Curriculum Q & A’s From Emails in 2000 part 2

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From: FatBuddha1, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 11:33 AM

I see 2 candles in the JKD darkness – C.J. and Matt Thornton! Matt, I admire your stand to tell it as it is rather than try to appease everyone by being politically correct which in an attempt not to offend the public ultimately hurts them by misleading them. I don’t have time right now for a longer post but I bought a book by a philosopher quoted on your website (can’t remember how to spell his name and I don’t want to butcher it) at called “On Fear” which is pretty deep. I look forward to debating you all later!

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From: Mosley, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 02:46 PM

“Being politically correct by saying “there is NO superior method” only hampers athletes from reaching superior performance levels.” Amen.

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Subject: RE: INFO

From: JKD/MMA, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 02:50 PM

I don’t believe there is much that one could call objective truth in regard to fighting because fighting is based on the individual, the very definition of subjective. Styles are at best approaches of probabilistic science. You can never completely embrace or fully rule out anything. Styles are at worst merely an illusion, a crutch people use to give themselves worth.

Although I think that BJJ has some worthwhile lessons, giving it the status of being the essential ground fighting art doesn’t hold up. Philosophically we know that the individual is responsible for how the fight goes, not the style. In some events we have witnessed, we have seen high level BJJ men lose. This doesn’t mean that BJJ is no good, but that it isn’t essential or superior.

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From: Kai Tremeche, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 03:30 PM

See, I will step out into traffic here and say that while there is no perfect method, I do not believe BJJ to be the end all of ground arts. Personally, I find any art that would center its distinction around a primarily defensive position: The guard, to be a bit flawed and a result of gamesmanship.

Any submission grappling art that is practiced like wrestling I think is the best bet for your ground game. Worry about top to bottom (From takedowns to groundwork) positional dominance, then on finishing.

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From: The Seeker, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 04:10 PM

just a point when mentioning FMA style grappling, and Silat. Their intention is to cut you and break stuff. If you put a Silat practitioner in your guard in a street fight he will stab you where you live ;). Lots of big arteries on your legs. Anyone who trained with Herman Suwanda knows what I’m talking about, or has seen Guru pull out his knife collection, especially the ring knife (I love that thing).

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From: FatBuddha1, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 06:13 PM

I must first agree again with Matt Thornton and disagree with some of the posters here that there is indeed an objective reality when it comes to fighting. That is because the human body is shaped in an objective and consistent way – we all have 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso and a head. While this is of course obvious, it is crucial to understanding that the best arts whether they be boxing or BJJ “fit” or mold the techniques that comprise the art based on the objective structure and responses of the human body. The rear naked or mata leon choke for instance would not be shaped as it is if human necks were different or larger for instance. If you are mounted on someone and punching the face, the common response is for the mounted person to turn his back to avoid the punches (to use a simple example) If humans were shaped differently or we had to fight aliens the most advanced martial arts that seek to conform to how the human body is shaped would simply not work and would have to be revised.

Brazilian Jiu jitsu has discovered the most efficient system to disable a person on the ground using these objective laws.

I reject the notion that martial arts are subjective. Someone posted that stuff the BJJ practitioners use “doesn’t work” and they sometimes lose in fights. Sometimes automobiles don’t work either but you don’t hear people proclaiming what a crazy invention that automobile is! Do we hear people still debating in the 21st century that “Maybe sometimes it would work with a square tire and sometimes with a round tire, it all depends!” A square shaped tire is just as good as a round tire, give it a chance! No, there are objective laws in mechanics, in the universe, and in martial arts.

The overwhelming, and I mean overwhelming number of fights by skilled Brazilian jiu jitsu stylists ON THE GROUND has demonstrated this probability and objective reality. It has always been a street fighting art and a total system of ground fighting. I don’t think it’s lack of spitting, hair pulling etc. make it any less effective because I would rather completely shut down a person by cutting off the flow of oxygen to their brain than annoy them with tactics based on pain and not gross structural damage. It is complete as a ground fighting system and I do believe it has an answer for every “nook and cranny” on the ground as long as they continue to make people with 2 arms and 2 legs.

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Subject: RE: INFO

From: FatBuddha1, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 06:19 PM

One last thing, just wanted to thank Anything Goes for supporting the free flow of information and discussion on this board. Over 23 posts over 3 days had me labeled as a troll that should be banned and burned for heresy before Matt Thornton posted. I truly believe that too much is held sacred in the martial arts and that is only holding us back. Well, time to go Train!

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Subject: tired debate

From: smartmonkey, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 06:39 PM

I see some of you still don’t understand the distinction. The street vs sport, BJJ has rules, grappling should include biting, hair pulling, etc., is a straw man. It’s a tired and meaningless debate. It’s also the excuse that every master of DEAD martial arts from the traditional schools uses to explain his arts non-effectiveness in a full contact environment. So anyone seeking to use this argument should be wary.

Let me be as clear as possible. I will borrow some of Dan Inosanto’s terminology here, and yes Mr Inosanto is a Black Belt with the Machados, whom I consider some of the best GRAPPLING coaches in the world. (Try biting Rigan sometime, I worked it with him once and it sucks!).

You need to make a distinction between a “delivery system” and a sporting application of an art. As an example we will use a man I admire very much, Renzo Gracie. Renzo could see a bite, a foul tactic, a version of an armlock, from Silat, or White Crane, or Yellow Monkey Fever, etc. etc., and probably be able to INTEGRATE and apply that move very quickly. Why? Because he already has such a strong base on the ground. He understands the positions, and he has a great delivery system. Compare that with say an Aikido stylist. He may see the same application for a bite, or a choke, etc., but never be able to effectively use it. Especially against a wrestler or another ground fighter. Why? Because he doesn’t have that delivery system.

Mo Smith could see a punch or a kick or an elbow, from just about any striking art and probably apply it very quickly to his game. Why? Because he has a STRONG BASE in the delivery system of western boxing. Boxing has the body mechanics, footwork, timing, etc., that allow Mo to INTEGRATE those moves.

