Being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor all comes down to one thing; making a statement. Making a statement can take one very far in their career. Over the years the grappling world has witnessed the rise of many Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars whose competition dominance has earned them championship prestige and a legion of supporters aspiring to follow in their footsteps. Although this is a factual route in making a statement, there are other qualities aside from kicking ass and medal collecting that can make an individual stand out amongst his peers.

Carlos F. Rodriguez, also known as “Carlinhos,” is one of those rare figures that exist in the jiu-jitsu community. A important figure in the Carlson Gracie Federation, Rodriguez’s amazing story stems not only from his jiu-jitsu achievements but also the achievements he has obtained in his personal life.

Carlinhos has a family lineage built on success. Humble and keen and known for his superb chess playing talents, his father Jose Rodriguez was a well-known figure in Chicago. He has had many highlight memories that garnered him mass attention in the area which honors includes a checkmate victory over former Chess World Champion Tigran Petrosian in 1982. Unfortunately Jose Rodriguez would pass away when Carlos was only nine years old.

Carlos’s mom Ingrid Hinnah Rodriguez was also an influential figure in his life. Born in Porto Alegre Brazil, Ingrid attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where she majored in Latin American Studies. After graduating she would go on to a successful career as a teacher in Portuguese and Spanish language studies. Due to the untimely passing of her husband Ingrid took another tough role as a single parent as she strived in steering her young son Carlos to one day becoming a successful person in the future.

Following in his parents footsteps the rise of Carlos “Carlinhos” Rodriguez dates back to his arrival to the Carlson Gracie academy in 1996. Training under the legendary Carlson Gracie Sr. Brazilian jiu-jitsu would soon become a major component in life as Rodriguez’s passions was shown through his training and competitive performance.

Life as a member of the famous Bulldog Jiu-Jitsu Team was more than just about proving one’s toughness on the mat, as Rodriguez’s dedication in other areas would be revealed. As one of Carlson’s most trusted students he would later assume the role as one of the head instructors at the Carlson Gracie academy in Chicago. Like his master did for him Rodriguez would aid many students to becoming not only great competitors but also, something Carlson greatly admired which would later earn Rodriguez honors with his promotion to Black belt from the master in January of 2006.

The relationship between the student Carlinhos and Master Carlson Sr was unparalleled which extended beyond the mats, coving a more personal aspect of both their lives. During Carlson’s sick days he would constantly be found sitting at his bed side being with him every step of the way until his untimely death in 2006.  Even during his death Rodriguez’s love for his master never lessened as he went out of his way to organize his Master’s wake and funeral cost, which truly showed the appreciation and love he had for Carlson Gracie Sr.

“Carlinhos Rodriguez will forever be Master Carlson Gracie’s most loyal black belt professors.” -Ryan Beauregard.

Rodriguez has also accomplished great feats off the mat. In the mist of his success as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor he was also chasing the dream of becoming a doctor. Carlinhos attend the University of Illinois at Chicago, first and an undergraduate and then for medical school. Just like his determination and focus on the mat, Rodriguez didn’t miss a beat amongst the pool of talented student and went on to not only obtain his M.D., but finished at the top student in his field.

Now residing in Phoenix, Ariz., Carlos Rodriguez continues to prosper in all areas of his life. On of those areas is as the owner of a successful lab and clinic devoting countless hours on weekdays, weekends, and holidays to improving people’s life.

His jiu-jitsu profession never took a back seat either. Now training alongside Ryan Beauregard at Team Beauregard ( BJJ Revolution/Carlson Gracie affiliate) Carlinhos continues to excel in his training and make a strong showing in high level of competitions showcased with his recent achievement in becoming a three time black belt national champion.

Champion grappler, scholar, and humble while doing it. What more is there to say about Carlos “Carlinhos” Rodriguez and the passionate life he has lived? There is certainly no reward without sacrifice and Rodriguez’s hard work and dedication is a prime example of how one’s growth in skills can not only prove to be beneficial for their own desired goals  but also how that same sacrifice for one’s self can be used to touch many people’s live in a positive way.

About The Author

Monta Wiley
Staff Writer

Monta Wiley is an aspiring sports journalist that has covered the world of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been a regular contributor to US Combat Sports. Monta has a Bachelor's degree in Aviation Administration from California State University-Los Angeles. Outside of his writing, you can find Monta at the gym honing his BJJ technique.