The Valente Family trained under Helio Gracie for many years, and in a recent exclusive interview with Jits, both Guilherme and Pedro Valente reminicsced about the childhood years spent learning from the grandmaster.
What follows is one of the many endearing anecdotes they shared with us, and more of their stories will be published soon.
Guilherme recalls a unique memory with the Helio:
"When I was 13 or 14 years old, I spent almost a month living with grand master Helio during a summer vacation. It was actually my first time training without a kimono. It was summer time and very hot. We used to train twice a day; always before lunch and dinner. After maybe three weeks of training there, without the kimono, we would train in shorts and he taught me the grips and all the adaptations without the kimono. Two things stuck in my mind after that period; the power went out and it was dark. It started raining and then it was pitch black in the room we were training in, and I said “oh what are we going to do?” and Helio said “keep training - lets keep training in the dark.” So we kept training in the dark, which was pretty cool, and it’s something I do sometimes with students to practice their other skills, like not relying on vision and things like that. It’s to hone their other senses."
"Toward the end of the trip he invited a farmer that used to work for him, a big and tough guy to spar with me. The guy was a complete layman to jiu-jitsu but he was very strong. It’s important to do this kind of training today because that’s really why we train jiu-jitsu. Obviously it’s cool and fun, we love to train with other jiu-jitsu technicians, but we always must know to keep the focus on fighting the guy who is big and strong, who is not going to try to pass your guard, he is not going to hook, he is not going to try any of the jiu-jitsu moves. He is just going to try to squeeze you as hard as he can. Which can be very different than training with another jiu-jitsu guy. So that was obviously a very tough match with the guy and it’s a memory that I will always remember."
Guilherme and Pedro's academy, Valente Brothers Jiu-Jitsu, is located in North Miami Beach, Florida. Visit graciemiami.com for more info.