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.
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 TerereKidsProject@gmail.com 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 TerereKidsProject@gmail.com
There is a LIMITED NUMBER so make sure to order yours today!