Fight For A Cause: Toro Cup 4

Interview conducted by Andrew Morris (Moz) a Purple belt from England who is currently living and training alongside Mestre Terere in the Cantagalo Favela. Read more from Moz on his own blog Tales From Deep Half

On September 10th Cageside MMA in North Carolina played host to the Toro Cup 4 – a card of invitational jiu-jitsu super-fights. Whilst this event followed in the footsteps of submission-only events that are fast becoming the norm within jiu-jitsu, this one was special, with proceeds from the day being donated to Terere Kids Project. This event was the brainchild of the owner of Toro BJJ & Cageside MMA, James ‘Boomer’ Hogaboom and CJ Murdock, a black belt under Jerry Moreno and student of Terere. We had a chance to catch up with both guys:  

CJ, you just spent 6 months living and training in Rio. How was that experience?

CJ: It was amazing, life changing and overall extremely humbling of an experience.

There are many world-class academies situated in Rio, why did you choose to train with Terere?

CJ: Well, the main reason I went to Terere’s was, of course, to train with Terere. When I first got to Connection Rio, I immediately became friends with a fellow housemate called, Arthur who trained there and as soon as I heard that’s where he was training, I said “he’s there, like I can go train with him?” Arthur said, “yes” and from then I was hooked!

Terere to me is the secret Michael Jordan of our sport. He’s a world champion, one of the best jiu-jiteros of all time and I had the opportunity to go and play with him! Of course, I was going to take it. I was young, 15 or 16 when I started to get into jiu-jitsu and my brother and I would watch this video called, Arte Suave and they visited the original TT (Terere and Telles) camp, you saw Galvao and Cobrinha training there, and those guys were my idols. Terere taught those guys so I had to learn from the master himself. How could you not play basketball with Michael Jordan?

With so much time spent on the mats with Terere, can you provide any insight into what it is like training with the legend? And what you were able to learn from him?

CJ: Other than amazing, it was a humbling experience. I don’t use this word enough, but it was an honest blessing. I am such a big fan of his and seeing just how humble and honest he was, was an experience that I will never forget.

He gave me a huge hug when we met, shared his tea with me and we even trained together on that first day. I think the first day I was there, they signed me up to compete and I was like “I guess I am training here all the time now!” His academy was welcoming and everyone was down to train, so how could I not go back?

Having spent a lot of time in the community, you have seen what life is like for the children there. How has this influenced you?

CJ: It makes me just want to work harder and stay even more humble, it’s insane some of the circumstances that people are forced to live in, in the favela. I am very glad that Terere is there to help them because there aren’t too many out there trying to.

In your opinion is the FT Kids Project a success?

CJ: Yes, because every kid on the mat says that it is. Every gi on the kids who without the project would not have had one, says so. The snack program, everything. Mestre Terere and professors Fabricio and Noguiera definitely give their hearts to these kids and it is truly inspiring.

Boomer, how did you get involved? What made you think this cause was important?

Boomer: I became familiar with the project because of CJ.  He told me what a great cause it was and that it directly helps children. There are not “admin” costs like with so many charities.   Jiu-Jitsu is so important to me. Jiu-Jitsu can turn someone’s life around and have such a positive impact.

You can up with the original idea of combining a super-fight card with a fundraiser. How did this come about?

Boomer: Jeff Shaw came up with the idea of the Toro Cup.  A day of Jiu-Jitsu super-fights which raises money and awareness for positive charities.  To date with have raised/donated $6650 for 4 different charities. 

Can you tell us a little about the Toro Cup – how were the matches structured? Strictly Gi? Submission only?

Boomer: Toro Cup matches feature the area’s best and most exciting Jiu-Jitsu competitors. The format is simple – we have a 10 or 15-minute submission only round. If there is not a submission – we immediately go to a 5-minute points round, following the US Grappling standard rule set.   IF we are still tied after the 5-minute points round (keep in mind there are NO advantage points or ref’s decisions) – we immediately go to sudden death – first point wins.  EVERY Toro Cup match has a winner!  