Randy Couture could see a sweep from say. . Judo, and probably use it right away. Why? Because he has a strong base in wrestling, and Greco. My main job at the SBG is to see that everyone that walks through the door develops that strong base in the delivery systems of stand up, clinch, and ground.

Because they have a strong base in BJJ, Boxing, Wrestling, etc., DOES NOT therefore mean that they are “Sport Fighters”. That’s faulty logic and poor assumptions.

In fact some SBG Instructors, including myself, spend a large percentage of time teaching law enforcement, and civilian self-defense. Many drill daily using “foul tactics”. It would be a HUGE mistake to assume that because they are very good at the delivery systems that they are not self-defense orientated.

Without a strong base on the ground, on your feet, and in the clinch, you can attend every “street fighting” seminar in the world. Study every grappling art in existence, and still never be much of a fighter. That’s the problem with the JKD Concepts paradigm. Does that mean all JKD Concepts people are like that? Of course not. Some have taken the time, and the pain that’s involved in earning that strong base.

I have people walk through my gym door every week from out of town. They are here to take privates, and many aspire to be SBG instructors. The first thing they do is roll on the mat, and most cannot hang with the white belts at my gym, let alone the blue or purple belts. Then, they box, and often they turn their back, reach out, fold under the pressure of being hit. It’s just an environment they are not used to. They go away with a list of things to work on, a true knowledge of where their real skill level is, and hopefully a positive and productive experience. But, they do not go away with instructors’ certificates.

In a few cases I have looked online and seen that a month or so later these same people have traveled to other JKD Instructors and become “certified” instructors. I think that’s fine but that’s not what the SBG is about. Even if someone says that the only goal they have is to teach beginners ‘self-defense’, they still must OWN a good BASE in stand up, clinch, and ground. That doesn’t mean we are a SPORT gym. It just means we have high standards.

Once that BASE is acquired, then an athlete can go on to integrate other moves, or ideas very easily. They will be able to put those moves into CONTEXT because they have a strong base of skill. Without that base people become lost in a classical mess very easily. Led astray very easily, because they just don’t understand.

A purple belt in BJJ who knows how to bite and gouge eyes is a COMPLETELY different beast from a “street fighter” who bites and gouges eyes but doesn’t have the base in that ‘delivery system’. If you want to be a good fighter, and reach your own personal full potential, you MUST have that base.

Also, I do not dismiss the danger of blades. In fact I know just how dangerous they can be, and so does every other SBG instructor. They are part of the curriculum, and they are addressed. But, I am very wary of people who talk about cutting arteries, and stabbing people in the guard, etc. Many times (not always) these people tend to be the kids that got picked on in school, lack a certain sense of self-esteem, etc. I believe that people like this can be greatly helped through SPORTS. Whether it’s boxing, wrestling, BJJ, Judo, NHB, etc. This type of athletic event can help someone like this gain real self-esteem. But too often, instead of going that route, I see them being drawn into the “street fighting/tactical” stuff. And I think this usually just increases their paranoia and fear, and eventually leads to anger.

This is why I think the sports paradigm is much healthier. The weaker members of our society are the ones that can use sports to improve their life the most. True self defense skills like awareness, maturity, lack of substance abuse, firearms, pepper spray,etc, can always be added and should always be added. The scared kids that get picked on are best helped through sports, and they are the ones I enjoy teaching the most because I have seen such a productive and great change that sports can bring to them. -Matt Thornton

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From: Mosley, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 07:13 PM

“Without a strong base on the ground, on your feet, and in the clinch, you can attend every “street fighting” seminar in the world. Study every grappling art in existence, and still never be much of a fighter. That’s the problem with the JKD Concepts paradigm.”

-Coming from that paradigm I totally agree. People tend to get caught up in the “coolness” of exotic systems rather than focusing on high percentage material.

“But, I am very wary of people who talk about cutting arteries, and stabbing people in the guard, etc. The weaker members of our society are the ones that can use sports to improve their life the most. True self defense skills like awareness, maturity, lack of substance abuse, firearms, pepper spray,etc, can always be added”

-IMO It always seems to be these people who are least likely to participate in the combat sports and gut it out in hard training and conditioning and put their time in. They rely on the “street fight” type of argument in a defeatist fashion IMO to cover their fear of participation and exposing their egos to damage when they really stand to benefit and grow.

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From: smartmonkey, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 08:20 PM

Well said Mosley, the people who need it the most tend to do it the least.

BasketballBallJones, I am not sure anyone would want to functionalize a move that wasn’t simple, direct and effective. Why would you try? But, if you are asking me who would be better at slamming their forearm into my face, a Choy Lay Fut guy, or someone like Mo Smith, I am afraid I have to go with Mo every time.

In regards FatBuddha’s post. He is again 100% correct. THERE IS a best way to do things. Let me give another example. The basic armbar from mount. Their is a correct and an incorrect way to do it. There’s a way that is most effective. Keeping your heels to your butt, pinching your knees together, and driving your toes into the mat. All those little details make that technique effective against bigger stronger men. Those details remain the same no matter who is using them, or what “style” they claim.

Now as far as getting into that position, setting it up, etc., that’s a whole different thing. JJ Machado (who is amazing and puts a whole new meaning into the ‘active guard’!) will get that armlock in a completely different manner then say, his brother Rigan Machado(who puts a whole new meaning into crushsides…I mean crossides). They have very different games that have been developed the only way you can develop a game, through Alive sparring.

However, if you go to them to teach you HOW to DO an armbar, they will both teach the exact same principles, heels to butt, knees together, toes to mat, etc. Why? Because their is a correct, and most effective way to do that armlock.

The same can be said for a right cross, a choke, etc. In my opinion, the thing most lacking in JKDC circles is these basics. Many JKD’rs have huge notebooks filled with 12 variations of an armbar, from four different systems, but the basics of what makes an armbar a GOOD armbar are unknown. These basics, or delivery systems, need to be mastered whether you want to train for SELF DEFENSE, STREET FIGHTING, BJJ, or any SPORT. It doesn’t matter. Without them you can’t grow and go on to begin to develop your own individual style, your own JKD.

