Black Belt Explains What Receiving His Fifth Degree Means To Him

Black Belt Explains What Receiving His Fifth Degree Means To Him

Matt Thornton is a highly respected BJJ instructor and founder of Straight Blast Gym International, an association of over 35 gyms worldwide engaged in training athletes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and mixed martial arts. He was among the first American-born practitioners to receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Thornton was recently awarded the fifth degree on his black belt by his instructor Chris Haueter and wanted to share what it meant to him:

Five stripes, now.

What does that mean?

I received my black belt in 2001 from my coach, Chris Haueter. So it means I’ve been a black belt for 20 years now. And it took me 11 years to get my black belt. So it means I have over 30 years of Jiu-Jitsu training.

It means I’m just starting to get a handle on how this art works. And I’m beginning to scratch the surface on the fundamentals. But just barely.

It means I have about 25 years of teaching full time. And it means I haven’t had a boss, or anything I’d even call “work,” for 25 years.

It means I’ve been able to travel all over the planet, thanks to Jiu-Jitsu. And it means I’ve been blessed to meet thousands of amazing humans, thanks to Jiu-Jitsu.

It means I’ve had a 25 year relationship with one coach. And it means he’s seen me through two marriages, five kids, ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad. And has the ability to impart meaningful information in a few short words – because of that relationship.

It means a lot of things I’m extremely grateful for. And even more I’m unable to articulate.
It means I’m old.

And it means I’m just getting started. And so are we, SBG.

Per aspera ad astra. 🦍