Words by Aaron Kagan
I was nervous as I entered Equipe 1, the gym which hosts the De La Riva headquarters in the beautiful beach neighbourhood of Copacabana, Rio De Janeiro. Here I was about to meet a legend. At least I hoped I was. You never know, maybe Mestre De La Riva doesn’t teach or doesn’t even come and just sits at home and collects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mestre De La Riva was standing at the entrance to the training room and I froze a little, nudging my Brazilian friend who had accompanied me, “It’s him it’s him!” I was legitimately star struck. What welcomed me was a warm smile and a hug so sincere it felt as if it was someone welcoming me home.
The training was intense. There are at least 6 classes a day, all of which are taught by Mestre De La Riva himself, unless he’s away giving a seminar. The rolls were tough. Let me explain. At any given time, there are more black belts on the mats than all other belts combined. I’ll let that sink in for us gringos that are lucky to have one or two black belts in the gym. Oh and during my training there I got to do seminars with the legend Roger Gracie and also Davi Ramos for the price of what would be less than a private lesson here. Yup seminars in Brazil with legends are a really good value.
The funny thing is that in the month I spent training at De La Riva’s we never once learned any De La Riva Techniques. This shocked me at first but upon consideration this not only makes sense (given that Mestre De La Riva is a Carlson Gracie black belt. A team that is known for their aggressive passing style) but also highlights the type of humble person Mestre De La Riva is. When I said goodbye I was treated once again to that same warm hug from not only a true legend of our beloved art but also a man that exemplifies kindness and sincerity.
Summary: Go train there!