I think the reason for that is two fold, lack of ALIVENESS, or knowing how to drill athletically without patterns, and also an unwillingness to acknowledge these objective truths that are based on the physics of body mechanics and leverage. That is why I think FatBuddha’s post is one of the best I have seen on this forum. Far from being a “troll” post, he is actually pointing out one of the major flaws with the most widely used JKD concepts paradigm.

-Matt Thornton

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From: Calbert, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 11:23 PM

I did have a nice long post, but my computer randomly shut off, so this time I’ll keep it short. I just want to say that I love Matt’s statements about having a “delivery system.” I totally agree. I think that a so-called street fighting expert who uses bites, eye gouges, spitting, etc. will always be inferior to a conditioned athlete who has the ability to bring the “dirty” tricks to the table as well as the timing, speed, power, etc. that he or she has learned from consistent resistance training. Yes, you can learn something from any art (the key word being something), but I do think that there are some systems which overall better address the situation of fighting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn principles from any other art, it just means that you should established a technical base before dipping in to another system based on the premise that “I can learn something from this too.” I think that being all-inclusive is dangerous and can lead to lost potential. I have to agree with one of my favorite philosophy professors when he said, “When first learning philosophy it is ok to be a fence sitter and accept all ideas, but at some point in your philosophy career you have to evaluate what you really believe and start making declarative statements.” I think this holds true here. At some point I think it is necessary to discover the objective truth of fighting and that some arts better serve this than others. Yes, there is an element of subjectivity in fighting, but it has to be the case that there is some sort of objectivity. For example, it has to be the case that with the training methods and body mechanics of boxing, that it is superior in terms of fighting to wu shu or Aikido. Yes, there are other things to be learned from these arts, but the overall idea is that boxing as a whole generally teaches more effective methods for dealing with today’s fighting needs. And like I said before, I don’t think saying this goes against the JKD idea. As a matter of fact, I think that it addresses the very heart of JKD; to be able to recognize what is functional from what is not. We do have to absorb what is useful, but that doesn’t mean absorb everything and to be all-inclusive. We research it, and when we discover the reality of it, we determine if it is worth anything or not. Yes, the determination is base on personal, subjective needs, but it is also based on variables out of our control such as environment, the opponent, etc. and it is this objectivity which is better addressed by training those arts with superior body mechanics training methods and simplistic techniques. Well, I guess I didn’t keep it short. Later! C.J.

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Subject: RE: INFO

From: JKD/MMA, Date: 17-Jan-02 | 11:56 PM

“Brazilian Jiujitsu has discovered the most efficient system to disable a person on the ground using these objective laws.”

I must not have gotten the script. Beyond that, nothing was discovered, but instead invented. BJJ isn’t some truth that exists independently from human beings. It also doesn’t have a monopoly on ground fighting. If it did, Kimura wouldn’t have beaten Helio Gracie.

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Subject: correctly stated

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 01:18 AM

Actually it should be nothing new is ‘invented’ but rather, re-discovered.

There is certainly nothing new under the sun and although we don’t know what the ancient Greek pankration looked like, it most probably had similar moves, chokes, locks, etc.

In every generation these things need to be RE-discovered as they become lost in the classical mess.

In regards to Helio, he was greatly outweighed, and it was a victory for him to survive. Kimura was no doubt fantastic. Kimura also said himself that Helio was the most technical man he had ever fought, and offered him a position at the Kodokan teaching; a great honor. It’s sad that shortly after his death the art was mostly lost in Japan (with the exception of some great Judoka, but the nature of the rules played mostly to the stand up). I am happy that the Brazilians re-ignited the flame and it’s back in Japan as never before.

In regards to a superior method, FatBuddha is still correct. There is a BEST way to do an armbar, perform a choke, etc. It’s based on physics, and it can be found in BJJ. Once you have that base delivery system you can go on and add variables and moves from all kinds of arts but you must have a working knowledge of that system. Look what happened to the wrestlers before they understood the guard, and look how well they do now. People like Couture and other all cross train in BJJ. So does every other competitive MMA athlete in the world. It’s simply a must. Call it what you want, but if you are doing the guard, mount, etc., then it’s BJJ and it wasn’t well known before the Brazilians arrived. That’s a simple truth.

Hopefully more JKDr’s will learn this fantastic system and then go on and “evolve” through Alive training. Without Aliveness, there can be NO evolution.

-Matt Thornton

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From: JKD/MMA, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:28 AM

BJJ is very efficient, but it is only one way of many that the world has seen. Many systems with little or nothing to do with BJJ use the mount, guard, etc. I’m not trying to belittle BJJ, but I don’t believe that there is any such thing as a superior style. If so, then wouldn’t the exponents of that style always win? If a BJJ stylist were to lose while fighting on the ground, would the system then lose its merit? How could the best way of doing things lose? There is too much uncertainty in the world to have a carved in stone law that states what works and what doesn’t. Instead, I believe that it is me, and only me, that is responsible for the outcome of a fight.

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Subject: answer

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 03:16 AM

You are correct that it’s always the individual. That goes without saying, and again misses the point of the conversation.

In regards, “if BJJ loses on the ground, does that mean BJJ is not the ultimate martial art on the ground?” I don’t know anyone who implied that. The idea that any system could make a man invincible is silly, and again not related to this conversation.

Anyone who is familiar with the SBG curriculum knows that western wrestling, Greco and freestyle, are also a huge part of what we do. (I like Judo as well, but don’t do enough of it myself.)I am not suggesting that any one art has all the answers to a fight. Nobody is. If you think they are, you misread, or do not understand the posts. That’s not even what this conversation is about.

Calbert stated this very clearly when he said “I think that a so-called street fighting expert who uses bites, eye gouges, spitting, etc. will always be inferior to a conditioned athlete who has the ability to bring the “dirty” tricks to the table as well as the timing, speed, power, etc. that he or she has learned from consistent resistance training. Yes, you can learn something from any art (the key word being something), but I do think that there are some systems which overall better address the situation of fighting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn principles from any other art, it just means that you should established a technical base before dipping into another system based on the premise that I can learn something from this too. I think that being all inclusive is dangerous and can lead to lost potential.”

