THE PRINCE OF JIU-JITSU - Part 1
This incredible story begins in 1996, with an episode as mysterious as it is extraordinary, when an Arab entered Renzo's academy in New York. Renzo didn't know who he was; the man identified himself as Ben and said he was a student of Nelson Couto Monteiro, a GRACIE BARRA master in San Diego, California.
Renzo received him kindly, as he does all beginners; gave him a kimono as a gift and started the day's class. The apprentice, a blue belt, trained hard and, at one point, received an elbow to the face that made his nose bleed. Renzo lent him a towel to stop the bleeding, then asked if everything was ok. Ben replied, smiling: "It's all great: my opponent hit me, but he didn't pass my guard!"
At that moment Renzo realized that the new member of the group was a warrior: “I became a fan of him right away!”
After training, the student invited Renzo to have lunch together the next day. Renzo accepted; at the appointed time, he arrived at a hotel in the Midtown. He was surprised by the fact that the place was completely empty – no guests at the reception or in the corridors: “The hotel was huge, luxurious, but I thought it was crap, because there was nobody…” Renzo walked towards the restaurant, where Ben was waiting for him alone.
During lunch they talked about Jiu-Jitsu, and that apprentice's passion impressed Renzo more and more. When they finished eating, the excitement was so great that they moved tables and chairs away and started practicing positions on the carpeted floor – the place was empty and the maître authorized it.
“We started training right there, thinking about the game, analyzing possibilities: he was very excited about it all!”
As the student had informed him that he would be leaving the US that afternoon, Renzo asked him what time his flight would leave.
“At 5pm", was the reply.
Renzo looked at his watch: it was already past 2pm.
“You need to get to the airport in a few minutes or you'll miss your plane…” Renzo said, worried.
They went back to training a few more positions and discussing technical aspects related to takedowns and submissions. When Renzo looked at his watch again, it was already 4pm. “Champ, you need to run NOW or your plane will leave!”
Then Ben smiled placidly: “Master, the plane is mine. I don't think it'll take off without me..."
(to be continued)