written by Renato Magno
When he was 13 years old, Jiu Jitsu entered Renato’s life. His father, Carlos Magno, used to train with the Gracie family. Renato soon started participating in tournaments. The first medal he ever won was gold. Judo, which he practiced at the time, ended up being sacrificed for this new passion.
His development as an athlete was influenced by Masters Gastao Gracie, Jr., Carlos Gracie, Jr., and the Machado Brothers. It was the Machados who convinced Renato Magno to move from Brazil to the United States. He arrived here in 1991, as an instructor at the Machado Academies. In 1998, Renato opened his own academy ” Street Sports Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ” located in Santa Monica, California. He has about 100 students, from ages 8 to 60.
The academy is managed by his wife, Sabrina. She is responsible for a nutrition program designed to help athletes maintain good physical conditioning through advice on diet and supplements. She says the response has been positive: “They try their best to follow the program because we encourage them.”
Renato also has some illustrious pupils. As a Defensive Tactics Consultant, he teaches Jiu Jitsu secrets to the Los Angeles Police Department. He has taught more than eight thousand officers, and recently received a prize for this service. In ten years, Renato has collected many national and Pan American championships. Returning to competition is one of his New Year’s resolutions. Two years running the academy, plus occasional jobs in the film industry, leaves him little time to participate in tournaments.
Renato has participated in several cinema aand TV productions. His most recent and most important gig was performing as actor and choreographer for Spartan, a movie with Val Kilmer, which opens in March. David Mamet (the director of Spartan) has trained with Renato for 2 years. On the big screen, Renato conveys the role he plays in real life: athlete and trainer. He says, “This was a great opportunity to show Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the world.”
Renato thinks that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is successful abroad, thanks to the Gracie Family, who opened the doors for Brazilian athletes. That’s why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stands out among other martial arts. “It’s a soft art. We’re here selling the art, the technique and the philosophy, without unnecessary violence.”