So, you want to set out on an adventure to train Jiu Jitsu in Brazil?
You’ve trained BJJ for a while and want to know what it’s like training in the birthplace of Jiu Jitsu. The problem is you may not know where to start when planning your trip.
Don’t worry. Training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil is a very special experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You will see amazing sites, eat great foods, and make some lifelong memories and friends from training Jiu Jitsu.
This is the ultimate guide to training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil.
We’ve done a ton of research and even consulted a native jiujiteiro from Rio de Janeiro to help us gather as much information as possible, to help you have the best trip possible.
We will explain everything from how to go about planning your trip, safety tips, and Brazilian BJJ school etiquette.
We will also list some of the best BJJ schools in Brazil by city with a brief description for each one to help you map out your trip.
So let’s proceed to the first thing your should do when planning your trip to Brazil.
Consult Your Brazilian Coaches or Teammates(If you have them)
Before we get into our guide for training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil, ask yourself this. Do you have a Brazilian coach or teammate at your home BJJ academy?
If you do happen to have a Brazilian coach or teammate, they can help you with some of the questions you might have.
They can make planning your trip a lot easier, ask them things you want to know about training and vacationing in Brazil.
Remember there’s nothing better than getting your info directly from a local.
They can tell you where to eat, what to see, and where to stay during your trip, especially if you’re visiting their home city.
Often times they can get in contact with their old teammates and coaches before your arrival. They can set you up with academies to train at and have people show you around. You may even get a place to stay during your trip, who knows.
Planning a trip with someone you personally know that is from Brazil would be the most ideal situation, but not always possible.
You’re likely to be doing this trip alone or with your friends, if that’s the case you’ll find this article on training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil very useful.
How To Start Planning Your Jiu Jitsu Trip to Brazil?
Before you book your flights and reserve your hotel rooms there’s a few thing to consider.
- Where Do You Want To Go? Choose what city(ies) you would like to visit. There’s great Jiu Jitsu all over Brazil, so it’s really your preference on where you want to visit.
- When Do You Want To Go? Remember that the seasons are reversed between North and South America. If you want to go in the Summer months in the US it will be the winter months in Brazil. It’s generally hot most of the year, but cold weather can sneak up on you depending where you go.
- How Long Do You Want To Stay? 2 weeks would be the minimum stay. A week is just not enough time and probably not worth buying a thousand dollar plane ticket for. Make an adventure out of your Jiu Jitsu trip to Brazil, stay awhile and get some great training in.
- Where Do You Want To Train? Know where you want to train before you go and do the research on the schools. Having your training schedule set before you go will make your trip run a lot smoother.
If you have a good idea on when and where you want to visit you can start planning your trip right away.
Will The Trip Be Expensive?
This totally depends on you and your budget.
You can keep it low key if you don’t want to spend too much or you can party it up big time, choice is yours.
Doing things in Brazil won’t be as expensive due to the fact that you have USD currency. 4 reais (Brazil’s currency) to a 1 dollar, so you can do a lot of things while spending less.
However just getting to Brazil can be quite expensive. Paying for airline tickets alone will cost you a bit of money.
A round trip ticket to Brazil can cost anywhere from $900 to over $2000. The cost will vary on when you want to go and what city you want to fly into. Also the type of ticket you get.
If you don’t mind a few stops in other countries, you could probably save money on a ticket. Somewhere in the ballpark of $800-$1200. Maybe less if you choose a ticket that has stops with long layovers.
A nonstop flight will likely cost you over $1500.
Whichever option you choose, you will have a 10+ hour trip ahead of you if you’re coming from the US.
So, get ready to watch some movies, read a book, and eat some mediocre airplane food as you fly over to train Jiu Jitsu in Brazil.
No Need For A Visa
One good thing is as of last year, you don’t need a travel visa to enter Brazil. The Brazilian government waived this visa in order to help boost tourism.
You’re still going to need your passport and that will run you around $145 at your local city hall or post office.
Don’t forget your passport before going to the airport or you won’t be going on your training trip.
Be sure to try and remember to use WiFi where it is available whenever possible.
You will eat up your data very quickly if you don’t remember to use WiFi.