What was the process of organizing something like this? Were there any issues getting a fundraising project off the ground?

Boomer: The process is a labor of love. We love jiu-jitsu and bringing jiu-jitsu people together is the best.

How was it received by the jiu-jitsu community in North Carolina?

Boomer: I feel like NC loves the Toro cup – we have a lot of fun and give great competitors a chance to showcase their skills in front of friends and family.

What were the highlights of the day? Any matches or submissions that stick out?

CJ: I competed but I lost unfortunately. I fought Glayton Melo from somewhere in Northern Brazil. He is here training in Charleston, SC. He was a stud. Unfortunately, all the awesome submissions I saw were against my teammates at Great Grappling.

My brother competed against Deandre Corbe, an insanely good brown belt and their match was crazy, my brother got him in a super deep toe hold but was not able to finish and after some crazy scrambles, Josh got caught in a wristlock.

Finally, CJ, can you tell us any funny stories or anecdotes about your time at the academy?

CJ: Watch your neck, protect your elbows and bump fists fast, from the beginning of the session to the end you best be ready to train hard. Prepare for some singing and dancing as well! Oh and have fun trying to pass the guard of Pan Am Kids green belt champion, Moicano. A fellow teen competitor, blue belt, Gabriel will snatch your arms up if you let him. Be careful and don’t think you are getting one up on anyone because the pace can turn from slow to fast in a heartbeat!

Editors note:
Toro Cup for was able to raise 1,250 dollars for Terere Kids Project, one of the biggest donations to date! Since then Terere has been able to fund some much-needed renovations to the gym: replacing the academy door, fixing the fans, getting covers for the mats, and mending the furniture. We have also been able to keep up with our snack program and provide competition fees for 3 students that will be competing this November in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament. 

TKP is an unofficial NonProfit Organization that relies on the support of private donations sent through Paypal to fund our daily activities. Before TKP the project was funded exclusively by money that Terere himself earned from seminars and private lessons, now after 3 years of hard work we are able to count on support sent from jiu jiteros worldwide!

Talking Terere with BJJ Scout

An exclusive interview by Andrew Morris writer of the blog Tales From Deep Half with the creator of BJJ Scout.

Terere after defeating Shaolin at Polaris 4

Since appearing in 2013 with the study of Leandro Lo, the anonymous, BJJ Scout has revolutionised the genre of jiu-jitsu breakdown videos. The Scout’s extensively researched and articulate approach to jiu-jitsu study has been universally praised within the BJJ community and helped legions of grapplers understand previously unnoticed nuances in the games of the sport’s top athletes.

With the release of a new video on Terere’s system of passing – we had a chance to put some questions to BJJ Scout on this excellent study which provides a poignant look at the legacy that Terere left on today’s passers.

It is your first jiu-jitsu video after a short hiatus - why did you decide on Terere for your return?
During my break from BJJ-centric studies I've noticed that quite a few breakdowns have emerged on several top competitors by various other grappling enthusiasts. Many of them tend to cluster around a few particular subjects currently active in the competition space though.

One of the things I tried to do initially when I started my channel was to shine a light on names that weren't that big/known then (i.e. Leandro Lo) or on female competitors (i.e. Ronda/Michelle Nicolini). Likewise, on my return to BJJ videos, I thought it rather fitting to study someone that has been "forgotten" so to speak.  Coincidentally, Terere competed at Polaris 4 so a study on him is timely. 
In addition, despite Terere's story having been extensively featured in various videos, there hasn't been an actual elaboration beyond a few perfunctory words as to how he influenced BJJ's development. Through my study I hoped to shed light on why exactly Terere has been highly praised by many top grapplers over the years.

