Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chute Boxe

In the summer of 2006 I had the opportunity to spend some time training with the professional fight team of the Chute Boxe Academy of Curitiba, Brazil. At the time, Chute Boxe was arguably the most feared mixed-martial arts (MMA) camp in the world---it had produced a stable of elite MMA fighters and was seen as a premier source of combat athletes for the prestigious Japanese PRIDE FC fight promotion (PRIDE would frequently sell-out the Tokyo Dome and the Saitama Super Arena).

The adventurer John Falk, clearly a fellow fan, did a great article on his experience at Chute Boxe for National Geographic. I thought it captured the personality of the academy very well:

The training I received was truly world-class, and I was amazed at both the skill level and professionalism of the fighters and coaches. Chute Boxe was known for its ferocious, hybrid fighting style, a pragmatic mix of Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that emphasized sophisticated, relentless compound attacks both standing and on the ground. They were also known for an extremely grueling training routine, and I learned the truth behind this reputation first-hand. This video gives a sense of how it all worked:

I did not emerge from the training unscathed: I had my foot, ribs, and (as evidenced from the picture below) nose broken while at Chute Boxe.

The damage was all sustained in a single day of full-contact sparring---the foot was an accident, the ribs and nose were the result of knees delivered to my hapless body and face while I was caught by my opponent in the double neck-tie control position favored in Muay Thai (in the military, it would be said that I had received the "full benefits of the training"). The good news: A) I was considered competent enough to warrant such an exciting training opportunity with an elite fighter, and B) the bloody and painful lesson did impart a sense of urgency in me regarding drilling the various escapes from the Thai clinch. The bad news is that none of those escape and countering techniques ever worked well for me against guys like Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Still, I suppose that I am in esteemed company in at least this regard.

Unfortunately, it looks like it will be impossible for me to ever recreate my great experience at the Chute Boxe Academy: not so long after I left, PRIDE went under financially and many of the Chute Boxe star athletes and coaches left the camp to start their own gyms. Besides, I'll be 40 before too long and need to give up on any attempts to keep up with hungry, training-obsessed 24-year-old professional athletes (some of them no doubt cycling Boldenone, EPO, and other performance-enhancing drugs) before I have to be carried out of the gym on a stretcher, if not in a casualty bag.

I did manage to take a hundred or so pictures while I was there, so maybe in the future I will post a few more to add a splash of local color to an otherwise fairly dry (dare I say tedious?) hedge fund blog. Combining a pit bull aggressiveness and shocking capacity for violence in the ring with a gentle, easygoing, Brazilian surfer mentality outside of it, the fighters and coaches at Chute Boxe were probably the coolest guys I have ever met.

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