To, again, repeat myself: What I am saying is that there is a CORRECT and proper way to perform an armbar, or a rear naked choke, etc. that will allow you to achieve the desired results as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is simply a reality. Whether JKD’rs choose to acknowledge that reality doesn’t change the truism (to quote one of my heroes President TR, who also did Jits by the way)

All fighters, be they self-defense people, sport people, whatever, need to learn those mechanics. I gave a very real example of an armbar. Heels to your butt, toes into the mat, knees together, etc. An armlock with the knees spread apart may still sometimes work, but it’s not the most efficient way to do an armbar, and will allow a skilled opponent a chance to escape that he may otherwise not have.

Now getting into a position to acquire that armlock, that is a whole different story. A wrestler like Couture will find a way into that armbar much differently than a BJJ player like JJ Machado. But once both athletes get into that position, and acquire that arm, guess what. . . .heels to the butt, knees together, toes into the mat.

It’s a clear, simple, and true reality that there are MOST effective ways to execute these moves.

Does that mean that BJJ makes you a super man? Of course not, only a child would believe that, or wish that to be true.

The JKD politically correct idea that all grappling arts are equal only misleads, and hurts those that may actually be seeking truth, grace, and honesty in motion.

I have film footage of Judoka using the Guard in the 30’s. But it’s simply a lie if you attempt to take away credit for the rampant modern day usage of positions like the guard, mount, etc., away from the Gracie family. Give them the credit they deserve. If it wasn’t for the Gracies and Machados how many of us would have ever learned what the word ‘guard’ meant?

Thank you Rickson, thank you Gracies, thank you Rigan!

take care -Matt Thornton

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From: RobRPM2222, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 03:36 AM

If BJJ was a superior style for ground fighting, BJJ black belts wouldn’t get tapped by Shooto fighters who haven’t been training as long as they have. The “but they do BJJ!” bit is mostly a way for BJJ’ers to retain face now. If it’s true that Shooto is now BJJ because they may use some BJJ positions (positions that were already in Shooto but not concentrated on) wouldn’t BJJ now also be Shooto because of the extended leg lock borrowing? Or is it just when BJJ is borrowed that an art becomes BJJ, but when BJJ borrows from an art then BJJ is still intact?

I don’t have half the martial arts experience Matt does, so I hope he doesn’t take this as just some punk kid insulting him or something. But I humbly submit that there are two kinds of martial arts- those that test themselves and grow- and those that are just stagnant and/or test themselves and don’t learn anything from it. In our modern interconnected world, where you can learn good martial arts from so many different styles if you are willing to go where they are, tracking down who taught who what is kind of pointless. The point is whether or not the shit works (which usually means it comes from one of the “test and grow” arts).

I don’t give a rat’s ass where it comes from, as long as it works.

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Subject: missed the point

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 04:11 AM

Rob, no worries. But I, again, think you also missed the point, or did not read all my posts.

I stated earlier that I think some of the modern Shooto guys are some of the best grapplers in the world at their weight class.

Again, watch Shooto prior to Rickson, and post-Rickson; it’s not a coincidence. It’s not a coincidence that one of Shooto’s top fighters, Yuki Nakai, went on to become one of Japan’s first black belts in BJJ, and compete in the worlds. Yukai is a true warrior, after being blinded in one eye in Vale Tudo.

I also agree, 100%, the name does not matter, nut the reason those grapplers like Sato, Uno, Sakarai, Egan Inoue, etc., are so good is because they KNOW THOSE SAME BASIC DELIVERY SYSTEMS that all good grapplers know!

Sato, as an example is very well versed in an armbar from the guard. He gets it quickly and very tight. Heels to butt, knees together, etc. It’s the same armbar mechanics that every BJJ player, or modern day MMA fighter in the world today knows. But again, give the Brazilians credit for that.

It is true the Shooto guys are great at leglocks, but so were many Brazilians. The fact that there is more NHB, and especially NO-GI competitions going on are also a major reason why the leg locks are so widely used now, as compared to the earlier days. The GI makes leg locks much less effective and fast as compared to no-gi competition. The best leg lock guy I have seen to date is Fabio Santo’s brown belt Dean Lister. His footlocks are smoking.

In regards to training . . .I agree 100%, I’d be just as likely to train at Sato’s Gym as I would a BJJ school. But, that’s because they have those SAME BASIC SKILLS.

Again, call it Shooto, BJJ, Yellow Monkey Palm Grappling, who cares (we have a zero terminology rule at the gym anyway). I call it BJJ because that is who I learned it from, and I want to give my friends and coaches their rightful credit. That still does not change the truism that there is a BEST way to perform the function of an armbar, choke, elbow escape from mount, etc. And it still doesn’t mean we should take away credit from the Brazilians who created this huge grappling boom that we have all benefited from.

Does that mean ALL BJJ coaches are great grapplers or teachers? Of course not! Nobody is stating that. I have seen some brown belts that I think should be blue belts. But they are usually the exception rather than the rule, because in BJJ you have to prove your skill on the mat. That is one of the things that makes this gentle art so beautiful.

Get out and learn those basics. -Matt Thornton

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Subject: one more time b4 bed

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 04:45 AM


I agree with you. These threads are essential. Any board where everyone agrees all the time, is a board where nobody is usually learning anything.

Here is what I perceive to be the fault in your logic.

You stated: “I agree that there are more efficient ways of arm barring somebody, but the thread started out as a why BJJ is essential to ground fighting thread.” BJJ is not essential, but the DELIVERY SYSTEM taught by BJJ is. I call this delivery system BJJ, don’t let that lead you off track. The fact is that this “delivery system” is now used by BJJ, Shooto, Lutra Livre, Pat Militich’s Gym, SBG, Carlos Newton, Frank Shamrock, etc., but the fundamental moves such as an armbar, choke, knee ride, etc. These are all the same, and YES there is a BEST way to do them. As such, all arts are not equal. An art that does not incorporate these principles, for an example a grappling art that has no guard, or an Art that teaches you to armlock with your legs spread apart and top leg behind the guys head, would be, by its very nature, LESS effective than the above mentioned systems of training. This is a simple truth.