Photo from FloGrappling

What made Terere unique to the competitors that you had previously studied?
Many of my previous studies were on what I might call "complete" systems, or to put it another way, the "evolved" versions of concepts that Terere originated/popularized. Rodolfo's weaves, Leandro Lo's DLR knee posting, Maia's use of smash passes all can be traced back to Terere. In fact, you will find that many of today's competitors by their own admission, credit Terere for many "moves" that they are known for, be it Xande Ribero's X-pass or the Mendes brothers' extension of "TT passing" into what we now know as leg drags.
One has to remember, Terere was an innovator in an age without YouTube or social media facilitating the easy transmission of ideas through the internet. It takes a certain kind of BJJ brilliance to figure out not just a "move" but to create a new passing system that emphasized movement and misdirection. Terere provided a "blueprint" to a whole new way of thinking about BJJ that has been branched out in many directions in his wake. One thing I tried to convey above all in the video was that Terere was not just excellent in his execution, but that he was a catalyst for many things to come. 
Additionally, one area that I was not able to fully explore in my video was Terere's guard. Terere's key innovation there was the idea that the guard should not be used to trap and hunt for submissions but to immediately sweep for the reversal. Terere's guard play back then was the "turn" which showed many the benefits of getting the sweep asap. This strategic use of the guard carried on with Marcelo Garcia (who emerged from the scene around the time Terere disappeared) and is the de facto guard tactic used in sport BJJ today.

Why do you think after all these years out of the limelight Terere is still held in such high regard by the entire jiu-jitsu community?
Terere abruptly exited the competitive scene right before he hit his peak, thus there has always been a "mystery" surrounding the possibilities had he stayed active. He was the grappler everyone studied back then and as mentioned previously, many openly acknowledge him as the inspiration to many of their own styles.

However, while Terere's contributions to technique development were great, I believe it will be his involvement in fostering the next generation of grapplers that will be the most lauded, all things said. I strongly encourage the community to find out more about his story and his interactions with many of the founders of the top teams we know of today. From the top grapplers in MMA like Jacare and Maia, to the top sport grapplers today, many of them were inspired not just by his actions on the mat, but also off it. 

On a personal note, my own teacher was a successful product of these social programs and I am always fascinated to hear stories of his time in the favela and with Terere. So I guess you could say, the videos you are watching are a product of Terere's influence too!

How difficult was it constructing this video in comparison with your previous videos which have featured modern competitors?
Footage of Terere is scarce but thankfully there was enough around to make a decent video. Terere's brilliance comes from the use of a simple "concept" (understanding of re-guarding/the shrimping leg) which is consistent throughout his gameplay. Thus it was just a straightforward extraction from the footage of this principal being applied in a variety of ways. One thing I find is that humans generalize very well from the specific. I.e. when you learn mathematics you often start with specific examples of addition, subtraction etc. You never start with the underlying "fundamentals" or axioms of mathematics (if ever). In many of my other breakdowns I am often going down the rabbit hole after stating the general concept, this was a "reverse" so to speak of the usual approach. Hopefully through the highlighting of specifics moves Terere did, I was able to lead to viewer back to the "grunnorm" i.e. "point of origin". 

Finally, why do you think Terere Kids Project is a worthy cause?
"Hero" and "Idol" seem to be words thrown around a lot these days in BJJ and while everyone is entitled to their own definition of these terms, to me Terere's selfless use of BJJ to change the lives of disadvantaged youth in the favelas personifies what it means to be a "hero".
I'm not a big follower of BJJ social media/forums so forgive my naive interpretation of what I perceive, but it appears to me that lately there has been a constant need to elevate oneself and gain followers, for purposes and agendas that may not always be congruent with what it means to be a "martial artist". Whether these are worthy goals to aspire to is not for me to say, but if I had to make a BJJ video for a "cause" then I suppose spreading the word as to how BJJ is being used in a non-cynical way to change lives (i.e. through the Terere Kids Project) would be it.

Special Thanks to BJJ Scout who has also provided us with an exclusive cut of Terere’s passing study, featuring extra analysis and an alternative ending.

Godzilla Goes to NoGi Nationals

Gabriel (Far Right on the Podium)

Young athlete Gabriel Areas stepped out onto mats at the world renounced Tijuca Tennis Clube over the weekend to compete in Brazil’s most prestigious no-gi tournament the Brasileiros sem-kimono (NoGi).

