Company: Straight Blast Gym Productions
Tape Name: The Clinch
Tape Cost: $ 49.95 for 1 or 2 tapes,$39.95 for 3 to five tapes
Length of Tape/Time: 90 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 Artist: 10
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:

For a general review of the set of three tapes and the reviewers feelings regarding Matt Thornton's abilities as both a martial artist and a teacher, please read the review of tape one "Aliveness". Tape two deals with the second phase of the standing game, i.e. from where kicking and punching range stops and up to and including takedowns.

The tape starts off with a revision of basic concepts, or rather the underlying concept, aliveness. Aliveness is broken down into energy, timing and motion. Without these core elements a drill or practice method is not alive and therefore of limited usefulness. Matt then brings in Randy Couture as a kind of "guest lecturer". Yet another refreshing thing about Matt Thornton is that he has no ego problems in handing over the floor to someone who is clearly a world-class specialist in the field.

Speaking of ego, Matt Thornton has also evolved a kind of training philosophy that fits together well with the actual training. Have you ever noticed how, in a boxing gym or on the wrestling mat there is a minimum of "I'm the greatest" type of posturing ? Everyone knows where they stand, as far as abilities are concerned. Everything is in the open, everyone has their good and bad days, everyone gets hit or has to tap out as part of the learning process. The students see themselves and are seen and treated as athletes and individuals and the task of the coach is to help them be the best they can be. This seems a far healthier approach than the "I'm the master, you must obey me, I'm here to spoonfeed you" approach.

The main energy drill used at the Straight Blast Gym is the "pummel", i.e. achieving control and then exploiting it correctly at clinch-range. Elements of this are the control tie-up, attached and unattached striking, takedowns, and throws. Again, a fair amount of fight footage is used to illustrate the concepts and techniques that are being shown. Matt Thornton makes the point that, even if you do not wish to be a throwing or groundfighting specialist, the best preparation for avoiding such attacks is to have some knowledge of them. Once again, a superb tape and a definite must-see. In the last few minutes of the tape the viewer gets some rare insight into Matt Thornton the man, when one finds out that he's quite an animal lover ! (No, sorry, you'll have to watch the tape to catch that one !!)


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