Now you may laugh at that example, but I have seen JKDC people doing bizarre moves that are just as silly as the one I just described and giving them just as much credence as a functional and proven armbar. That is the problem.

You may also ask why I still call it BJJ. That’s because that is who taught me that delivery system, and I feel it’s important to be honest and give my Brazilian friends and coaches that credit. I also made a personal pledge to Rickson Gracie many years ago to always give BJJ credit when it’s deserved. I will always honor that pledge. My ground game is 90% BJJ, my personal style, is MY personal style. My method for developing that style was Aliveness. I believe Aliveness to be the fruition of JKD, and what Bruce Lee was after. Enough said.

You also stated: “If BJJ were essential to ground fighting, then how could anything else not win. In more real terms, how could anyone out-grapple a BJJ fighter if he himself lacks these essential skills?”

Lets try this. . .take the above stated sentence that you wrote, and replace BJJ with the words ‘that delivery system’. And see if it still makes any sense.

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Subject: continued….

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 04:46 AM

I think FatBuddhas original post made some of you angry, or caused a knee jerk reaction. But to FatBuddha’s (you gotta love that name!) credit, he was very articulate in his later posts, which had me wondering why so many of you didn’t get his point.

Too often in martial arts, politics, and churches we get way too hung up on semantics, and it muddies the water. As Krishnamurti said, “The WORD is not the THING”.

And last but not least, let me ask, “How many of us would be doing grappling at all if it was not for the Brazilians?” Larry Hartsell would be, Gene Labell would be, maybe some others, but it was the Gracies and Machados that caused this explosion. I think it’s important from a truth standpoint to give them credit for that and for making the DELIVERY SYSTEM so widespread.

Finally, I never take it as a threat or insult when someone disagrees with me. I believe in my heart what I am saying is true; otherwise I would not say it. So there is no fear there, and as such, not much anger. I think of it as an opportunity to make my point to the public at large, and hopefully spread a little SBG charisma your way. If I didn’t have any critics I wouldn’t get that chance. Thank you critics!

Seriously, calling FatBuddha’s post a troll post, rather than objectively listening to his ideas was one of the most non JKD things a JKD’r could do. Only cults and con men, threaten or become fearful of critics (and they usually ask others to do it!).

This is a great forum, and I appreciate the intelligence that most all of you show on it. Off to my bed, I have a beautiful women waiting for me there, and women are SO much more important than this whole paradigm. Isn’t that what life’s really about? -Matt (there is more to life than MA) Thornton

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Subject: RE: INFO

From: 4 Ranges, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 10:57 AM

Here’s another scenario:

What if a cross-trained wrestler goes up against an expert, cross-trained BJJ’er? Would BJJ win then?

Well…not always. Again, in UFC 34, Carlos Newton snaps on a beautiful triangle on Matt Hughes. Hughes picks up Newton, slams him on the ground, and ko’s Newton. New welterweight champ. I certainly don’t doubt how that move would work on the street either (btw, ain’t no way I’m pulling a triangle on the street).

It all goes back, really, to what Bruce and a bunch of JKD’ers have been saying all along: there is no “correct” or “best” way to fighting, because what ultimately decides the outcome of the fight is not the STYLE, but the INDIVIDUAL. The INDIVIDUAL, and his/her attributes, decides the outcome.

BJJ the best? For some individuals, yes. I practice it myself (although I’m just a lowly blue-belt). I think it’s an absolutely great system. Is it the absolute, bar-none best? No.

Remember: it’s the individual that determines the fight, not the style.

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Subject: listen again

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 12:40 PM

4 ranges, your post was redundant. Read the above stated posts again. Nobody is arguing against your premise. Not even FatBuddha. You are preaching to the choir there.

Again, I said clearly that it is the individual that makes the difference. everyone knows this already. That is again, not the point.

What is the point is that if someone were to attempt to become familiar with the range of grappling (as you stated in your post), without having a strong base in the delivery system that is found within BJJ, (and now just about all other functional grappling arts), then their attempt would be futile.

Fat Buddha listed three arts “Harimu Silat, shoot wrestling, and Dumog”.

Silat, or as I mentioned earlier, the modern day Shooto, is really no different on the ground than the modern day no-gi BJJ, but assuming he meant ‘old school’ Shooto as it was practiced before Rickson, he was absolutely correct.

Just ask yourself this simple question, could someone become “familiar with the range” (as you put it), without also being familiar with the positions that are found in BJJ? Again don’t become hung-up on the word BJJ, substitute the words ‘delivery system’ if it helps. If you answer yes, then you are simply wrong. Someone who was not ‘familiar’ with the mount, guard, etc., isn’t really familiar with the ground are they? If your answer is no, then guess what . . .you agree with FatBuddha.

He may not have worded his original post as politically correct as some of you would have liked, but his basic premise is absolutely true. If you are not familiar with the delivery system found in BJJ, (and now most all the functional grappling arts) then you are not familiar with the ground. Studying Harimu, or Silat or Dumog, or White Crane Kung Fu, etc., without a working knowledge of those POSITIONS, and those DELIVERY SYSTEMS, would be futile if your goal was functional skill on the ground.

That is just a cold reality. A truth. One that every JKD’r in the world would be wise to pay attention to. Mastering the basics of that delivery system in an ALIVE manner is what will make you “familiar” with that range. And guess what . . .that is the only thing that will make you familiar with that range.

Go see Adam. Bite him, pinch him, gouge him, but for God’s sake DON’T WRESTLE WITH HIM if he says “you look pretty sexy today”. Just ask Myatovich what can happen if you do! -Matt (Georgia women love me) Thornton

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I think this whole argument is redundant, considering it’s been argued before (in fact, most JKD arguments are redundant really). But just because someone posted something before me (and others have posted before them, and before them, etc.), doesn’t mean I shouldn’t post my opinions.

I don’t think you have to be familiar with ANY delivery system to become familiar with a particular technique. Why?

