began his Martial Arts career with boxing. After serving in
the US Army Matt returned to the USA and began training in
JKD in 1988. In 1990 Matt moved to Portland where he managed,
and taught at a Gym for a little over two Years where the
focus was JKDC, alongside one of Mr. Inosanto's Instructors.
During that time Matt was exposed to a multitude of JKD Instructors
including Burton Richardson, who would go on to become a friend,
Dan Inosanto, and many others.
In 1991 he had the privilege of meeting and training with
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie. It was the meeting,
where Matt reports:
"I watched Rickson wrestle a room of Judo black belts.
He tapped them all out within seconds, without using his
hands, and I knew this is for me!"
It was from that meeting that Matt discovered the need to
place the emphasis on self-discovery through Aliveness. It
was more from his boxing and initial introduction to BJJ (Rickson)
which physically challenged all the mental constructs and
concepts that were being shown to him as physical possibilities
for fighting, then his involvement with JKD that shaped the
ideology of Aliveness. From there it just continued to flourish
through personal experiences field testing everything others
had taken for granted would work.
SBG was doing MMA before the term MMA even existed.
His training methods, focus, and philosophy were headed in
a completely different direction from where that school was,
so he eventually opened the first Gym in which he had complete
control in Salem Oregon around 1993. A few Years later Matt
met Randy Couture, who would come in to work on stand up,
and BJJ groundwork. Those sessions completely changed the
way the SBG trained "trapping", or more aptly put
The SBG had always taught a strong boxing base at their facilities,
and in addition BJJ had become a HUGE part of the curriculum
from the start, now they had the full package. Matt and the
SBG introduced the proper clinch as taken from Greco to the
Martial Arts world at large, at a time when most JKD schools
where still teaching chi-sau and hubud, and before most MMA
fighters had the clinch training which is currently now the
Rickson Gracie awarded Matt his blue belt in 1993. In 1995
Matt was awarded a purple belt through the Machado brothers,
and Chris Haueter. In 2000 he was awarded his brown belt,
and in 2002 he became one of the few Americans to be awarded
a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And the first BJJ black
belt ever in the State of Oregon.
began doing seminars in 1995 at the request of the USA's first
Savate Instructor, Daniel Duby, who asked if he would fly
to his Island of Reunion to teach a series of seminars. Daniel
provided the Savate influence they have at the Gym, and also
became a great friend of the SBG. Since that time Matt has
given well over two hundred seminars and traveled all over
the world to spread the message of Aliveness, the curriculum
of the SBG, and the beauty and Art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Matt has taught in Africa, France, the UK, Denmark, Ireland,
Reunion Island, the Seychelles, Iceland, all across the USA,
to name just a few.
It has been this travel, teaching, training, and process
of self-discovery that has shaped Matt's philosophy on what
training 'healthy' in the Martial Arts is all about.
In 1998 Matt's first video series titled "Functional
JKD" was released, and featured tape #1 Aliveness. This
tape, and the firestorm that followed, sparked a revolution
within Martial Arts, and sold all over the world. His second
series became one of the top selling, and best reviewed instructional
sets of all time.
SBG became SBGi, SBG international. And at present time has
Gym's and training groups in well over 50 locations around
the globe. The curriculum has continued to evolve with the
CM boxing system, non attribute based training, the ISR law
enforcement program, the "I" method, the STAB program,
and many, many other innovations, which have propelled SBGi
to the forefront of cutting edge Martial Arts training for
all types of needs, and applications.It's been a long journey,
but Matt Thornton and SBGi have clearly shown themselves to
be a major force of innovation within the history of Martial
Matt still teaches weekly classes himself at the Portland
Branch of Straight Blast Gym. Where he can be found on the
mat, having a blast, alongside other athletes of all levels.