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!
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!