Q A with Grappling World medalist and IFL champion Matt HorwichTheMat.com interviewed 2007 World Grappling silver medalist Matt Horwich about his career. Horwich was second at 92 kg/202.5 lbs. at the 2007 World Grappling Championships in Antalya, Turkey. Horwich also competes in Mixed Martial Arts, and is the current IFL champion in his weight division.
TheMat.com: What is your martial arts background and history?
Horwich: I started watching Bruce Lee movies when I was little and then I entered some Dojo Kai traditional Korean martial arts classes. That was my first real martial arts experience. When I was in high school, I saw the first UFC, which showed the undersized Royce Gracie choking much larger menacing people unconscious. I was immediately hooked and at the age of 17, I sought out Royce for my first official Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training. After that, I had a stint where I lived on the streets in Seattle, but then I started training with Team Quest in Oregon. That is when I began my MMA career.
TheMat.com: How has Grappling and MMA affected your life outside the gym?
Horwich: I have always been torn between two passions: martial arts and music. After training with Royce, I decided I wanted to pursue a music career. So, I moved to Seattle, where I thought that would be more likely to happen. For a time, I lived on the streets and indulged in the culture of the streets which included nights of heavy drinking and playing the guitar in public places. We would end up wrestling. I was teaching the other street kids submission moves. One of my friends there knew somebody at Team Quest. My passion for martial arts motivated me to change my negative choices and helped me get sober. I live by the mantra that every positive choice adds up. I try to make as many positive impacts on my life as possible. Something I have now is a healthy organic diet which includes whole wheat breads, green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli, bananas, nuts, and acai. I also really enjoy To-furkey dogs, which are turkey flavored tofu hot dogs.
TheMat.com: What adversity have you had to overcome to become a successful professional athlete?
Horwich: My time on the streets in Seattle struggling to make a living doing what I love doing. I think having the fortitude to keep searching for a career that I enjoy instead of settling for something more normal. Now, my adversity is the training I put myself through, since I have that opportunity to make a living doing what I love. My struggle is to improve every day.
TheMat.com: What is your competition philosophy, how do you mentally prepare to compete?
Horwich: I read a lot of scripture to prepare myself mentally for competition. In Psalms it says, "God trains my hands for war and gives me the strength for battle." I believe God was a warrior and we were made in his image. In Peter I it says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you," and this is how I try to relieve my competition stress.
TheMat.com: What inspires you to compete?
I have a lot of athletic inspirations including Matt Lindland, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and Big Nogueira. I also find inspiration in God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
TheMat.com: What are your thoughts on being part of the first USA Wrestling-Grappling, Team USA and the first FILA World Championships?
Horwich:It was a great experience. The Turks were so friendly and hospitable. I have thought about my loss in the finals and next time I want my corner to let me know when there is 2 minutes left in the match. That way I can just go for broke if I am losing instead of staying in the guard position.
TheMat.com: How did staying active in competitive Grappling this year help you prepare to win the IFL Grand Prix?
Horwich: I believe that staying active and adventurous prepares your competitive mind for battle. I like to stay active and keep myself physically and mentally prepared for competition.
TheMat.com: Do you think Grappling will become a mainstream sport in the future?
Horwich: Yes, I think it is already on its way. The growth of MMA will help people recognize Grappling as a valuable skill and sport. The American crowd is becoming more and more knowledgeable and that is a good sign. Now that FILA and USA Wrestling are behind Grappling there is progress being made on all levels.
TheMat.com: What are your goals for 2008?
Horwich: My goal is always the same. I want to improve day by day, fight by fight. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.
TheMat.com: Do you have any plans to compete at the 2008 USA Wrestling Grappling World Team Trials?
Horwich: Yes, my first commitment is to my MMA career, but if my schedule permits, you will definitely see me out there again this year.
TheMat.com: Do you have any advice for young athletes who are interested in becoming fighters?
Horwich: I think the best advice for anyone is that "Every Positive Choice Adds Up." Make small incremental improvements day by day and, over time, you will have improved a tremendous amount.