Matt Thornton

Coach to some of the world's greatest Mixed Martial Arts fighters

We believe sport provides a learning environment for leadership and life, and so we interview Great Sports Coaches from around the world to find ideas to help us all be better people.

Our newsletter provides the best ideas from those interviews.

We hope you find one or two ideas that you can share with your family, friends, and teams.

Latest Interview

Matt is a Brazilian Ju Jitsu coach, who has coached some of the greatest Mixed Martial Arts fighters in the world. He is the founder of the Straight Blast Gym, where he has developed cross training in several martial arts as well as boxing and wrestling.  The gym now has over 50 affiliate academies located around the world.  Fighters he has coached include Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, and Dan Henderson while he has also helped develop the careers of coaches like John Kavanagh and Karl Tanswell. He is also a guest lecturer on philosophy and has recently published a book called The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World.

In this philosophical and insightful interview some of the highlights for me were:

  • His core philosophy of Aliveness, which emphasizes training on timing, energy, and motion through competing to deliver repeated experiments.

  • The idea that you can't acquire meaningful skill in Brazilian Ju Jitsu without submitting 1000’s of times. And through this approach to testing and learning through failure you achieve progress

  •  And his belief that frustration in the moment is almost always a useless emotion. So, you run into a problem in a fight, or you run into a problem in a match. That's something that we're here to solve. That's a puzzle that will admit to a solution.”

Listen here on… Apple | Spotify  | Google


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Leadership Insights

Ricky Stuart speaks reflectively about fostering a sense of care and a feeling of belonging with his athletes. He believes that everyone's got some type of leadership in them.

We have >1200 insights across many other Leadership topics like setting up new team cultures, establishing team values or helping people with their inner voice. They are indexed, searchable and can be downloaded to share.

Some of them are free but others require a one-time purchase or subscription.

Leadership Skills

This episode is on the topic of Behaviours, and it features audio quotes from 13 coaches that we have interviewed on the podcast.

The key points are:

  • Behaviour’s are discussed more frequently by Great Coaches than team culture and values.

  • Head Coaches observe the behaviours of their teams and athletes and bring a no-compromise mindset to then challenging the athlete where expectations are not met.

  • When the group agrees on the required behaviours it unites the team and leads to sustained performance.

  • The leader must role model the required behaviours and be aware that what they choose to walk past becomes the new standard.


If you enjoy a sporting fairytale, you will love this short audio article on how English soccer team Luton Town went from the 5th tier of the competition all the way to the Premier League. Its a feel-good story that proves yet again that sometimes underdogs triumph against the odds.


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