He had five hard-fought matches between his weight division and the absolute, taking the bronze in the former and the silver in the latter.

In the first match in his weight division, he showed why he had earned the nickname Godzilla – racking up a seven-point lead before taking his opponents back and finishing with a rear naked choke.

His semi-final match saw him four points ahead having taken the back of a very tough opponent, with twenty seconds remaining, out of nowhere his opponent scrambled back to guard and threw up a triangle, Gabriel was forced to concede.

However, the sting of this loss was quickly avenged. Returning in the afternoon for the absolute division, the first round saw the pair matched up again. In a back and forth battle, Gabriel fought his way to his opponent’s back, this time there would be no mistake and he was able to finish with a rear naked choke.

A semi-final clash that was more of a wrestling match than a jiu-jitsu contest. Whilst most jiu-jitsu matches that don’t reach the ground tend to be dull affairs, this was anything but. Both competitors were ferocious in their takedown attempts – there were big double legs, single legs and hip throws – each time the respective athlete was able to scramble back to their feet or they ended up out of bounds. Equal on advantages the match could have gone either way – but Gabriel was given the nod by the referee.

The final saw him matched with a very good guard player. Although the contest itself was somewhat of a frustrating affair, as they became entangled in 50/50 very early on and traded sweep points back and forth, with Gabriel, unfortunately, losing out 8-6.

All-in-all this was an excellent day for young Godzilla, he had demonstrated the versatility of his game, between passing, guard work, wrestling and an ability to finish tough opponents. When asked how he felt about his performance, he explained:

“I am happy, but I am ready for gold next time”

The historic Tijuca Tennis Club where IBJJF Worlds
Used to be held

Godzilla Vs Sao Paulo

Young athlete, Gabriel ‘Godzilla’ Areas recently took a trip to Sao Paulo to complete at the IBJJF Sao Paulo Open, one of the premier tournaments of the year’s Jiu-Jitsu calendar in Brazil. This year’s edition was no exception, it was huge, seeing over 1,600 athletes competing over two days with twelve mats running simultaneously.

There was some excellent jiu-jitsu on display, in particular, the ferocity of the young competitors was mind-blowing. There appeared to be a renewed emphasis on passing the guard for the lower belts, who could be seen forcing their way through the complex guard-play of their opponents. All this was done at a hundred miles an hour!

The double guard pull which had become synonymous with the lower weight divisions in the last few years was not nearly as prevalent – it would appear that the IBJJF implemented rule change has made an impact.

Gabriel competed in both the Gi and No-Gi divisions in the blue belt juvenile category.

Training a little NoGi at the Connection Rio Hostel 

Unfortunately, his first match was 2-0 loss to an excellent guard player. An initial mistake in his aggressive attempts to pass the guard resulted in being lured into a triangle. Although being stuck in a choke that would have put an ox to sleep, really epitomized the Gabriels’s never say die attitude.

When questioned on how close the submission was, he explained that he never thought of giving up as there is always a chance of escape. In response to what he would do differently next time:

“I will prepare a little more and improve my strong positions and learn some more, I want to always have an ace up my sleeve”.

Returning to the mats the following day for the No-Gi, he was able to come away with a bronze medal in his weight division. After being stuck in another sticky situation with a belly down foot-lock that popped his foot, again he was unwilling to concede and battled it out managing to escape.

He wasn’t the only competitor who suffered a similar fate that weekend, the rise of the foot-lock continued and a number of competitors could be seen hobbling around after their matches.

Gabriel himself mummified his foot and then struggled back out onto the mats for the open weight division. An inspired performance on one leg resulted in a points win against the champion from the featherweight division, this led to a place in the semi-finals.

In the semis, guard work was the key again and his opponent swept him three times for a 6-2 victory. For his efforts, Gabriel received a swollen nose and lip after being caught with a thunderous knee to the face to go along with his barely functioning foot.

