The Machado brothers are considered the 2nd family of Jiu Jitsu behind their cousins, the Gracies. Each of the Machado brothers are among the most respected practitioners within BJJ.
One of the more known of the Machado’s is Master Rigan Machado. He is one of the most accomplished BJJ and grappling competitors ever and considered one of the best teachers.
Rigan carved his own path within the martial art and is a highly respected representative of BJJ. This is the story of Master Rigan Machado BJJ and his lifetime journey of learning and teaching Jiu Jitsu. Starting with his early years of learning BJJ as a kid, his competitive years, and the creation of his schools.
Rigan’s Early Training Years
Rigan began learning Jiu Jitsu when he was just 5 years old. He is cousins with the Gracie family through his aunt, Carlos Gracie’s wife. Naturally being a cousin to the founding family of Jiu Jitsu, Rigan would also learn the family martial art.
When Rigan became a teenager, he started to take Jiu Jitsu more seriously and became a feared competitor. His abilities would progress exponentially once he began training under his cousin Rolles Gracie.
Rolles was considered the best in the family before his tragic accident. With Rolles’ death, Carlos Gracie Jr became the head instructor of the academy and Rigan became the assistant coach.
Shortly after Carlos Gracie Jr became head instructor, he awarded Rigan with his Jr black belt. The first ever that Carlos had ever given out.
Rigan Machado Moves To California
In the late 80s, Rigan decided to move to the US to live and train with his cousin Cesar Gracie in San Francisco. At the time, the BJJ scene in the bay area was non-existent, so Rigan moved to LA.
In LA, he started coaching at the Gracie Academy with his cousin’s Rorion, Rickson, and Royce. He stayed there for around a year before leaving due to conflicting ideologies about Jiu Jitsu with Rorion.
He then set out to start his own school, but ran into problems. Since Rorion owned the legal rights to Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Rigan couldn’t call his school this name. So, with the approval of his teacher Carlos Gracie Jr, Rigan created Machado Jiu-Jitsu with his brothers.
The Machado Bros Befriend Chuck Norris
Before the Machado brothers got their own academy, they were teaching out of their house in Redondo Beach. Then one day Chuck Norris came to their house to talk about training Jiu Jitsu with them.
Norris had trained prior at the Gracie school a few years before and wanted to start training again with the Machado’s. The Machados and Chuck Norris became pretty close.
When Norris wasn’t making a movie he would spend everyday training with the Machado brothers. Then one day he took the brothers to a shopping center in the Valley on Ventura Blvd.
At this shopping center, Norris showed them an open unit that was filled with Jiu Jitsu mats. Chuck told them this is your new academy and is a gift from me to you.
The brothers were shocked at the gesture and the best part was Norris owned the building. They didn’t need to pay rent.
An amazing gesture that helped jump start the Machado’s dream of running a school in LA. Here is Jean Jaques telling the full story in this JRE clip.
Rigan Machado Later Competition Years
In the early 90s, there really wasn’t anyone in the US at Rigan’s Jiu Jitsu level. Since he didn’t have any competition, he started practicing and competing in other grappling arts.
Competing in everything from Judo to Sambo. Medaling in both national and Pans championships within both sports.
Towards the end of Rigan’s competitive years is when the ADCC was created. Machado would compete in the first 4 ADCC tournaments earning a bronze medal in the 2000 tournament.
Rigan Machado Begins Coaching Full Time
After competing in ADCC 2003, Rigan would retire from competition and begin coaching full time. Opening his own Machado school in Beverly Hills, California.
Being in Beverly Hills, Rigan would begin attracting many celebrities that wanted to train with him. Everyone from Joe Rogan, Ashton Kutcher, and Keanu Reeves trains at his school in their celebrity program. He became pretty well known, training many celebrity BJJ Practitioners.
In 2019, he surprised Ashton Kutcher by awarding him with his BJJ brown belt.
Master Rigan Machado is one of the most respected and knowledgeable coaches in BJJ. He has done nearly everything you can accomplish. Even being an accomplished author writing “Jiu Jitsu: The BJJ Encyclopedia.”
If you are ever in Beverly Hills and get the chance, you should go train at Master Rigan’s school. He is one of the best to ever do it so be sure to check him out! Who knows, maybe you’ll run into one of your favorite celebrities while you’re out there!