1) The positions are found in many “delivery systems.” (This cannot be disputed)

2) These positions occur outside and beyond the notion of a “delivery system.” Have you ever seen a popular video clip of a wolverine fighting a wolf?

From our “conditioning”, the wolverine plays open guard with the wolf (even spinning on its back a la’ spider guard), eventually submitting it with a kino mutai. Do you think this wolverine has ever seen a BJJ match, let alone taken privates with a Gracie? Err, we could check Gracie attendance sheets, but I’d assume the answer is “no.” So how did this wolverine “know” how to be “familiar” with this “position?” Because TRUTH is not bound to any system.

Fatbud’s post is not “offensive” in the sense that it’s not PC. IF you read it carefully, it’s basically saying that BJJ is the best ground delivery system, and that studying other ground delivery systems is futile. I just disagree with that notion, because I’d be limiting myself to just one “truth” with regards to fighting. It may very well be the “best” truth for some (including myself), but I’m not one to limit myself to just one delivery system.

Like I’ve said before, I am a BJJ practitioner, a constant competitor at grappling events, and I”ve benefitted greatly from it. I have a hard-earned blue-belt, so I’m not a “Gracie-basher.” I simply don’t believe that the “truth” in grappling or martial arts can be found in any one “delivery system”, no matter how good it is.

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From: Burton, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:06 PM

Anyone who spends most of their time sparring will come to the same conclusion after do so consistently for a few years. It is all about applying technique, not just knowing a litany of moves. I knew lots of lock flows on the ground, went to the Machados, and could never apply any of them until I had a year of training. It is about performance! About the BJJ aspect, every wrestler who has learned ground and pound does so effectively after being armbarred, swept, or triangled from the guard. If you practice to deal with the modern guard, that is BJJ leading the way. Summation: Just spar every time you train, and everything will become clear. Enjoy! p.s. Hey Matt, Let me know your schedule so we can work out a time to get together and play.

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Subject: RE: INFO

From: 4 Ranges, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:11 PM


Also, realize that you advised me to not get “hung-up” on the word “BJJ.” Err…didn’t this whole discussion get started because someone got hung-up on that word, and said that it was better than all these others words (Silat, Dumog, etc.)? Me and a couple of other dudes said something like “hey don’t get hung up on that ‘this style is better than that style’ crap, ‘cuz it’s old.”

You too, I see, are preaching to the converted. 🙂

Mount, guard, side-mount…these positions can be found in a lot of grappling styles (wrestling, sambo, etc.)…even in a national geographic video. What does this prove? The truth exists outside of all forms, to quote Bruce Lee.

Not here to prove someone right or wrong. Just here to express my opinion

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From: Burton, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:06 PM

Anyone who spends most of their time sparring will come to the same conclusion after do so consistently for a few years. It is all about applying technique, not just knowing a litany of moves. I knew lots of lock flows on the ground, went to the Machados, and could never apply any of them until I had a year of training. It is about performance! About the BJJ aspect, every wrestler who has learned ground and pound does so effectively after being armbarred, swept, or triangled from the guard. If you practice to deal with the modern guard, that is BJJ leading the way. Summation: Just spar every time you train, and everything will become clear. Enjoy! p.s. Hey Matt, Let me know your schedule so we can work out a time to get together and play.

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Subject: almost

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:21 PM

4 ranges, almost but still not there.

Again, you avoided the question. Can you become familiar with the range of the ground without being familiar with the positions and moves that work there, such as guard, mount, armbar, etc.? If you answer NO, then we agree on all counts except semantic ones. You are caught up on the words BJJ, and now you are caught up on the words ‘delivery system’. That’s the problem with language; it confuses many people. That is why Krishnamurti always repeated the word is not the thing.

Lets try one last time, you said:

“1) The positions are found in many “delivery systems.” (this cannot be disputed)”

Here is where you are not understanding my point, The word ‘positions’ you mentioned in that sentence ARE that delivery system I am talking about. A delivery system is NOT a style, but rather a type of mechanics.

To use another example, Muay Thai, western Boxing, Panantukan, and Savate, are all very different styles. Muay Thai and Savate as an example are vastly different in attitude, approach, and the types of tools used. However, at their core exists the SAME DELIVERY SYSTEM. Which is the body mechanics that are found in western boxing. Without that delivery system you cannot use Muay Thai, or Savate effectively. WITH that delivery you can cross train between all arts and do well.

That is the difference.

Another good example would be a hip throw. You can find the hip throw in Freestyle wrestling, Greco Wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Mongolian wrestling, Icelandic wrestling, Swedish wrestling, Chinese wrestling, and Dumog, just to name a few. But, the DELIVERY SYSTEM for the hip throw, or ‘hip toss’ always remains the same. The mechanics of the move are essentially, always the same, a back step, level change, hip bump, and toss. Why? Because there is a CORRECT way to do it. And every art that trains Alive in throwing has found it.

I could go on and on with examples, but hopefully you see the point. Without the delivery system you cannot become familiar with the range, and thus you cannot effectively realize the goal of JKD, to become effective at all ranges.

Whether you choose to call that delivery system BJJ, Shooto, or Wolverine Style, is redundant, not because it’s been posted before, but because it is a semantic, and not a real difference. Go see Adam, he is one of our best coaches, and he can demonstrate these concepts in way that my words could never do justice. -Matt Thornton

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From: 4 Ranges

Date: 18-Jan-02 | 02:47 PM

I agree that we are arguing semantics. The minute my head starts to spin with regards to a martial arts discussion, I KNOW it’s an argument in semantics.

1) My point is simply this: these mechanics exist outside of these styles. Therefore, to say “BJJ is better than any grappling style” is ridiculous, considering these delivery systems exist in many other styles. OK, now that’s out of the way.

2) If we go with our wolverine/wolf fight, my answer would have to be yes. Because, again, we must ask ourselves: where the heck did this wolverine learn to respond, in such a way, to an attack, while it is on its back? It doesn’t have a certificate in BJJ, or a belt from the Gracies. Unless Rickson and Royler are going out to the woods, giving free privates to a pack of wolverines, I’d say our wolverine simply RESPONDED to its situation. It didn’t “know” what the heck it was doing! It was simply trying to survive, based on its instincts.

