Movement Training for Humans
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Aliveness and the Value of Opposition with Matt Thornton: EMP Podcast 44
Jump To

Aliveness and the Value of Opposition with Matt Thornton: EMP Podcast 44

Listen to the EMP Podcast on the go with iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher!! Don’t forget to subscribe, comment and give us a 5-star rating!


00:00 – Intro
04:42 – The Answer Seeking Method
09:08 – Constraint Led Approach
18:27 – Opponent Processing
24:39 – Taking the Gloves Off
34:48 – Growing in the Practice
52:35 – The Importance of Fundamentals
01:03:22 – Alive Isolation
01:09:21 – Aliveness Based Drills
01:21:29 – Facilitating the Fight
01:41:31 – Identifying the Fundamentals
01:51:45 – Movement and Martial Arts
01:54:37 – Outro

Aliveness and the Value of Opposition with Matt Thornton: EMP Podcast 44

It is of no benefit to any person, or any system, to exist within an echo chamber. 

We are shaped and molded by the things that challenge us and if we’re hoping to achieve a high level of skill in movement or in life, the most valuable process we can engage in is to test those skills against oppositional forces. We have to put our efforts under fire and see what works and what doesn’t time and time again.

Our guest today, Matt Thornton, calls this the opponent process and it’s a vital element to the growth of any system, ranging from marketing to martial arts.

The fact is we can’t succeed at everything all of the time; failure has to happen on a regular basis for us to learn most effectively, so this testing process requires that we have a tight grip on the reins of our ego.

If we forego that opponent processing, we lose a fundamental source of information about the quality of our practice which can set us up for catastrophic failure down the line. Imagine how if we avoid falling for our entire lives, we never learn how to engage with the ground and protect ourselves from falls…

We don’t develop the systems in our body that react effectively to losing our balance and controlling our position or momentum as we meet the ground…

We don’t physically strengthen the tissues and joints that will be impacted and we don’t develop confidence or relaxation around falling…

It may not bite us for years until we’re pushing sixty and take a bad step off of a curb, at which point reality acts swiftly and impersonally to expose the flaws in our game.

Yet if we practiced BJJ every week, where we get to roll on the ground in every conceivable position, where people will be actively trying to topple us over day after day… Each time we get taken down we learn a little bit about what it means to fall and each time we avoid getting taken down we learn a little about how to stay on our feet.

This element of training comes out naturally when you train with aliveness. If you’re applying your agility to ladders and cones, who’s to say whether you can cut angles and accelerate away from your opponent? The ladder won’t tag or tackle you.

But when you need to get past a resisting opponent to get to the hoop, or if you have to escape someone using your kong vault and a stride sequence, you’re getting real, instant feedback about the quality of your skills.

On today’s podcast we’re going to dive into aliveness and the value of opposition with our good friend Matt Thornton, founder of Straight Blast Gym in Portland, OR.

We are going to talk at length about how these principles and others are being applied in his schools to create a truly effective and sustainable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice for his students, as well as how any practitioner of any art can identify the fundamentals of their practice and train in a more alive manner.

We really enjoyed having Matt on, this conversation probably could have gone on for another couple of hours. He’s the one that originally turned us on to the idea of aliveness years ago and we can’t wait to chat and work with him more, so expect more episodes with him in the future.

Related Content:

[Nassim Taleb, Strength and Uncertainty with Erich Lin: EMP Podcast 43]
[Aliveness and the Universal Athletic Human Blueprint: EMP Podcast 41]
[Constraint Led Coaching with James Smith: EMP Podcast 40]


If you would like to support us at Evolve Move Play, don’t forget to like, share, comment and rate our content. 

You can also hit the link below to become a patron.


Make The Leap! Become an EMP Insider

Get our best tips and strategies in your inbox to keep you moving plus get notified about special offers and events sent only to our subscribers.