Depending on your cell phone provider, you could be looking at quite a large phone bill when you get home.
Notify Your Bank
Before going on your trip it would be a good idea to notify your bank that you’re going on a trip to Brazil.
Some credit and debit cards have travel blocks on them and can only be used in the US. Make sure to call your bank to check if you have a block and have them remove it.
Notifying your bank of your trip is also a good idea, so they won’t assume suspicious activity. You don’t want to be left stranded in Brazil with blocked cards.
Also, the card readers in Brazil are different than in the US. When you buy something always mark it as credit(even if it isn’t), so the transaction will be approved.
Research and Contact Jiu Jitsu Gyms In Brazil
It would be a really good idea to do your research on what Jiu Jitsu academies in Brazil you want to train at (we have a list below).
This way you know what their schedules are and where they are located, and how much you need to pay.
The next thing you need to do is contact the gyms you want to visit. Let them know that you’re an American coming to Brazil and want to train at their gym. They will make arrangements and be prepared for your arrival once you arrive for your first class.
It is a lot better to do these things before you arrive in Brazil rather than going in blind. You’ll have all the info you need and the school will be better prepared to help you when you come in.
Safety Travel Tips While In Brazil
Next in the ultimate guide to training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil, we’ll go over safety travel tips, while in Brazil. Remember these tips so you can stay safe and have a good time in Brazil.
Brazil is a wonderful country, but has it’s problems. It has a high poverty and crime rate and is run by corrupt leaders. Be mindful of where you are and take precautions.
Don’t Walk Around With Lots Of Cash
Always a rule to remember when traveling to a different country. Don’t make yourself a target for thieves by carrying large sums of cash on you.
There’s a good chance you’ll be pick pocketed or mugged if you’re seen carrying a lot of money.
Stay Out Of The Favelas
If you don’t know, the favelas are the poor areas in Brazil. The buildings are dilapidated and the streets are filled with trash.
These areas are filled with criminals and drug addicts, and poor people just trying to get by.
A rule in Brazil is if you don’t live there, then you don’t go there. It would be a good idea for you to follow this rule and stay safe.
Stay Near The BJJ School(s)
There’s reasons why you should try to find a place to stay near the Jiu Jitsu school you’re training at.
Convenience and to save money.
Most of the streets of Brazil are moderately safe to walk around, so you should have no problems. It will also save you money not having to pay for transportation every time you want to go to class.
Many schools are a quick walk away in most areas and walking the best way to see a new city.
You’ll get the vibe of the city and see cool things you’d never see in the states.
Believe me, if you are an American coming to Brazil, you don’t want to use public transit.
Your personal space will be invaded in a bus that is over capacity by a hundred people. It’s cheap, but it’s hot, uncomfortable, and takes forever to get to your destination.
That’s why you should always use Uber if you’re traveling out of walking distance. It may sound expensive, but remember the currency difference.
You will be paying a quarter of the price you would in the US.
A trip that would be $50 in the US will only be around $10-$12 in Brazil.
Check Your Bank Accounts
Be sure to constantly check your bank accounts while in Brazil. Just like at home it’s good to check your accounts at the end of the to see all of your purchases.
This is to make sure your account is protected and no unauthorized purchases are on your account. You don’t want to be stuck in a different country with no money.
Do You Need To Learn Portuguese?
This is a question many people traveling to Brazil for Jiu Jitsu often ask.
Truth is you don’t have to worry about being fluent in Portuguese, but learning simple words and sentences will do you well.
Here are a few words and short sentences for you to learn before your trip.
- Bom Dia: Good morning
- Boa Tarde: Good afternoon
- Boa Noite: Goodnight
- Prazer: Pleasure or nice meet you
- Tudo Bem: Both a question and an answer. Are you okay? I’m okay
- Onde: Where
- Quanto: How much
- Com licença: Excuse me
- Disculpe: Sorry
- Quanto: How much
- Obrigado(a): Thank you
- Tchau: Bye
- Desculpa nao falo portugues: Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese
If you learn simple words and sentences like these, you should be okay traveling in Brazil.
Google Translate Is Your Friend
The amazing thing about living in this time is that you have access to communicate with anyone in the world. There are a few translation apps available for download on your phone.
