Rafael was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After moving to Curitiba, Brazil when he was seven, he was introduced to Judo by a classmate, which marked the beginning of his martial arts career. Rafael's parents appreciated the structure and discipline that Judo provided for their son, and during this time, his father introduced him to BJJ. Before jumping into his Jiu-Jitsu career, intrigued by his father's heritage, Rafael moved to Italy and studied Italian upon graduating high school. After a year in Italy, when Rafael was 19, he moved to southern California in pursuit of new opportunities and was reintroduced to BJJ by a Brazilian childhood friend.
In his early years, Rafael trained twice daily, seeking every possible opportunity to learn and improve on the mat. Rafael has spent over a decade advancing his skills in the art through studying, practicing, and competing. After becoming a Black Belt, he decided to pursue a dream of starting a BJJ Academy of his own. While Rafael's accolades include being a national champion and a silver medalist in the world championships, his true gift lies in his ability to connect with people. His warm and caring personality wins over every person that meets him. For Rafael, Jiu-Jitsu is a lifestyle; it is an art that has directed the course of his adult years. His ultimate goal is to share the lifelong benefits of BJJ with the students at West Coast Jiu-Jitsu and beyond.