A few years ago I made a matrat shirt because of my love of Jiu Jitsu.
I was/am kind of new to the idea of a matrat even though I grew up in martial arts. All the martial arts I was into were those that avoided going to the ground. So, no Judo, wrestling or Jiu Jitsu. I didn’t really know what a matrat was. After a lot of sketches I finally came up with something that the coach really liked. It was a matrat with a kind of smirk, or grin. It was a cool design and might just be the best matrat ever.
As a result of drawing the matrat I started putting in a lot more time drawing and trying to get better at what I like to do. I spend a great deal of time looking over artists that I feel are the closest to how I like to draw. After spending a year or more practicing I thought I would go back to the matrat, as successful as it was, and see if I could improve on it. Every time I drew one though it was just a little bit off (or WAY off). It was either too aggressive or something else was wrong with it. Aggressive works for most things, but the matrat isn’t really about aggression, right?
Two more years go by and I find myself struggling to work past the mental blockage of drawing the matrat in a way that it meets someone else’s idea of what a matrat is. This is not to say that they are wrong. Not at all. But what it does say is that I have been trying to draw the matrat as if I was someone else. I really wanted to see what I would come up with if I just put what I think a matrat is down on paper.
To me they are neither grinning or being aggressive. They are too focused on Jiu Jitsu. Now, when they compete I am sure they would be plenty aggressive, but not 24 hours a day they aren’t. They don’t have a lot with them it seems. Just their flipflops, gear bag and phone for music or videos to study from. Their GIs are a little worn, but not completely destroyed. There are other things but I will spare you all of the details.
My drawing was a personal milestone for me. I feel I can now draw things in a style that I can call my own. Copying everyone else’s style was getting old.
This is what I came up with for the new matrat. If you are a matrat it would be really cool if you would let me know what you think of it. Is this how you see matrats, or are they more like the original character drawing?