Renato Canuto - Like Father, Like Son
In some instances, the saying “Like father like son” is meant to be an insult. However, in the case of Brazilian jiu-jitsu dynasty heir Renato Canuto, it couldn’t be a higher compliment.
Born in São Vicente, a small, coastal town in southern São Paulo, Brazil, on June 13, 1994, Renato Canuto seemed destined for martial arts greatness from the start. His father was Valdir “Tio Chico” Canuto, after all, a world-renowned jiu-jitsu enthusiast and practitioner. He had jiu-jitsu in his genes. However, it was judo that first caught Renato’s attention.
Building his fighting and grappling experience through judo, Renato largely ignored his father’s practice until 2004, when Valdir began coaching a children’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. It was in his father’s classroom, as his very first student, that he was first exposed to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He began studying in earnest and was a quick study on his father’s mats.
Renato spent much of his time on those mats as he continued to grow as both a grappler and a man. Unlike most children and teenagers, he had little interest in games or being social. He was uniquely driven, focused almost obsessively on his martial arts success. He has dreams of being a jiu-jitsu world champion. While most of his peers were at dances or playing games, Canuto could be found training or traveling to various tournaments.
His first tournament win, the Campeonato Paulista state tournament, which he competed in just a few months after starting training, was an easy win for the boy. It also served to prove that he was a true talent in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and further his incessant drive to compete and win.
Calling himself a student of the game, Canuto took elements from many of the top grapplers and analyzed their games and moves in great detail, creating his own unique style that many describe as the most attractive and eye-pleasing jiu-jitsu of his generation. And in 2016, Renato achieved his dream of becoming a world champion while still ranked as a brown belt.
That same year, Renato went to the United States to prepare for the IBJJF Pan American Championship. It was during this time that he also met and began working with Robert Drysdale, who took note of his talent and outstanding drive to succeed. His performance during training under Drysdale was so striking, Canuto was asked to remain there in Las Vegas where he had been working with Drysdale to become a coach at Drysdale’s jiu-jitsu academy. Canuto accepted and took the position as coach.
It was in December of that year that Renato’s father Valdir flew to the United States to personally award Renato with his black belt. The ceremony was unique, in that few fighters have the honor of receiving their black belt from their first instructor and father. It created a legacy that many wonder if Canuto will one day pass on to his own children.
Canuto’s career highlights include:
- 2019 IBJJF World Champion 3rd Place
- 2019 IBJJF World Champion 3rd Place
- 2018 IBJJF World Champion 2nd Place
- 2018 KASAI 170lbs Grand Prix champion
- 2018 Marianas Open champion 2nd Place
- 2017 IBJJF World No-Gi Champion
- 2017 KASAI Pro 150lbs Grand Prix champion
- 2017 USBJJF/IBJJF American Nationals champion
- 2017 UAEJJF Grand Slam – Los Angeles champion
- 2017 Marianas Open champion 3rd Place
- 2017 IBJJF Pan Champion 3rd Place
- 2016 IBJJF World Champion (brown belt)
- 2016 IBJJF World No-Gi Champion (brown belt)
- 2016 IBJJF Las Vegas International Open champion (brown belt)
- 2016 Seattle International Open champion (brown belt)
- 2016 UAEJJF Las Vegas Pro champion (brown belt)
- 2016 UAEJJF Grand Slam – Los Angeles champion (brown belt)
- 2016 IBJJF Pan Champion 3rd Place (brown belt)
- 2015 IBJJF São Paulo International Open champion (purple belt)
- 2015 CBJJ South American Champion 2nd Place (purple belt)
- 2014 IBJJF São Paulo International Open champion (purple belt)
- 2014 IBJJF Pan Champion 2nd Place (purple belt)
- 2014 CBJJ South American Champion 2nd Place (purple belt)
- 2012 CBJJ Juvenile Brazilian Nationals champion 2nd Place (blue belt)
- 2011 CBJJ Juvenile Brazilian Nationals champion 2nd Place (green belt)
Always a Student
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Renato Canuto is that despite his dynasty beginnings and his obvious skill, he still views himself as a student and still loves learning about the sport. He has worked under not only Robert Drysdale but also Rodrigo Cavaca and Leonardo Vieria. A master of bringing together the many styles he has studied and skills he has learned, Renato Canuto is widely regarded as one of the most enthralling grapplers of his generation.