fees because their masters are like their fathers. The laid-back atmosphere during training is a cut right out of the country. The master, besides being a teacher, can be a dear friend, a surfing partner, a companion at parties and even the goal keeper in Saturday soccer games.
The Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle and Brazil meld into one another. Probably, if Count Koma had decided to set down roots in another country, we wouldn’t have the gentle art as our way of living life. We all carry Brazilianness in our Jiu-Jitsu. We all consume Brazilianness at all four corners of the world, by absorbing it. To export Jiu-Jitsu is to export Brazil.
It happens that Biel is of Palestinian origins, Batata from a Jewish family. In the holy land of Jiu-Jitsu, little miracles like this one happen every day.