Google Translate is one of the most used with thousands of languages available including Portuguese.
There is a microphone option for you to communicate with the locals that don’t speak English.
Definitely download a translation app like Google Translate to communicate better with the locals.
Come To Brazil In Shape
If you travel all the way to Brazil to train Jiu Jitsu, you better come in shape.
You should do this to get most out of your Jiu Jitsu training experience in Brazil.
Brazilians train hard and if you’re not in tip top shape you might regret not being better prepared.
Be in shape, ready to go, and get as much time on the mats as you can on your stay.
Gym Etiquette In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Schools
This is something people always wonder about what is different about BJJ schools in Brazil.
What are the rules, how you should conduct yourself, and what is the training like?
In this guide to training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil we’re going to answer all of those questions.
Check out our article on BJJ gym etiqutte.
Is It More Traditional?
Yes, more or less the same as a traditional school in the US.
You line up in rank with the black belts up front and the other belts behind them.
The black belts are also called professors as they hold the highest rank in the gym.
Most Brazilian black belts only pull rank on occasion.This could be black belts only rolling the first round if there are many in class.
Other occasions could be asking for space to train or choosing to roll with you if you’re already partnered up.
But if you already go to a gym with a Brazilian instructor it is basically the same structure.
Just less English and maybe more black belts on the mat.
The Culture of Brazilian BJJ Gyms
Jiu Jitus schools in Brazil are special places with a positive atmosphere.
A lot of the time, the people in the gyms are more than just training partners. They are a tight knit group that feel like a big family.
BJJ is a community and this is especially so in Brazilian BJJ schools.
When you go to class remember to do these things to make your training experience in Brazil a positive one.
Be sure to say hello to everyone before class starts.
This is a sign of respect and something you must do before and after class.
Always go to class with a positive attitude and you will always have a positive experience.
People will see that you’re a cool person and want to train with you.
Even if you don’t understand what is being said, you understand Jiu Jitsu.
Watch the techniques like you would in the US and pay attention to every detail.
Ask questions when you need to.
Watch The Leg Locks
Most gyms go by the IBJJF rule set, so if you’re a leg locker take care.
You may upset a training partner going for a heel hook and then it’s porrada time.
Give Effort And Train Hard!
Put 100% into everything you do in class. For a lot of grapplers in Brazil, BJJ is their life.
If you try and train hard, you’ll have their respect and probably their friendship.
Format Of A Brazilian BJJ Class
There is honestly not much difference between the format of BJJ classes in the US and Brazil. The same affiliates that are in both countries run the same type of classes.
A normal class lasts around 60-90 minutes and is broken up into warm ups, technique, and rolling. Just like a class in the states would be run.
The class could start with a warm up and do different stretches. If there’s a lot of people, the professor may just go straight into technique.
For the technique part of class, the instructor may go over a sequence of 2 or 3 things for 30mins. An example is a sweep, then do a couple other variations of the sweep if the opponent defends.
Generally, the class will work from that position for a week, then move on to something the next week. Similar to many schools in the US.
Rolling is about an hour long and depending on the gym they can go longer. You will have your cardio tested, but it’ll be a great experience for you.
How Are The People In Brazilian BJJ Schools
Brazilians are some of the nicest people in the world and they are always happy to you. This is especially so in Brazilian BJJ schools.
They are always happy to see you and will want to train with you every time you’re in class.
Most Brazilians love Americans and this is especially so in a place like Rio.
Even if they don’t speak your language, they will want to communicate with you and get to know you. It really feels like a family atmosphere in Brazilian BJJ schools.
At the end of your trip, you will probably make lifelong friends that can’t wait for you to return.
Aside from the BJJ, this is probably the best part of a training trip to Jiu Jitsu.
How Good Are They?
The people you will be training with are among some of the best BJJ athletes in the world. At any given class and school, you will probably be training with national and international level competitors.
These monsters train hard nearly everyday multiple times a day. Jiu Jitsu is life for a lot of these guys, but don’t be intimidated. They’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Prepare to get in some great training and learn a lot working these amazing grapplers when you train Jiu Jitsu in Brazil.
Do They Speak English?
