They call him a living legend. He is an 8-time world champion and one of the very few people in the world with a red and white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Rigan Machado trains and teaches at his academy in Beverly Hills, where he is master to many Hollywood celebrities. Last but not least, he also works as an actor.
Why Jiu Jitsu?
I was lucky to be born into a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu family. It was part of the tradition to do Jiu Jitsu, from one generation to the next. I was only 5 years old when I started and I’ve been doing it ever since. Now I am an 8th degree red and white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I have also won many tournaments in judo, sambo (a martial art and combat sport developed in the Soviet Red Army) and wrestling.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not an Olympic sport. Do you think it may be added soon?
The sport is getting popular very fast. There is a similar ground fight sport – judo – already in the Olympics so I pray every day that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will make it too. When it does, I am sure I will be involved at some level.
You live in Los Angeles. Why did you come to the USA?
I always wanted to live in the US, I love this country. In my 20s I was already an established Jiu Jitsu athlete and when I got the opportunity to come to Los Angeles to train and teach I did not hesitate. There was no Jiu Jitsu in LA when I got here. I am very proud to have played a part in spreading this beautiful sport and I am glad to see how fast it is growing and gaining popularity in the US.
You arrived in the US as a pioneer of the sport and now you are known as a celebrity Jiu Jitsu teacher…
When I opened my studio in Beverly Hills 6 years ago, lots of celebrities joined my training sessions – Mel Gibson, Chuck Norris, Keanu Reeves, Ashton Kutcher, Scarlett Johansson to mention just a few of my students. We are a big family. Jiu Jitsu is not just a sport but a lifestyle. Apart from learning self defence, you learn how to get in shape and live healthy as you become part of an amazing family and environment. Jiu Jitsu makes you a better person. It teaches you to become a better person by helping others.
How are your celebrity clients?
Celebrities are treated exactly like any other students. When we’re training, I’m not their friend and they are not celebrities. I am their coach and they are my students. It is as simple as that.
So if I want to try Jiu Jitsu what will I learn?
You will become a lean mean fighting machine. And if someone tries you on the street, you’re going to kick some butt.
Note: Tibloom founder Bella Trost did try BJJ – click here to see a preview of her 30-day Jiu Jitsu challenge
Sounds promising… 🙂 Let’s talk about your acting career.
Acting is fun and thanks to my agent I started to get really good roles. I started with cameos but now it is becoming more serious. It is a lot of work. I have an acting coach and I do speech training. I’m learning how to study a character and show emotion. Let’s see how far I can get.
What is the latest movie that you’re in?
I just finished a movie called American Sicario. I play a military guy in it. It is coming out soon.
What other projects are you working on?
I have a new clothing brand that will be launched before the end of the year in Europe and in the USA. It is called Machado Living Legend. It is very cool street wear, I’m really excited about it.
I also invest in and set up with my team the first Brazilian cryptocurrency called Educacoin. It is the first niche for education, culture, sports and environmental research and protection in the Amazon in Brazil.
Educacoin is already present in 18 countries and will be available in the US this year. We also support projects in countries where Educacoin is not present such as Mozambique and Israel. Educacoin is also preparing to support a major project with the Queen of the Democratic Republic of Congo with a generous donation.
Would you ever give up Jiu Jitsu one day for the sake of acting or other businesses?
I could never give up Jiu Jitsu. It’s a lifestyle for me. It’s like someone asking you to stop walking. You can’t. I will train others and train myself as long as I can move.
So the future generation might see a 100 year old Rigan doing Jiu Jitsu.
I hope so! That’s the goal.