Lisbon, Portugal — Before I started my job in Frankfurt, I had a couple of weeks to kill. During that time, I decided to visit David, my digital nomad friend who was then living in a hacker house in Lisbon. David and I met while we were traveling in Japan, and I was thrilled to catch up with him regarding our travels. In Lisbon, I found Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu Academy to train during the short getaway.
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Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal located in mainland Europe along the Atlantic coast. Encompassing the old pastel-colored buildings, Lisbon is one of the most stunning and picturesque cities in Europe. With its rich history, a year-round warm climate, and vibrant nightlife, Lisbon is a popular holiday destination that draws tourists from all over the world.
Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu Academy is headed by Professor Helio Perdigao, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under the famous Royce Gracie. I had the opportunity to attend classes led by both Professor Helio Perdigao and Professor Miguel Rodrigues, who is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Royce Gracie.
My experience at Five Elements was nothing but positive. Before landing in Lisbon, I messaged the academy via Facebook and received a welcoming message. After getting lost in pastel-colored buildings in the city of Lisbon, I finally arrived at the academy. There I was blown away by how kind and welcoming everyone was. Although we did not speak the same language, I immediately felt included in the Five Element’s community. The other students were intrigued by my BJJ journey around the globe and wanted to know more about my travels. In addition, Professor Helio and Miguel were approachable and willing to share their wealth of knowledge. Both instructors created an absolutely phenomenal environment for training.
After the class, Professor Miguel explained to me the values and philosophy of the school and how the academy follows the original principal of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. As a traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school, the academy’s name is derived from “the Five Elements of Jiu-Jitsu.” Nowadays, it is common to find sport-based Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies all around the world. Instead, Five Elements Academy focuses on both ground fighting and self-defense. Students initially start with basic self-defense and then more sportive moves as they progress.
Five Elements Academy is a well-established academy in Lisbon, and, with International Open IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship being held in Lisbon, it is gaining more popularity among BJJ Globetrotters. Also, with its second location, Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu is expanding its presence in Lisbon. Combined with high-quality instructions and decent sparring sessions, it is totally worth your time to visit if you are in Lisbon. After consuming delicious Portuguese cuisines and devouring 20 Pastéis de Natas, training at the academy will complete your trip to Lisbon. Again, thank you, everyone, at the academy for your hospitality. I will be back in the future!
Location & Facility
The academy has two branches in Lisbon: Five Element Jiu-Jitsu-Matriz & Rato. The academy I visited is located near Rato subway station closer to Lisbon’s city center. From Praça do Comércio, you can reach the academy within 20-minutes via subway, which is close enough to take a quick break from your vacation. Five Element’s facility includes a spacious gray open mat space with a locker room. (Google Map: Link)
Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu’s both locations are open Monday through Saturday including late-night open mat training throughout the week. The academy’s most recent schedule is posted below:
Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu Academy did not charge for the training. However, it is always courteous to reach out to the gym before your visit.
— Five Elements Jiu-Jitsu’s Website
Things to do
- Pastéis de Nata — In Portugal, it is common to spot bakeries and pastry shops filled with delicious cakes and custards while walking down the streets. However, there is one perfect sweet in particular that you must try: Pastéis de Nata. With its original recipe dating back over 300 years, Portuguese custard tarts with a rich egg filling nestled in a flaky crust is a must-try. To be honest, I might have eaten more than 20 of these in my 4-day visit.
- Belém Tower — Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard Lisbon’s harbor, the Belém Tower is UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tower played a key role in Portugal’s Age of Discovery as it served as a gateway for Portuguese explorers to start their voyages. Visiting Belém Tower is featured on almost every visitor’s itinerary in Lisbon.
- Sintra — About an hour away from Lisbon, Sintra is a picturesque Portuguese town that is situated in the foothills of Serra de Sintra. As a longtime Portuguese royal sanctuary, its forested terrain is studded with extravagant pastel-colored villas and palaces. Sintra is like a page torn from a fairy tale and it is definitely worth a day trip from Lisbon.
- Praça do Comércio — With traditional yellow-colored buildings lining the three sides and a magnificent statue of King Jose I positioned in the center, Praça do Comércio is Lisbon’s most emblematic square.