Company: Straight Blast Gym Productions
Tape Name: Aliveness
Tape Cost: $ 49.95 for 1 or 2 tapes,$39.95 for 3 to five tapes
Length of Tape/Time: 1 hour 56 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: Concept tape,but many techniques and drills shown to illustrate concepts
Return Policy:
Experiences in dealing with this company: Excellent
The Instructor: Matt Thornton
Address: 1812 Ne 43rd Ave Portland Oregon 97213
Company's Phone Number: 503-230-79248
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

1. Production/Tape Quality: 10
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 10
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding 10:
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist10:
5. Score on delivery vs. hype: 10
6. Degree to which we'd recommend this product:10
7. Wasted Time (The higher the number, the less "fluff"/repetition): 9
8. Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again: 9
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 10
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 10

Grand Total: 98% (Excellent = 4.5 stars)

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Excellent
2. Intermediate benefit: Excellent
3. Advanced benefit: Excellent
4. Time to benefit: Immediate
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: Can stand on it's own, but should be seen as a set

Written Summary:

If your art originated in a temple in the mystic East, if it has been practiced secretly and unaltered for hundreds of years, mostly in the form of kata, and if you believe that is the ultimate in producing fighting ability, DO NOT buy these tapes. Everything Matt Thornton says will sound like Mandarin Chinese and the parts you do understand will irritate the living daylights out of you. Instead buy some tapes on the deadly pressure point strikes hidden in your forms.

For the rest of you out there, if you buy only one set of videos this year, let these be the ones. If you believe that there has been an evolutionary development in the martial arts over the last few decades, from Bruce Lee to the Gracies to the all-round fighters of today ( such as Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, Maurice Smith, Mark Kerr etc. ) then you will want to see these tapes.You may never be half the fighter any of the above are - to us mere mortals their ability is scary - but if you follow these concepts and ideas, if you consistently implement them in your training, you will end up being as good a fighter as you can conceivably be. There are a handful of video instructors out there on the cutting edge of martial arts developments ( Tony Blauer, Eric Knauss, Matt Furey and one or two others would be my choices ) and Matt Thornton is definitely in there. So even if you have to sell your body to medical science or your sister to an Arab oil sheik, buy these tapes ( no, I've never met Matt Thornton, he hasn't offered me any money, nor has he threatened me ).

As to the content : The tapes should really be seen as a set, since tape one introduces the fundamental concept of "aliveness", which is then also further explored in its application to the clinch and to groundfighting in tapes two and three. Tape one also covers in some detail the stand-up fighting range, or "game", as Matt would call it. To summarize aliveness : Real combat is chaotic, if your training is not alive, the discrepancy between it and what might happen on the street will be such that a lengthy hospital stay is nearly guaranteed.

Many examples of alive vs. dead drills are given. Matt uses some humourous examples to make his point , such as a game of chess and a baseball swing training session. If these don't get you smiling, you're definitely practicing a secret temple art.

The second part of tape one deals with the basic stand-up fighting game, i.e. punching, kicking with and without shoes, the sraight blast, the sprawl and a variety of other technical options. The only slight criticism one might make, and even that is very much a matter of opinion, is that the tapes could have been edited a little more strictly. The tapes were put together quite artistically, interspersed with interviews, humour, fight footage and some really weird and interesting music. I like the result, but there may be those that will have wanted something slightly tighter.

Two other minor disagreements: According to Matt the primary street attack is a tackle. In over four years of nightclub work as a bouncer here, in the harbour area of Cape Town, South Africa, I have found the primary form of attack to be the wild, swinging haymaker, followed perhaps by the broken beer bottle.Whatever U.S. police statistics and Rorion Gracie might say, I never found the "95 percent of all fights go to the ground" rule to hold true. Obviously even ten percent is enough to make the study of ground fighting obligatory, and it is perhaps a minor point. Maybe I've just read one Rorion Gracie column to many.

Also, although one or two women can be seen, this is clearly not an approach that will find much favour with most women or children. In some ways a real pity, since most women's self defense either ignores groundfighting or practices it in a one-two-three technical manner. Anyway, these are all minor points brought up by a reviewer who would otherwise feel too embarassed by just going on and on in absolute admiration. Buy these videos NOW!


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