The Straight Blast Gym is the name of a now international family of affliated martial arts training facilities under the direction and guidance of its founder, Matt Thornton. A student of Jeet Kune Do under Paul Vunak (who was himself a student of Dan Inosanto, arguably Bruce Lee's top student), Thornton began to realize that the training curriculum being used by most comercial JKD facilities was using 'dead' patterns and routines in their training of techniques. That is, the techniques were being drilled from a starting reference point, and they were done with a cooperative opponent who offered no resistance while the technique was practiced. Comparing this to the training regimens of long-established martial arts like boxing, wrestling, judo, muay thai, and Brazilian jujitsu, where all training was done against an uncooprerative, resisting opponent, he quickly saw that any of the so-called "sport" arts were more effective at training a fighter than an art which only teaches techniques without live sparring. And so, the Straight Blast Gym was born.

Adopting a curriculum drawing from western boxing, Muay thai kickboxing, Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling, Brazilian jujitsu, and jujitsu, the gym has coaches, not instructors. Thornton feels an instructor teaches knowledge but a coach improves performance, and SBG is all about performance. Indeed, the measure of a school should be how well its students perform. The proof is in the pudding.

Not giving up drills entirely, the gym does do drills which is a common misconception, many people believing all they do is full-on sparring. They train individual techniques, with one person practicing and one person resisting. It can look like sparring because the two fighters will begin rolling around quite a bit, but the point is that the one guy is only trying to get an armbar, and he can't try anything else. The resistor, on the other hand, can do pretty much anything he wants to prevent the armbar. With this kind of teaching it's easy to see how quickly one becomes competent at techniques.

SBG has stirred up a lot of controversy since its inception, mainly from practitioners of arts without live sparring. The reasons are almost always the same; that on the street they plan to bite and eye-gouge, and you can't practice that in sparring. To which Thornton retorts, if you're up against someone on the street who can grapple, and you can't grapple, do you really think biting and eye gouging is going to level the field, when he can also bite and gouge? Another common argument is 'We train for the street, that's training for sport.' This has become known as the "street Vs. Sport" argument, which implies that the non-sparring art is so destructive, so effective, that it cannot be practiced on anyone, ever, because of the risk of injury or death. Well the big question is, how will you know? The big factor of live training, other than a physically resisting opponent, is timing. To execute a move on a real opponent, you need a sense of timing, as well as conditioned reflexes to carry out the move right when you need to. Doing a form, kata or juru, practicing techniques on thin air does not teach timing. So unless the instructor is willing to show some live sparring with another competent fighter, you simply have to take their word that what they are teaching will work in a fight.

(Incidentally, the gym is named after the straight blast, the name Bruce Lee gave to the JKD version of wing chun chain punching, which is a cam-like spinning flurry of hand-over-hand punches. Lee was clocked at throwing 120 punches in ten seconds this way.)

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