Let’s try this angle again, but let’s look at it from a human perspective: quite a few of Tyson’s trainers have said that Tyson came into the gym with his explosive power BEFORE HE HAD EVEN HAD ONE TRAINING SESSION. In fact, many boxing trainers (and boxers) believe that power is something that one either has or doesn’t have; either knows how to ko, or not. In fact, during his first sparring session, he nearly knocked out his trainer with a well-timed JAB.

Where did tyson learn his delivery system? Where did he get the mechanics to properly deliver ko blows without having taken boxing lessons? The answer, to me (you can take it or leave it), is that this familiarity with range AND mechanics is a truth that one has through experience or an innate understanding. This is why my answer to your question is “yes”, because there are too many examples (human or otherwise) to prove that one doesn’t have to “learn” a style in order to become familiar with a range or with delivery systems.

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Subject: people are not wolverines

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 03:13 PM

4 ranges,

I respect your point. It now sounds more along the lines of something I would like to agree with. The problem with that theory is that as good as it sounds it has not proven true. (with the exception perhaps of that wolverine.)

How many people used their “innate understanding” to choke people out with their legs from the guard before BJJ came along?. How many people use their innate understanding to execute a footlock before they studied grappling? How many people could use “innate understanding” to escape from the mount when some angry Brazilian who is technical, and bigger, is sitting on their ribcage and punching them in the face?

In regards to boxing, it is well know that power is something that some people are just born with. Foreman is a good example. It’s also the last attribute to decline in a boxer. Which is why Foreman could fight on into his 40’s. Another innate attribute would be being able to take a punch, having a good chin. Some boxers are just born with one, and you can’t ‘develop’ one. But that again is not what I am discussing or what FatBuddha was discussing.

I love the thought of “innate understanding”, it’s a good thought, and I will go so far as to say there is such a thing as “primal knowledge”. My good friend Chris Haueter discussed this at an SBG Camp about five years ago. Watch children fight and you will see them naturally roll, and tumble and take mount position, etc. In fact, in Gene Labell’s book published 30 years ago he demonstrates the mount under the name “schoolboy pin”. It’s visceral, primal, and natural. However, it’s a fantasy if you go so far as to say you no longer need training in a delivery system to become a good fighter. You would be ignoring all the hard earned knowledge of the fighters and coaches that came before. It would be foolish.

How good would Tyson be if he didn’t study and train in the mechanics of boxing? How many matches do you figure he could have won using only his “innate understanding”, and without the benefit of the knowledge of boxing mechanics? Could he have become heavyweight champion of the world with his “innate understanding”, could he have even won one pro fight? Was he born with the ability to move his head and slip punches well, and was all that Alive work on a maze ball a waste of time? I think the answer is very obvious.

Back to the point, I think you already understand just how valuable and necessary the delivery system that is found in BJJ is to understanding the ground game. Did Paul Vunak have an “innate understanding” of the ground before he met Rickson, like the amazing wolverine on the discovery channel? I think Paul has one now, and I think that’s because he did what you have done. He wrestled hundreds of hours against an Alive opponent, developing a functional delivery system, for the body mechanics and hip movement required on the ground. That is the ONLY way you can develop the game of a hard earned blue belt. So I know you have it. But remember this. Put everyone’s SBG, JKDU, and PFS together and we still make up less than 4 or 5% of the people who consider themselves JKD’rs. I have travelled all over the world and to all kinds of different JKD schools, and believe me when I tell you that most people in the world are still practicing the lock flows, and nonsense that Burton mentioned in his post. They have no real functional concept of the delivery system, or positions of BJJ. It’s sad but true. That is why FatBuddha’s post was a good point. Why do MANY JKDr’s still not do BJJ? -Matt Thornton

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Subject: we are in agreement

From: smartmonkey, Date: 18-Jan-02 | 04:14 PM

We almost agree 100% now. My only distinction would be that I don’t consider anyone truly ‘familiar’ with any range until they have developed a game at that range. To do that you need that delivery system.

If you are not familiar with the necktie, body lock, underhook, overhook, knee, elbow, uppercut, etc, then you are not really familiar with the clinch. If you are not familiar with the body mechanics and positions of BJJ (or any art using that delivery system) then I do not believe you are really familiar on the ground. That is not something that can be gained in a two day workshop, or a ten hour private session, or a seminar. It takes a few years. But then again, as I previously stated, we have high standards at the SBG.

The reason I liked FatBuddha’s post is because outside that happy 5% you mentioned, what he is saying needs to be heard.

When someone like FatBuddha says BJJ I automatically think in terms of “delivery system” as opposed to the “style” of BJJ. I think all JKD people would be better served thinking that way. I guess that’s because the people that we train with like Couture, Henderson, Munson, Machados, etc, are to me all of the same mindset, and essentially the same delivery system. When Rigan and Randy taught at our Camp last year they rolled together, and attended each other’s sessions with open eyes, and minds. I see the same thing at the Machado school. It’s filled with wrestlers, and GI people, etc. Everyone trains together. Everyone I know has this mindset. So when FatBuddha says BJJ I am thinking in that paradigm. Not in the terms of strict BJJ as a style.

What is that now anyway? Everyone crosstrains. Wrestlers do BJJ, BJJr’s do wrestling, etc.

But as soon as I travel I am reminded that we are still the minority and that’s why I found his post to be a good one when you are talking about the JKD world as a whole. Here is a funny story that falls right into this discussion.