Moz is kind of known for getting it in with the junk food after 
competitions. Apparently, he is passing this tradition on to Gabriel! 

Nevertheless, two IBJJF bronze medals in his first competition outside of Rio was not a bad haul.

When questioned on what he enjoyed most about the weekend, he explained that he loves to travel and enjoyed visiting Sao Paulo even though it is very cold. But the absolute best thing was the huge pizza after the competition!

Godzilla: A Day in the Life

Another great blog piece written by Andrew Morris a Purple belt under Terere who is currently in Rio training and living in the Cantagalo Favela. Read more from Moz on his own blog Tales from Deep Half

Gabriel Areas is one of Terere’s most promising young athletes. This seventeen-year-old blue belt has an exceptional work ethic; one provides inspiration for his young teammates at Terere Kids Project.

This is how he spends his days as he readies himself for a trip to Sao Paulo to compete in the IBJJF Sao Paulo Open this coming weekend.

Gabriel taking first place in SJJSAF Tauron Cup

Awaking at 8:30 A.M. each day to make the morning class at the academy which begins at 9 A.M. This should be an easy task considering he lives just five minutes away. However, each morning is a struggle, like most seventeen-year-olds he is up late night. Although, his reason for being up so late is usually marathon sessions of Dragonball Z or Yu-Gi-Oh episodes.

The morning’s training is taught by Professor Fabricio; generally, these sessions are more technique driven and allow athletes to work on their respective games in comparison to the evening sessions which tend to be more focused on kill or be killed rolling.

Gabriel is fondly known to those in the academy as ‘Godzilla’, this nickname originated due to his skills as a passador, which is someone who specialises in passing guard.

Gabriel uses these morning sessions to focus on improving his guard game. He is currently working diligently on his half guard as well as the berimbolo.

At the end of this session, he hurries back home to refuel before getting ready for school.

His school day begins at 12:30 P.M., where he studies lessons in Portuguese, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, English, and Physical Education. He admits to not always being the most motivated of students, preferring to spend his time on the mats or in class visualizing Jiu-Jitsu. But he’s an intelligent young dude that enjoys science as well as having an interest in history.

He has one eye on his future goals, knowing how important it is to achieve them, he also takes a metro to Botofogo every Saturday to do extra lessons in English.

Gabriel and his younger brother

Gabriel is very lucky, living with his grandmother, Mum and two-year-old brother, Vinicius; he has the support of a loving family with is something that isn’t afforded to everyone growing up in the community.

When he doesn’t have school, which is more often than you might expect due to the abundance of national holidays which come thick and fast in Brazil, he meets up with Mestre Terere to help him prepare for his own super fight. Together they go and do ‘preparação físico’ (strength and conditioning) at Fitness Rio gym.

Any extra days off he uses to travel over the Connection Rio hostel in Barra where he trains No-Gi with visiting Jiu-Jitsu athletes from around the world.

After arriving home from school, there is usually time for a quick nap, some homework, and food before he is back to the academy for the evening session. Every day there is a high level on the mats which includes renowned black belt competitors from the Cantagalo community. In addition to international athletes who have traveled across the globe to come and train with Mestre Terere at his academy.

The mats can often be a scary place. However, Gabriel shows no fear mixing it up with higher belts. He uses his relentless guard passing, a never say die attitude and fights for everything. More often than not this leads to passing the guards of brown and black belts, much to their chagrin. When training concludes at 10 P.M. he still can be found drilling guard passes on tired looking partners.

Gabriel dreams of winning the European and world championships. Someday he would also like to own an academy, but right know his sole focus is on competing and winning as many tournaments as he can. With the work ethic he displays every single day, this is something that I would not put past him.

Gabriel training at the Connection Rio BJJ Hostel 

For now, he is back watching Dragonball Z, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Terere's Young Assassins

Read more from Moz on his own blog Tales from Deep Half

I began training at the project over three years ago now, at that time it was very much in its infancy being open less than a year. But the academy was abuzz from the offset. Everyday a horde of young guys and girls from Cantagalo’s community would show up eager to have fun, learn Jiu-Jitsu, and spend time with their friends; safe in the knowledge they would also be fed. There was so much enthusiasm and an abundance of raw talent.