A lot of them do not speak English, but there are usually a few that can speak a little. They will always try to help you and make sure you understand everything going on in class.
Brazil is a little different than in the US with learning new languages. They are more open to learning new languages and especially English for a couple of reasons.
Brazilians love American culture like music and movies, so they may learn for this reason. The other reason is for professional purposes as learning English will help them get better paying jobs.
Your new teammates that speak English will also always want to talk with you and improve their English. They may even help you with your Portuguese.
Do I Need To Know Portuguese For BJJ Class?
Like we said earlier in the article it isn’t a must, but knowing some will go a long way. Since you already understand BJJ, you’ll be okay.
Although understanding some BJJ lingo in Portuguese when training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil will definitely help you out.
To go along with the words and short sentences posted earlier, here are words to know for BJJ class.
- Braços: Arms
- Pernas: Legs
- Mãos: Hands
- Quadril: Hips
- Ombro: Shoulder
- Joelhos: Knees
- Tornozelo: Ankle
- Pé: Foot
- Peito: Chest
- Dedos: Fingers
- Dedos do Pé: Toes
- Barriga: Belly
- Guarda: Guard
- Meia Guarda: Half Guard
- Guarda Aranha: Spider Guard
- Guarda de Ganchos: Butterfly Guard
- Montada: Mount
- Triângulo: Triangle choke
- Triângulo de Braço: Arm Triangle
- Rolar: Roll
- Pegadas: Grips
- Mata-Leão: RNC
- Estrangulamento: Strangle
- Faixa: Belt
- Cansado: Tired
- Machucado: Injured
- Descansar: Rest
- Bora: Go
- Porrada: Fight(When they say porrada that means they’re going hard.)
How Much Are Gym Fees?
Much cheaper than the US but drop in fees vary.
You could buy a monthly membership to 1 or maybe 2 schools for less than a $100 combined. One gym in the US is usually between $100-$200.
It is a steal at the price you pay to train with some of the world’s best grapplers.
You could also possibly train for free if you train with the same affiliate school you already attend in America.
With some affiliations, if you pay for one school it gives you access to the other schools.
Check with your professors if this is true for affiliates in Brazil.
Are Spare Gis Available?
If it is a school that requires the same uniform ala Gracie JJ, Gracie Barra, or Alliance, then yes.
But I sincerely hope you do not forget your gis at home and have to use possibly unwashed loaner gis.
Drink Plenty Of Water
The heat of Brazil is no joke to train in. It isn’t a bs story it gets pretty hot during training.
Your gi will be doused in sweat after every training session.
Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay cool and not overheat. You don’t want an unexpected trip to a Brazilian hospital with heat exhaustion.
Jiu Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the birthplace of BJJ and is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Every area of Rio is stacked with some of the best BJJ schools in the world.
Here is a list of the best schools in Rio, as well as some of the more historical ones.
This is a historic gym, where master Helio Gracie taught classes for decades.
He and Carlos opened this school in 1952 and is still going strong in the Humaita region of Rio.
The main school is run by Rolker Gracie and there are multiple locations within the city.
Brazilian Top Team
This school is located in the Lagoa region of Rio and is run by BJJ and MMA legend Murilo Bustamante.
There’s many strong grapplers and MMA fighters there. If you’re around the Lagoa area during your trip this is a good choice.
Brazilian Black Belt
Former world champion Felipe Costa’s state of the art school is located in Ipanema.
It is near the beach and Professor Felipe is a great instructor and can speak English.
These are some of the toughest schools in Rio de Janeiro. Master Julio Caesar created GF Team and his black belt students have schools scattered across all of Rio.
Schools like Merck, Meier, Central, and Anil can have 50 or more people training in a class.
If you are coming to Brazil to get hard, world class training in, these are the schools to attend.
Gracie Barra HQ
This is where Gacie Barra was founded and the HQ is run by Jefferson Moura.
Also much like in the US cities, there are multiple GB locations in Rio. If you’re a Gracie Barra student, you can spend your time in Rio touring the various GB academies.
Professor Alexandre “Gigi” Paiva runs this fantastic gym near the beach in a beautiful area called Leblon.
Gigi is one of the co founders of Alliance BJJ and one of the best coaches in the world. Don’t be surprised to see.
