Photos by Djatmiko Waluyo
Along with 40 or 50 mixed martial arts hobbyists, fighters, instructors and enthusiasts, I took a seminar from one of world’s most renowned mixed martial arts trainers, the master Rafael Cordeiro. It happened at the Renzo Gracie academy in Polanco, and it was led by Mario Delgado Dávila.
Rafael Cordeiro is a three-time Muay Thai champion in his native Brazil, as well as one of the heads that lead the legendary Chute Boxe academy, which is home to several champions world-class fighters like Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva and Mauricio Rua. Currently, Rafael Cordeiro is in Mexico as a fundamental member of Fabricio Werdum’s camp.
Having had so many champions under his tutelage, you would think that Cordeiro is strict, intimidating and as tough as his fighters, but as soon as he starts giving direction with a huge ear-to-ear smile, you quickly learn that he’s the opposite of your expectations. Barely fitting, we started warming up and you could feel the body heat with every breath. Among us was the Argentine Guido Cannetti, following Cordeiro’s motions as he prepared for his fight on UFC 180 in Mexico City.
We started stretching and Cordeiro began showing us some boxing and Muay Thai techniques for mixed martial arts. One, two, cross, cross. Dodge, duck and cover.
Cordeiro would walk around us, checking our techniques and correcting our movements. He asked if we had any questions in a Brazilian accent. No one uttered a single word.
We kept working, trying to increase speed and strength in every repetition. The truth is that I wasn’t paying attention to anything else but what I was doing—the only thing on my mind was trying to not screw it up. All of a sudden, someone touched my shoulder.
“What’s your name,” he asked. “Andrea… Andrea,” I stuttered in my mouthpiece.
“Good technique, Andrea,” Cordeiro responded, and walked away to continue checking everyone out, leaving me with a great smile for the rest of the night.
We carried on and after several combinations and technical demonstrations, Cordero wrapped up the seminar. We all came together, seated on the tatame in front of him. He told us about his origins in the sport and gave us a few words.
At the end, we all came together to get an obligatory photo or a selfie—for the profile picture, to remember that we were here with the same Cordeiro that brought those imposing Brazilian warriors from Chute Boxe. When it was my turn, as I said goodbye and thanked him for his time and the lesson, Cordeiro repeated his earlier statement, “Really good, Andrea, excellent technique.”
Now I was the one with the ear-to-ear smile.
Check out these related stories:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.