About a year and a half ago I attended a JJ Machado no gi submission tourney in Southern Ca. While I was warming up one of our athletes a contingency of JKD’rs from a school in Southern Ca all showed up. They were very easy to spot as they all had matching sweat pants, and shirts, and wrestling shoes, etc. The JKD cliché wardrobe. Anyway, a few of them entered into the intermediate division, and I watched as one by one each one stepped on the mat, and each one lost within about a minute or less. I am sure these guys had a ton of lock flows, but the positional skill, hip movement, what I call the ‘delivery system’ was obviously absent. They had not been training Alive. As such they were incapable of defending themselves on that mat. They didn’t belong in the beginners division, let alone intermediate. Just as quickly as they came, they all left as a group. Not one win that I could see. Their coach had no idea what he was saying and didn’t seem to offer any helpful sideline advice as they fell victim to guillotines, flying armbars, and simple sweeps. I actually felt very bad for them. It made my heart sink a little because I am sure a few of them actually thought they had a chance, but they just were not prepared. The reason is, as simply put as possible, they had not done enough sparring on the mat. It’s exactly what Burton said.

Anyway, off to the gym. -Matt Thornton

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Do you think you can use gi techniques for the street?? I know you have to include the punches, kicks, head buts, and elbows when training for the street. At least I do, anyway. I think using gi techniques are useful because, in a street fight, there’s usually something to grab on to. What’s your opinion on that??

Thanks, Carl

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Hi Carl, yes I do, and in some ways I think GI is sometimes more functional in the street. Especially in the wintertime. I believe that a blood choke is the most effective, gentle, and humane way to end a fight. So yes, I think GI BJJ is great, and do plenty of it myself.

Take care -Matt Thornton

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Hey, I have a question about JKD. In some of your forums, you’ve commented on JKD. What do you think of Paul Vunak’s curriculum? I trained his curriculum for a while, and I am now accentuating it with some BJJ. I love the BJJ and I am doing this for self-preservation, not NHB. Do you see any shortcoming with PFSJKD? If so-I do have the option to train in Muay Thai or boxing, but I would be spreading myself thin. I am 30 years old and am in grad school so I am limited to 2x/week. If you recommend either boxing or mt-how long should I expect to do them? Again I expect to defend myself against the common nut and (hopefully) will never meet a Dan Henderson or Rico Chiapparelli on the street. I am currently maintaining (and love) Paul’s curriculum + BJJ. Your thoughts? P.S. thanks again for your past advice.


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Sounds like you are having a good time and that’s all that matters. I think Paul’s RAT curriculum is great. However, if you ever want to actually learn how to fight well on your feet you are going to have to get in with someone who is trying to knock you out, and spar. Nobody, not Paul, or me, or anyone else, can do that for you. There is no other way. Until you do that, you will never truly know in your heart what you are, and are not capable off, and in terms of “self preservation” that’s vital information. Once you have done that awhile you can back off and train lighter. However, until you do that, you are to a degree, fooling yourself. As you do not yet, “know”. Nosce Te Ipsum.

Who you train with, who they are certified by, etc. . .does not matter. What does matter is the level of intensity, contact, and athleticism that you become accustomed to operating under during training, and pressure.

ps: Putting a motorcycle helmet on someone and beating the shit out of them is NOT sparring. When both parties are wearing a helmet and attempting to beat the shit out of each other, it becomes sparring. -Matt Thornton

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Hi Matt:

I have just finished watching your second video series. Excellent videos. I could go on all day complementing them, but I am really writing to ask a quick question. Unfortunately the MA school I attend does not always use aliveness (which you define so well in your videos and web site) as its guiding principle . People will often defend training methods were aliveness is not a factor. During a discussion about training methods someone said to me “What about boxers hitting the heavy bag, and speed bag there is no aliveness there, So hitting the bags is a waste of time hu. Hitting the speed bag doesn’t look anything like fighting so that must be a waste of time too hu..” I replied that the heavy bag was good for things like body mechanics, and could be a great workout in itself. The only response was “well if there’s no aliveness how can it be any good, hu…” Anyway just wondering if you had ever fielded a comment like this? Perhaps the answer is that people will always find some semantic nonsense to prove their point no matter how clear the truth seems to be, and that this kind of talk is better preparation for a debate than for the ring.

Thanks -Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

You are correct. People will defend their beliefs because they are feeling defensive, because what I said is true. Sadly, those people are usually beyond help anyway. Their reasons and motives for training do not revolve around performance, the way an athlete’s motives will. Therefore it’s a different, and in many ways dysfunctional, paradigm they are trapped in. Accumulation, certification, and false pride.

In regards to a heavy bag, you can make heavy bag training more “Alive” by moving around, and not using repeated patterns like a robot. However, there are many things we may do that improve are bodies that are not “Alive”. It’s just that ALL of those things fall under the category of CONDITIONING. Lifting weights is not Alive, but it will have a direct impact on your body. Where Aliveness comes in is when you include a partner. BJJ is a great example. You could roll around with a stuffed dummy on the mat, and practice knee ride, punches, etc. This would be very similar to a boxer hitting the heavy bag. However, if you never, or rarely wrestle “Live” against a fully resisting opponent, you will always and forever suck. You would never be able to compete or reach the performance level of even a beginner blue belt. You must have aliveness, its as simple as that, that’s where timing and ability in BJJ come from. As it is in BJJ it is in stand up and clinch. Focus mitts don’t teach you to box, boxing does, etc.

Hope that’s clear? Take care and tell me how it goes. -Matt Thornton

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Dear Matt:

Great work. One quick question: What is your opinion on, when punching the “hands should move before the feet”, so as to make it as non-telegraphic as possible? This is not the case in western boxing, is it? In your vast experience does this compromise power and is it a good idea?

Thank you. Aiman

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Try it in sparring, and then base your belief on your personal experience, and not what I, or any “Sifu” says.

In regards to boxing, try telling Roy Jones Jr, Tyson, or Sugar Ray that there was a better way to punch someone hard and fast. They make millions, they would be interested in the concept.

Take care and have a safe and happy holiday -Matt Thornton

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I have been boxing for about 3 years and a little while ago I started reading martial arts magazines….BIG, BIG MISTAKE…..especially since I spent all last night reading everything on your site…. I just did not realize that the so called martial arts community was in such a mess. I used to think that I had fallen behind because I did not involve myself in that community (hence my last question on “hands move before feet.”)…no is actually the other way around…Thank God I stayed away. I guess it is the same in every field …performance/experience is the real key. -Aiman

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