Alliance’s top competitors drop in or former world champions like Fernando Terere
Since we just mentioned Fernando, we’ll include his gym that is close to Alliance Rio.
Terere is a world champion and innovator that is known for his guard passing. Many Alliances members cross train with Fernando, so you might get the chance to learn from a world champion.
Carlson Gracie Academy
Founded by BJJ pioneer Carlson Gracie Sr this is another historical school in Rio.
It’s been open for almost 60 years and now there are many great Carlson schools in the city.
Each one has professors with well over 20 years of experience running the programs like Carlson would.
Checkmat HQ(Fight Zone)
Checkmat HQ is located in the beautiful Copacabana area near Brazil run by Master Ricardo Veira.
Here you can share the mats with BJJ world champions like Jackson Sousa. You’ll definitely get solid training sessions here.
If you don’t know who Master Gordo is he basically invented the half guard game.
He is an innovator and constantly has the top BJJ athletes in the world coming through his academy.
If you want to sharpen up your half guard game consider going here.
Equipe 1(De La Riva BJJ)
Another legend in BJJ Carlos De La Riva runs his school Equipe 1 in Copacabana.
You have the opportunity to learn the De La Riva guard from the innovator himself.
Fantastic coach and gym.
Jiu Jitsu in São Paulo
São Paulo is the biggest city in Brazil 5 hours south of Rio. It is known for being a bustling metropolis and having great Jiu Jitsu.
Here are some of the best BJJ schools São Paulo has to offer.
Alliance São Paulo
Many agree that Alliance São Paulo is one of the best BJJ academies in the world.
This is where Alliance members make their pilgrimage to train for worlds.
Names like Nicholas Meregali, Gabi Garcia, and Sergio Moraes frequent this great BJJ academy and you can train with them.
Guigo Jiu Jitsu
Luiz “Guigo” Guilherme runs this school close to São Paulo and it is a great choice if you’re in the city. Guigo is a former world champion and has also won many national and regional tournaments in Brazil.
There has been nothing, but positive reviews about this school if you’d like to check it out.
Barbosa Jiu Jitsu
If you want to sharpen up your guard passing and turtle guard this is a good school to visit.
Professor Marcos “Barbosinha” Barbosa is a long time BJJ and Judo black belt that has been teaching for over 20 years.
Barbosa Jiu Jitsu is a top training camp in Brazil and a great school to attend.
Professor Cicero is a product of Barbosa Jiu Jitsu and runs a great gym in the city.
He also runs a social project called Lutando Pelo Bem, a nonprofit to give the chance for poorer kids to train. Cicero is a great guy and runs a good academy
Rocian Gracie Jr Gracie Academy
Master Rocian is the nephew of Carlos Gracie and received his black belt from Carlson Gracie.
He is a 5th degree BJJ black belt and runs a top notch academy in São Paulo.
Rocian runs a traditional Gracie academy with a fundamentally sound system you’ll get a lot out of.
Jiu Jitsu in Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte is known for producing some of the best BJJ athletes in the world.
It is also a very cool city to explore on your trip. If you find yourself in the city check out some of these great gyms.
Gracie Barra Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte is home to one of the best Gracie Barra gyms in the world. Their mats are flooded with people just like in the US and you’ll learn from their great professors.
Definitely recommend here if you’re a GB student or want a real BJJ training experience in Brazil.
One of the best Jiu Jitsu athletes in the world calls Belo Horizonte home in Felipe “Preguiça” Pena.
He opened his own state of the art gym FP Team and it is a beautiful academy.
If you have the opportunity to train with one of the best grapplers in the world take it.
Cassão Team Jiu Jitsu Academy
Another great choice if you find yourself in Belo Horizonte.
Master Cassio Francis trained under Draculino Magalhaes and has worked hard to open his own academy.
He runs a top notch program and you’ll learn a lot during your stay in Belo Horizonte.
Jiu Jitsu in Curitiba
Curitiba is known for being the home of famed MMA and Kickboxing gym Chute Box.
With famed MMA fighters like Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva.
But Curitiba is also home to great BJJ schools and here are a few of them.
Atos Loyalty Curitiba
One of the sister academies to Andre Galvao’s Atos Academy is located in the heart of Curitiba.
