Gary Lee Matsch
Gary Matsch has been training in BJJ since 1996 and in 2008 he was among the first four black belts promoted by Gustavo Dantas. Gary was inspired to learn BJJ after watching Royce Gracie dominate his opponents in the early UFCs and in 1996 started training at the Gracie Association followed by the Machado Association, both in Arizona. In 2000, he left the Machado Association as a Purple Belt to train under Gustavo where he has trained ever since. Gary has been teaching the early morning BJJ classes at Gustavo’s BJJ academy for over 10 years. In 2013 and 2014 Gary spent much of his time in England for work where he trained as a guest at both Braulio Estima’s academy and Roger Gracie’s academy.
Gary has many competition accomplishments, most notably winning 2008 Pan American and American National IBJJF Championship titles. Gary has Bachelor of Science degrees in both Nutrition and Mechanical Engineering and works in the Aerospace Industry. Gary is an entrepreneur as well and is married and has two boys.
Q&A Session Between Gary Lee Matsch and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: BJJ gives me an escape where I am living in the moment and only thinking about how to survive and defeat my opponent. The sport is always evolving and even though I have been training for over 20 years there are new techniques that I am learning for the first time just as white belts are. BJJ is humbling and is mentally challenging as much as it is physically challenging.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: My master Gustavo Dantas has been a big inspiration for me. He is also known as the BJJ Mental Coach and I have learned from him how to keep things in perspective and to control negative thoughts and self-doubt so they don’t interfere with my performance on the mats. This has helped me with my self-confidence off the mats as well. Braulio Estima has also been a big inspiration for me. I have learned a lot from his instructional videos and competition videos. His techniques are innovative and he does a great job at explaining how to perform techniques and the theories behind them.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: My goals for 2017: Improve on my foot locks, stand up and stay healthy.
My goals for the next 3 years: Become an IBJJF Masters World Champion and stay healthy.
My goals for the next 5 years: Continue to train and become a better student and instructor.
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I have been training since 1996 so a little over 21 years.
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: I typically train 3-4 times a week. I also teach twice a week at the academy and give privates on the weekends in my garage. BJJ is always on my mind!
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
My most memorable achievement was winning the Pan Americans in 2008 as a brown belt. I competed early in the day and won my division and then later in the day competed in the open division. By the time I competed all my teammates were done competing for the day so they were all surrounding the mat I was competing on and supporting me. I ended up winning the open division as well and it was a great feeling to have the support of my teammates.
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: My favorite finish is the inverted triangle either from the back, on the bottom while in side control, or from open guard.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days?
Answer: On days when I just train I have my mouth guard, tape, wallet, keys, Elite Sports BJJ Light Weight gi top, belt, and cell phone. On days I teach I have all of the above plus a change of clothes and shoes for work and a towel.
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: I think it takes hard work, commitment, and a love for the sport. I have watched people from my academy with these traits become world champions.