This post is going to be what I’m sure most of you come here to read about, and that is training. Here in Curitiba I’ve been training at CM System, which if you aren’t aware is the academy of Cristiano Marcello. Cristiano is pretty well known in the MMA world, especially to the hardcore fans of the sport who watched Pride. He is known by some because of a backstage fight he had with Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett in which he choked him out with a triangle choke, but more importantly he is also known as a great fighter and the former jiu jitsu coach of some of the top fighters today and legends in the sport such as Anderson Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Wanderlei Silva, and many others.
Cristiano has assembled a great team of coaches and fighters at his academy. Training here is hard. I know everyone says that training is always hard, but here it’s a different type of hard. It’s not just strength and conditioning you to death. They train like they fight. Sparring is hard. The first MMA class I took we sparred with regular mma gloves, no headgear, just like a normal fight. We weren’t throwing 100%, and admittedly my training partners went real easy on me as they would have destroyed me, but you’re still getting punched, kicked, and grappling for real. It’s much different than what I’ve seen at many gyms in the states. In Rio I know the mma training is pretty similar, but I only did a few no-gi classes there.
Muay Thai is just as hard. In my last post I shared a video I made in one of the morning classes. I had to leave after watching a lot of the sparring for a meeting I had, but after that video was taken one of the guys who had a fight coming up was thrown in the ring and from what I hear it was pretty much an in-house smoker. Heavyweights were going at it just like they would in front of a crowd. The sparring I was watching was enough to make me happy I was on that side of the camera lens, so I can only imagine how it went after I left.
The jiu jitsu here is top notch. Cristiano himself gives most of the classes. The format is similar to what we did at Gordo’s academy. You have a warmup in the beginning of class, one or two techniques are shown, and then on to sparring. You kind of pick and choose sparring partners instead of standing on the wall and having the instructor pair you up, but I’ve still rolled with a multitude of skill levels since I’ve been here. As the academy is only about 2 years old, the class is a little more diverse with belts than was the case at Gordo’s. It’s pretty similar to many of the gyms I’ve been to in the states. There is a good amount of white, blue, and purple belt students, and then a few brown and black belts also in the mix. There are more black belts than you normally see in the states, but I haven’t seen 10 or 12 on the mat at one time here yet.
One unique part of the jiu jitsu training here is that although you’re wearing the gi, Cristiano teaches many of the concepts as they would be in no-gi. This mainly translates to changing your grips, but if you just want to focus on the gi aspect of your game the techniques are easily changed to fit the gi. I’ve been trying to focus on hand placement as opposed to my specific grips, so if all else fails I can grab on to whatever is in reach. I’ve seen a lot of different things since I’ve been here, including some really interesting half guard sweeps that I can’t wait for the opportunity to use (I haven’t been positionally inclined to use them yet).
The academy itself is real nice as well. They really work to keep the place clean and the appearance of the gym is great. There is a large mat area, a boxing ring, bathrooms, showers, and a large changing room. There are a few heavy bags hanging as well if you want to work your hands or legs on your own. You can tell that both the fighters and Cristiano himself really care about the gym, and have a lot of pride in the team. Everyone helps everyone out, and although they battle it out on the mats and in the ring, there is definitely a great team atmosphere. With me coming from the outside, everyone has been nothing short of great with me. I can’t explain how nice it is to come from out of the country and have that kind of acceptance. No one has tried to intentionally work me over or come at me because I’m foreign. Make no mistake, you get what you give here, but if you work at your skill level the other guys will work with you at that level too.
I’ll have some pictures of the academy up soon, as well as a review of the apartment that is offered to those who want to come from out of the country to train here like myself. If anyone reading here has any specific questions about the academy or training, feel free to ask away. I’m always willing to help someone else out who is looking to follow a similar path to my own. As always, comments, suggestions, and bashing are always welcome as well!