Atos is one of the top affiliations in the world with numerous world champions.
You’ll have a mat full of some of the best grapplers to train with here and get some awesome training in.
Chute Boxe Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu
We can’t talk about BJJ in Curitiba and not bring up Chute Box.
It is more known for Muay Thai and MMA, but it also has a history of great BJJ.
This gym is legendary for being tough, but definitely check out it’s solid BJJ program.
Carlson Gracie Curitiba
A solid Carlson Gracie affiliate makes its home in Curitiba.
Led by Roger “Xuxa” Holz, who was giving his black belt personally by Carlson Gracie Jr.
This school has a solid BJJ and MMA program if you’re ever in town.
Jiu Jitsu in Brasília
We can forget naming some BJJ schools that are located in Brazil’s capital.
If traveling to Brasília is on your travel itinerary, then see if you can check out these schools.
Black Team Jiu Jitsu
This gym is aptly named since almost the entire academy is black.
This school is led by instructor Rodrigo Bicudinho, a world champion and 10x IBJJF Rio de Janeiro champion.
He is a former Gracie Barra student, so you’ll tighten up your fundamentals at this school.
Gracie Barra Brasília
There are a whopping 7 Gracie Barra locations in Brazil’s capital.
Great option if you’re an American GB student traveling in Brazil. For everyone else with no other options, but want to train check one out and borrow a spare gi.
Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Guara
The Ribeiro brothers Saul and Xande have created a solid BJJ affiliation with Ribeiro Bros Jiu Jitsu.
They have a great affiliation in Brasília that has 4 great black belt instructors running classes.
Always good training in a Ribeiro Brothers school.
Which City Is The Best To Visit?
Rio de Janiero would probably be the best city to visit for your training trip in Brazil.
It is like going to the mecha of Jiu Jitsu with numerous great BJJ schools to train at.
This is where Jiu Jitsu was created and every practitioner should consider making a trip to the city.
Sites In Rio
There’s also a lot to see and do in between training in Rio. Here are a few fun things you can do when you aren’t training.
The Christ Redeemer
What trip to Brazil wouldn’t be complete without seeing the giant Jesus statue in the heart of Rio de Janeiro?
It’s a long hike and an all day event getting there, but the view is breathtaking.
You can see the entire city from atop one of the city’s biggest mountains.
The city and state have numerous beaches and many BJJ schools are a short walk from them.
One of the most known areas with a great beach is Copacabana.
After training, you can head to the beach, get some sun, and drink coconut water straight from a coconut. Maybe surf or even check out some of Copacabana’s famous nightlife.
If you need a break from the heat, Rio has some of the largest and best shopping malls in the world.
Shopping Rio Sul and Barra Shopping are two of the biggest, where you can relax in the air condition, shop, and eat something.
Brazilian Street Art
One thing that makes the city unique is that it is filled with beautiful street art.
You could spend a month in the city and only see a fraction of the city’s art.
Some of the best street artists in the world live here and you should take the opportunity to see their work.
The Food In Brazil
We can’t forget to mention the great food Brazil has to offer.
This country has some of the best food on the planet and you get to try some of it.
After training you gotta eat, so here are some of the best options for you to try during your stay.
If you’re a self respecting student of BJJ, you have to eat açaí during your stay.
It’s a nice cold treat that tastes amazing after hard training.
Brazilian style barbecue will hit the spot after a long day of training.
Everything from grilled steaks, chicken, sausage, and bread that are amazing.
If you’re a meat eater no trip to Brazil is complete without hitting up a Brazilian steakhouse.
Plates of different types of steak are carried around for you to eat until you explode.
Always a good experience.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are widely available everywhere in Brazil.
Also some of the native Brazilian fruits you’ve probably never eaten fresh like guava, guarana, passion fruit, and champagne oranges.
The last and most important thing we’ll include in the ultimate guide to training Jiu Jitsu in Brazil is this. Have fun.
You are about to experience one of the best moments of your life training in the birthplace of BJJ.
You’re going to meet great people that’ll be your friend for life, eat good food, and see amazing sites.
Brazil is a very special place with a vibe like no other, so remember to have fun and stay safe.