Carlos Machado – BJJ Legend

Carlos Machado

Carlos Machado is the oldest and highest ranked of the famous Machado brothers. He played a vital role in bringing Jiu Jitsu to the US and helping it grow.

Here is the complete story on Master Carlos Machado. Going through his journey to opening the Machado Jiu Jitsu Academy and creating his own school and affiliation.

Carlos Machado’s Entry Into Jiu Jitsu

Being related to the Gracie family through his Aunt Lior, Carlos grew up around Jiu Jitsu. He first started training with the co-creator of the martial art, Helio Gracie at the original Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

When Carlos’ family moved to southern Rio de Janeiro, he began training at Rolls’ Gracie’s academy. There, he would develop a close bond with Carlos Gracie Jr.

A few of his younger brothers would join him at Roll’s school and train there before Rolls passed away. Carlinhos(Carlos Jr) would take over Rolls’ school after his death.

UFC Promo

Gracie would then move the school to the Barra da Tijuca region of Rio de Janeiro. Carlos and his brothers would be part of the group that followed Jr. to the new location.

During this time, many prominent members of the Gracie family began taking the Machado brothers under their wings. Teaching them everything they knew about the family martial art.

Carlos especially credits Crolin Gracie for helping develop his early Jiu Jitsu skills.

Carlos’ Time Living With Carlos Gracie Sr

After Carlos finished grade school, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and study to become a lawyer. The law school campus was near the home of Carlos’ Great Uncle Carlos Gracie Sr.

He would move into the home of Carlos Sr. from 1982 to 1987 while in law school. Whenever he wasn’t studying, Carlos would spend time with his uncle.

Carlos Sr. would tell Machado everything about the martial art that he helped create. These conversations with his uncle gave Carlos a deeper understanding of the martial art and its meaning.

Carlinhos would later do the honor of awarding Machado with his black belt. Being the first of the Machado brothers to earn the rank of black belt.

Carlos Machado Moves To The US

Carlos’s brother Rigan moved to the US in 1988 to help grow Jiu Jitsu along with his relatives. When Rigan returned to visit his family, he convinced his brothers to join him in the US.

By 1990, all of the Machado brothers had made their way to California to start their own academy. Initially, they wanted to open a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu affiliate school to keep it within the family.

Carlos and Rigan actually taught at the Gracie Academy when they first arrived in the US.

Unfortunately, this would not be how things would go when they got to the US. Rorion Gracie, the co-owner of the original Gracie Academy in Torrance, struck down the Machados idea.

As a lawyer himself, Rorion told the brothers that they could not use the Gracie name. Threatening legal action if they attempted to open a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school.

Disappointed, the Machado brothers would move to Redondo Beach and begin teaching Jiu Jitsu from their home.

Chuck Norris Helping Carlos Machado and His Brothers

One day when the brothers were sitting in their home, they had an unexpected visitor. Famous actor and martial artist Chuck Norris showed up at their home to train.

Norris had initially trained at the Gracie Academy a few years before but stopped. He heard about the Machado brothers teaching Jiu Jitsu and wanted to get back into training.

Chuck quickly became good friends with Carlos and his brothers. Training with them all day at their home and eating lunch with them. He would frequently invite the brothers to his home to eat and watch movies.  

Then one day before training, Chuck said he had a surprise for the Machado brothers. They got in his car and drove to a shopping center on Tarzana near Ventura Blvd.

Once there, he took the brothers to a unit that was filled with thousands of dollars in Jiu Jitsu mats. He threw them the keys and said this was their new BJJ academy.

The brothers told him they’d never afford rent, but Chuck told them he was the owner of the shopping center. He didn’t charge them rent and enabled them to grow an incredible academy.

Chuck also said jokingly that he gave them the academy because he was tired of driving to Redondo Beach.

The Machado Brothers Open a Second School

Carlos and his brother’s school was so popular that they were overloaded with new Jiu Jitsu students. This would lead them to open a second Machado Brother Jiu Jitsu Academy quickly.

Their new academy would be located near Carlos’s home in Redondo Beach. The brothers agreed that Carlos, Rigan, and Roger would run the new school, while Jean Jacques and John ran the original.

Carlos Machado Moves To Texas

After years of growing successful academies with his brothers in California, Carlos made a decision. He wanted to branch out and start his very own Jiu Jitsu academy. With his brother’s blessings, Carlos would make his way to Texas.

Chuck Norris Helps Carlos Machado Open His Academy

Once again, Carlos’ friend Chuck Norris would help him get started building his Jiu Jitsu school. Norris would allow Carlos to run classes at the studio where Walker: Texas Ranger was filmed.

To further help Carlos and his brothers grow their schools, Chuck would make them guest stars in the show multiple times. Carlos would find a location for his academy and open the Carlos Machado Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Carlos Machado Jiu Jitsu Becomes an Affiliation

After opening his Jiu Jitsu academy in 1995, Carlos Machado’s academy would explode in popularity. His school would quickly become a full-fledged Jiu Jitsu affiliation.

Carlos Machado Jiu Jitsu affiliate schools are now in over twenty US states and four countries worldwide.

Carlos Machado’s Competition Career

Carlos is more known as an instructor, but at one time, he was a top BJJ competitor. Before moving to the US permanently, Carlos Machado was an impressive competitor.

He won the Rio de Janeiro State Championship ten years in a row, along with winning the national title. When moved to the US, he would briefly stop competing to focus on growing his brother’s academy.

Later on, when Jiu Jitsu competitions began to be organized, Carlos would return to competition. Winning the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 1997 and 1998.

During this time throughout 1999, Carlos would also compete in numerous superfights during this time. 

His last competition win was the Master’s World Championship that took place in 2000. Carlos would win double gold at the event and announce his official retirement from competition.

Carlos Machado Promoted to Coral Belt

In 2012, at an annual Machado Brothers Jiu Jitsu Camp, Carlos would receive a surprise. To mark his 28th year as a black belt, he would have the honor of receiving his coral belt.

Becoming one of the very few in the world to become a 7th-degree black belt. He received this belt with all of his brothers in attendance to congratulate him.

Carlos Machado Promoted to Red and White Belt

Ten years after receiving his coral belt, Carlos would be in for another surprise. Marking nearly forty years as a black belt, Carlos would receive his white and red belt.

The 8th degree BJJ black belt is the second highest rank that anyone can achieve in the martial art.

Carlos Machado’s Most Prominent BJJ Students

In his nearly forty years as an instructor, Carlos Machado has taught tens of thousands of students. Including thousands of black belts from all over the world.

Some of his most prominent students include

  • Chuck Norris
  • Travis Lutter
  • Anthony Perosh
  • Elvis Sinosic
  • Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson

He also originally taught former BJJ world champion Rafael Lovato Jr before he switched to Saul Ribeiro’s Jiu Jitsu school.

The Legacy of Carlos Machado

Carlos Machado has done just about everything one can do in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He won numerous championships and opened a successful school, which became an international affiliation.

But what he most important did above all of that was be an incredible ambassador for the martial art. Without Carlos Machado and his brothers, Jiu Jitsu may not have become as popular as it has become today. Master Carlos is not only a great martial artist, but also an incredible person.