At this time there was a clear dividing line between the class delivered for the children and young teens and the regular adult's sessions. 

Over the course of the year, I began to see some of this talent realized; a number of the teenagers graduated to train with the adults alongside training in the children’s class.

Arriving back ten months later, I would find the skills of these teens had developed exponentially. Rolling with a number of them had begun to pose some serious problems. Myself and fellow gringos would engage in brainstorming sessions to fathom the guard game of the then fourteen-year-old orange belt, Jhonathan ‘Moicano’ Marques. Who having won the IBJJF Brazilian Nationals was making life extremely difficult for all purple and brown belts. 

Gabriel Took 1st place on August 28th at SJJSAF Copa Touron

Sixteen-year-old, Gabriel Areas had just received his blue belt. He had begun to frustrate not only his peers but also the adults with his relentless passing game. You couldn’t help but smile as he cartwheeled over the guards of higher belts which invariably led to the onset of their Jiu-Jitsu angry-face. His skills of guard demolition led to him acquiring the nickname ‘Godzilla’. 

Arriving back at the project this year, it has been nothing short of amazing to see the evolution of these young grapplers. Once young teens, whom I first meet in the kid’s class had now graduated to training solely with the adults and were now assassinating fellow grapplers irrespective of age or belt colour. 

Moicano, having been promoted to green belt had successfully defended his crown at the Brazilian Nationals and also traveled to California where he was able to achieve his biggest achievement to date, taking gold at the IBJJF Pan Kids. This incredible accolade had made him nothing but more determined. Despite this success, you could not hope to meet a more humble young man. The young whiz-kid displays absolutely no pretension as he uses his seemingly unstoppable berimbolo to become an unwanted backpack for brown and belt belts.

Moicano’s partner-in-crime, Gabriel ‘Moleza’ Bacellar had come up in the shadow of his talented friend. Since we first met, he had been on the mats daily, working tirelessly to get better. Seeking to emulate his hero Bernardo Faria, he had endlessly been working his deep-half game. His mastery of controlling the lapel has ensured that entering his guard was now a treacherous decision. Watching him train with his peers, I was delighted to see this hard work finally come to fruition.

The children’s class has always buzzed with boys and girls alike but it had always been a struggle to retain the girls as they got older. Thus, the addition of seventeen year-old, Izabella Moreia has been a revelation for the project. After only six months of training, she took bronze in the Brazilian Nationals and has since been on a tear. She is fearless on the mats, never turning down a roll regardless of size or belt level (she often has to compete above her weight class to get fights). She gives everyone a hard time, using spider guard with precision that seems inconceivable for someone that has only  trained for such a short amount of time. 

Izabella training with new FT integrant Faby 

The team has also been joined by Leo “Bebezao” Bandeira, a fifteen-year-old orange belt, who has a passing game akin to a young Rodolfo. Rolling with him is not the most pleasant experience as he hops side-to-side, relenting only when he knows the pass has been secured. He possesses the explosive power of a bucking bronco; the look of utter surprise on the faces of higher belts after passing his guard just to have him bridge them back over.

Back at the children’s class, which is still teeming with young guys and girls. This new crop of students have the same enthusiasm and the same smiles on their faces as those that I’d met three years ago. They are training hard every day, getting ready to fill the shoes of those assassins who came before them.

Support Terere Kids Project

We are currently looking for sponsorship for to fund the next tournament which will take place September 17th in Rio. Competition lets kids see the results of the hard work and dedication that they spend coming to training everyday. 

We accept donations via Paypal at but you can also help support our competition team by buying TERERE KID'S PATCHES. 

Patches are US$10 (plus shipping) and can be ordered by emailing

There is a LIMITED NUMBER so make sure to order yours today!