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Marcelo Alonso – The Embodiment of Strong Will and a Great Heart

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Sometimes you encounter special people. People, having an incredible history. People, tainted by life, but going strong nonetheless – perhaps even going stronger! Every step you take, be it left, right, forward, onward, or even not going at all, is a choice. And some of those choices become your life. Monday and Tuesday the 29th and 30th of June 2015 were the days that Pound for Pound had the honor of meeting a person who knows what it means to get up time and time again when life knocks you down. And whilst doing that, still keeping an open heart and help others every way he can. The special person we are referring to is Marcelo Alonso: teacher of our teacher Sergio ‘Canudo’ Zimmermann.

The first day was Gi and the second day was no-Gi training. The many drills, movements, follow-up techniques were simply amazing. Especially the submitting and/or sweeping sequences: if the initial set up or submitting technique does not work out, try another. If that does not work either, again, try something else, even if that means not submitting your opponent immediately, but just controlling him/her and regaining or advancing to a more dominant position. And simply taking it from there once more. Marcelo’s preference for submissions involving arms, shoulders and wrists became soon clear to us. Especially during no-Gi the emphasis was placed on different arm submissions – they are old school and brutally effective!

Apart from all those techniques, his way of teaching is perhaps even more remarkable. It is here that his strong will and great heart comes to the fore, as well as providing us with a glimpse of how training BJJ used to be in Brazil. Marcelo is, in a positive sense, a tough teacher. Yet, in his toughness, he is kind, caring, obliging and helpful. Through this, the benefits of BJJ – and any decent Martial Arts for that matter – is that it is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle, filled with norms and values. Practicing BJJ is also adopting a certain mindset and attitude that can prove to be helpful in the future inside and outside the gym.

There is a saying that goes as follows: ‘having tea with a fascinating stranger is one of life’s true delights’, for us, being taught BJJ from Marcelo and by extension being allowed to enter his world a bit is definitely one of Life’s truest delights! We thank Marcelo and Sergio for making all of this possible! Osssssss!

Laurien Zurhake