People often talk about the journey, lifetime goals, and lifestyle.
I can say I have a mix of those packaged with a punch at every step I took since I came upon the mat at age 4.
By then I had no clue what legacy or legend meant, nor that I had any part in the midst of it.
As kids, we are spontaneous and work like sponges. All I knew the boss on the mat was either an uncle or a cousin. And that many of my siblings and cousins were all-around kind of doing the same thing.
Still, at 4 yrs old, Competition was a sweet and bitter pill for me, since I saw my arm raised through several matches, and then at the finals had to witness the other kid have his lifted instead. I had no idea why other than the fact I did not listen to my coach’s voice (then late Master Carson Gracie) and messed up on my moves thirty seconds to the end when I was still ahead on points. I admit I did cry.
Of course, there would be many other bitter and sweet moments taking place as I went through my upbringing and journey on the mats.
Especially being the youngest junior amongst savage adults who wanted to slaughter me at every session, once I became then a meager 15 yr old about to get the red pill moment once as a blue belt.
The irony became evident when the very people I dreaded seeing on the mat prior to my training sessions, (then coached by cousin Master Carlos Gracie Jr.), became the same ones who would eventually dread me, as I grew a bit more muscle and technical skills. I learned way back that being the nail first gives a different taste once you get to be a hammer. Believe me, treat those around you well, especially the juniors. Once they grow and get a bit older and smarter, you will have hands-on experience in Jiu-Jitsu payback time.
What kept me in check, for a fact, was to be a brother to other Machado’s and cousins to an army of Gracies. I never wanted to take any time off from training, since it would be too painful to deal with my slack upon returning to the mats, to be smashed to my soul by those hungry and talented bunch! I swear they kept me honest. It also helped me become more confident. If I could endure the misery I had to go thru constantly when training with my family, it gave me plenty of confidence when dealing with anyone outside that circle. I knew then that being comfortable with the uncomfortable was my main Jiu-Jitsu teenage lesson.
Well, once you know enough that you are amongst the top of your class, you also come to realize you can be of more purpose than only caring about yourself. Here we go, since 1979, there I was, an official assistant Instructor, helping those who knew less than me not to repeat my mistakes.
From then on I got purple, brown, and black belt without even noticing. I was too immersed keeping up with those who kept me in check, and ensuring that those under my responsibility would also flourish. Pay forward in Jiu-Jitsu is a real thing!
Brazil was a big country, Rio was an amazing town, but there was only so much we could get in terms of accomplishments and recognition from our peers at that time.
By the ’80s, some of our cousins decided to migrate to America, and pursue the American Dream. I guess that sounded like a plan, although it took us almost a decade to finally make the jump. Without ever knowing that April 1st of 1990, when we first landed in Los Angeles, there would be a bunch of pranks and also incredible opportunities.
I guess everyone has a guardian angel or a hero, or one of the other. Whatever the case might be, we ended up having the most badass American hero as our student and benefactor, no other than Chuck Norris.
Knowing a legend on the screen is exciting. Little I knew he was legendary even more as a person. As an advocate of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a close friend and benefactor to the Machado family, I can assure you there is a difference between luck and fate. Chuck taught me then it was fate that brought us together.
In a year span, between 1991 and 1992 my brothers and I opened up our first two academies and had a stacked up task of helping disseminate this explosive martial art that is BJJ, both in the US and abroad.
Since 1993, with the advent Of the UFC and Royce’s stunning victories, the doors for expansion were spread open.
Bear with me, since 1992 Chuck Norris had started his TV show “Walker, Texas Ranger”. And he made me an offer I could not refuse, to come to Texas and become the most beat-up of the Machado’s working on his show, as he would at the same time help me out with a new school in town. Not sure if that one was fate or luck, I took the chance anyway.
It was only then that the thought of legacy started to cross my mind. I was the only legitimate BJJ black belt anywhere in the Southwest. I might as well hurry to get and make good students, so I could have people around to push me again. I was spoiled for the longest time by having brothers and cousins at my disposal most of my life while on the mats. I could not slow down just yet.
With that came along a breed of new students, like Travis Lutter, Lovato Jr., and many others, who at any day made me earn my time on the mat.
Life was coming full circle.
Yet, it comes to a point, especially when you marry and start having kids (early 2000’s for me), that you have to set the record straight and take care of the business side as well.
Once those pieces were put in place, the legacy wheels started turning. I now can spend more time training, I can spend more time sharing what know because I have competent people who I work with who takes care of many other areas that are critical for us to keep up with.
My motto has always been “Leave your ego at the door”. More recently, since longevity is such an important aspect of the Jiu-Jitsu journey, I modified it to “Train smart, Stay Humble”.
And to summarize our mission, we define what we do by “changing people’s lives through the martial arts”. We know
That making a better student is the smaller of the goals. Making a student a better person is the real deal.
More can be said in the end, that we don’t know it all, that we don’t know enough, that there is always more to come. In my sincere and humble opinion, Jiu-Jitsu is never a job done, but will always be a work in progress!