TRIVIUM frontman Matt Heafy, who has been training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a decade, has hit a major milestone in the martial art by being awarded his black belt.
The 37-year-old musician was promoted to the new rank more than two years after earning his brown belt. He was promoted by Gustavo "Gutty" Muggiati, who leads Gracie Barra North Orlando in Heafy's hometown of Orlando, Florida.
On Saturday (March 4),Heafy shared a photo of him with Muggiati, and he wrote in an accompanying message: "03-13-13 was the first day for me in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ did not come easy for me… in fact - it was one of the most difficult undertakings I'd ever started in my life. For the first year - I wanted to quit - but despite that. I'd go 5+ days a week - multiple hours a day. It didn't make sense for the first 3 years. I didn't retain what I needed to for the first 5 years. But still - I stuck with it and put in the time. Year 6/7 - it started to make sense. Year 8/9 - I felt I started finding my groove (finally). Year 10. The black belt is not the end. It's the beginning.
"Thank you to every person I've ever trained with, learned from, lost to; my family and friends for their support; my teammates; my academy… but most importantly: my professor Gutty. Gutty, you changed my life; you've made every one of your students' lives better.
"Here's to the next 10 years.
"My advice to all of you. Start BJJ. Now."
Heafy also shared a video of him being hit on his back with belts — once by each of his fellow practitioners — as he walked past ("faixada" in Portuguese). Advocates for the custom argue that "running the gauntlet" serves as a method of team building and reinforces camaraderie between classmates.
Back in 2016, Heafy told HardDrive Radio that jiu-jitsu had "become the biggest part of my life outside of music. Music is probably first, then jiu-jitsu," he said. "That's why I've gotten so intense with my practice schedule — I've had to learn something from the ground up.
"I remember the first time I ever grappled or sparred or fought. I was against someone who was probably 60 or 70 pounds lighter than me who was 17 years old. I thought, 'I got this.' And he choked me out in 20 seconds. I was like, 'All right, I don't know anything about this at all.' And I love that. I like things that are humbling.
"I like the fact that my entire life, I've been playing guitar and singing in TRIVIUM. I joined the band when I was 12, so to pick something up new that I didn't understand that was frustrating, weird, and difficult, and seemed impossible, and still seems impossible some days, it was a metaphor for life, learning jiu-jitsu. It's about learning about yourself, the habits you have, and what you like. And how you learn; I've learned that I'm a slow learner."
Photo credit: Black Card Films