You can count Matt Kiichi Heafy as one the many rock stars bitten by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu bug. The 31-year-old lead singer and guitarist for the heavy metal band Trivium has been training BJJ since 2013 (ten years after the band’s first album), and he has developed such a fondness for the Gracie art that he brings a trainer and a set of mats around with him on tour.
Even if you’re not a heavy metal fan, you’re probably familiar with Matt Heafy. Last year, our very own Emil Fischer sat down with him to talk about his love of Brazil’s soft art.
Yesterday afternoon, Emil once again sat down with Heafy, who’s now a two-stripe purple belt. This time, though, I had the pleasure of joining in.
The three of us talked about leg locks and Heafy’s love for Eddie Cummings’ style, a style which Matt sadly feels he has inadequately replicated. He even went so far as to apologize to Cummings for it.
We also found out that for Matt Heafy, the saying “BJJ is a way of life” is more than just a cliche. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has not only helped the young rock star improve his guitar playing and singing, but it has helped him attain a peace of mind in the tumultuous world of heavy metal — a genre that isn’t exactly known for its soft, tranquil style.
“when I’m grappling, when I’m training, when I’m sparring, my brain is quiet, and it’s amazing.”
“Jiu-jitsu has taught me what it is to drill and how to learn something from the ground up,” Matt told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “Applying that to guitar playing and singing has been something that’s made me a far better guitar player and singer…if it weren’t for jiu-jitsu, I wouldn’t have done that; I wouldn’t have applied that intensive, heavy drilling like I do nowadays.”
Later, he told us about the way Brazilian jiu-jitsu calms his mind. He even described it as a “form of meditation” and “zen.”
“I guess I can’t remember why I got into it, but definitely why I stay in it is that it’s one of the best things for my mind. Even when Trivium is playing shows, I’m playing guitar and singing, my brain is still in other places…but when I’m grappling, when I’m training, when I’m sparring, my brain is quiet, and it’s amazing.”
You can check out our video interview with Matt Heafy below: