Matt Thornton: Beyond JKD

Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

April 18th, 2018, 12:31 pm #1

Just came across this series of videos. Very interesting.

Matt Thornton talks about his own martial arts journey from boxing and JKD, to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and creating his own school known as the Straight Blast Gym which has become very influential in MMA. Thornton discusses his inspiration from Bruce Lee, training and teaching JKD with former Bruce Lee and Inosanto students, discovering BJJ and training with Rickson Gracie, and then eventually becoming disillusioned with JKD.

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

April 20th, 2018, 4:45 pm #2

Good post but your conclusion is actually a bit off base. Thornton did not become disillusioned with JKD but with the way people were practicing it. He was and is still a fan of the JKD 'way', "absorb what is useful", and so on. He instituted a test of his practice incorporating the idea of 'aliveness' (energy, timing and motion), the understanding of the delivery system of a method (what makes it 'work') and he concept of 'performance-based' training.

JKD had become more and more of a static-based system, concentrating on mimicking the external aspects of what BL did on screen. We know know that most if not all of what he did on screen was, like Italian fencing in the movies, "screen fighting" something that is cinematically exciting but not based on actual 'unscripted' fighting.

In one of the set of DVDs that Guro Dan put out after the UFC started we see Dan and Erik Paulson doing static ground moves which were not ''flow" but a 'collection of tricks' (typical JJJ before BJJ became prominent), and surprisingly, Paulson knew better having already competed in cage matches.

FWIW.
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

April 21st, 2018, 12:33 pm #3

You're right. I was actually going to change my wording, but couldn't edit my comment after I posted it. 

Thornton got disillusioned with what JKD [i]became[b][/b][/i], when Inosanto started introducing Kali and Pencak Silat, and the emphasis on static drills, chi sao, and the lack of ground work, etc. Instead of staying focused on the truth in fighting (what actually works), JKD Concepts ended up adding more and more techniques. Original JKD on the other hand, never added anything since the 1960s.

But there are sometimes in the videos where it seems Thornton went from thinking JKD was the greatest to thinking BJJ is the greatest. On that whiteboard ladder of effective styles he puts wrestling, BJJ, Muay Thai, and boxing at the top, and puts JKD underneath those. He says JKD became like a religion. So at times it sounds like he was disillusioned with not just the people practicing JKD, but JKD itself, which he implied was one of what he called "fantasy arts".

So it's not exactly clear where he stands on JKD itself. He doesn't call what he teaches JKD, and his the students all wear BJJ gi's. I assume therefore it's a combination of BJJ, boxing, and Muay Thai. Which is essentially what modern MMA is.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

May 9th, 2018, 5:08 pm #4

IMO the value of "JKD" is the method of thinking, not the actual practice. If you follow the way of thinking, that is what is effective, what is useful to the specific individual, what is non-static, non-patterned, your skills will rise the right way.

But, so many of the JKD people idolize BL and are taken off the true path by trying to be 'like him' despite what he said not to do, when he said 'my technique may not be your technique'.
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Joined: July 25th, 2015, 1:24 pm

July 21st, 2018, 12:06 pm #5

when people call Bruce a movie actor, why dont they call him just an MA instructor ? he was an instructor for as long or longer than he was acting 
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

July 21st, 2018, 1:30 pm #6

I don't think those calling him a 'movie actor' are showing more insight, I think they're showing less. A true analysis of his skills is hard to do unless you have a pretty extensive background in both martial arts and movie making. Even with the visual demonstrations nobody has come close to what he did on screen, not real martial artists, not stuntmen, not movie actors. One of the closest ones, strangely enough was Evan Kim in the parody movie.
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Joined: July 25th, 2015, 1:24 pm

July 21st, 2018, 4:30 pm #7

[quote="badger01j"]
I don't think those calling him a 'movie actor' are showing more insight, I think they're showing less. A true analysis of his skills is hard to do unless you have a pretty extensive background in both martial arts and movie making. Even with the visual demonstrations nobody has come close to what he did on screen, not real martial artists, not stuntmen, not movie actors. One of the closest ones, strangely enough was Evan Kim in the parody movie.
[/quote]

I could not find any clips of him online, you have any links , Evan Kim
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Joined: January 24th, 2018, 5:04 am

July 21st, 2018, 4:50 pm #8

The whole parody with Evan in it:

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Joined: July 25th, 2015, 1:24 pm

July 21st, 2018, 5:59 pm #9

your original post was interesting but i am not sure what you mean when you compare this guys moves to Bruce lees in movies. I don't except most to compare with Bruce in terms of speed and explosiveness but even anything does not compare. Jet Li is probably a better comparison. Thx for the post by the way .
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

July 21st, 2018, 7:51 pm #10

For example here are two things that BL did in his movie making that we now have seen so much of that it's going the other way.

1. He realized that the best fight scenes are relatively brief, you do a few explosive and even startling moves and the good guy takes out the bad guy quickly. There are really no long drawn out 'block and parry, block and parry' scenes. If the good guy really -is- good, why would he need to fight the BG for a long time. Now this is the way Hong Kong fans like it, they were disappointed to some degree that the fights were quick and decisive. But American audiences, used to the Hong Kong long drawn out scenes were actually electrified to see the way BL did it.

2. He used superior camera angles and a team of great and seasoned stunt men to help sell his fights scenes. In fact I think Bob Wall deserves at least half the credit for how good the scene in front of Han was, due to his excellent reaction shots. 

Now we have to be aware that BL did not have fight choreography control in all of his movies. I think the BB had some of his innovations but there were some that were not his and he had to wait for recognition to get more control.

Now days we don't have this, we have 'shaky cam' and jump cuts to the point where you can't even see what is going on.

To get an idea, if you look at the movie that Joe Lewis did the camera angles are terrible and they actually make Joe look plodding and not too sharp. He was very good and they should have been able to make a superior movie, but thy just didn't know how to film it.

Billy Jack had some good camera angles and I like the way they mixed slow motion with some of the good moves that Bong Soo Han had done.

So besides having a lot of good input and deep understanding on how to fight and how to move and so forth, we have these very innovative filming aspects which people have accepted and not realized how much a difference it made and how much he was ahead of his time. Bear in mind he was not 'successful' at the time but he still had the courage to break the mold and innovate and do risky things. 

One other thing he did that did catch on a little was to bring in American actors and to give contrast to the fights.
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