2014 SBGi’s Most Successful Year Ever

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portland boxing gym

2014 Year in Review!

This is SBG – you will be okay

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“SBG is many things.

A Tribe.
A corporation.
A set of academies.
An ideal.

It is the Muhammad Ali of MMA – as in McGregor.

 

And it is a 55 year old woman who will, for the first time in her life, compete in a sporting event under our gorilla banner.

It is large professional spaces – as in Oregon, Ireland, Montana, the UK, Massachusetts, (to name but a few.)

And it is also small, more personal communities.

 

Jason runs the later.

I saw children finding guidance.

I saw young adults finding mentors.
I saw athletes finding insight.

 

boxing gyms portlandYou don’t need to be large to be 

exceptional – you just have to get it right.

How do I know?

I’ve been to Jason’s in Toronto.

This is SBG” 

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That quote was from Matt Thornton after his last visit to Toronto.
Outside of the major coaches in the association there are only a few students that get to visit the different academies.
It’s on those visits that it really sinks in, there is a worldwide community in SBGi.  All over the world there are people working and training under the same banner with shared values, groups of people that “get it right”. Including our new academies.

2014 SBGi added new academies in Seattle WA, Elko NV, Idaho, and Ireland!

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From Head Coach Matt Thornton-

“My mission statement for my 2013 seminars and classes was to create Jiu-Jitsu scientists, and I think I was able to achieve that. This year, 2014, we’re going to take it to a whole new level.

I’m not not going to just be teaching you WHAT to do, which is the simplest and shallowest level, or HOW it works, which is a deeper and necessary step if you want to truly understand Jiu-Jitsu; we’re going a level farther, we’re taking it down to the core, I’m going to be teaching WHY Jiu-Jutsu, when done properly, works. The true science of Jiu-Jitsu.

We’re going to boil it down to its core essentials, using Einstein’s principle:

As Simple As Possible – But No Simpler.

I’m going to make sure that when I am done, everyone is going to have been given a look into the heart and soul of Jiu-Jitsu, in a way they never have before.

Just as I picked spider guard as my position to distill to its center last year, this year I’ll be focused on:

Butterfly Guard

(Emphasis on one key principle which defines its effectiveness as a guard)

Defense and Survival

(you’ve heard of Coach Priit’s “grilled chicken”, or grilledkana guard; this too will change how you play your game, the “chilled chicken”, or chillkana, will have you thinking about escaping in a whole new way.

Guard Passing

(Focus will be on just two key principles, posture & angle. I’ll also be introducing the concept of “ghost passing” – my goal is to simplify the way everyone looks at passing the guard)

Of course there is always more. But these three sections will form the core of my 2014 schedule. All taught with the main objective of my 2014 mission statement:

As Simple As Possible – But No Simpler.”

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@aliveness_ape: Responsibility is inseparable from respect. Education is inseparable from freedom. And intelligence is inseparable from power.

Each year Matt tours as many of the SBGi’s as he can to not only coach but to spend time in these communities helping to ensure that our motto “One Tribe, One Vibe” stays authentic

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Visiting academies in Berkeley, CA, SBG Seattle,  SBG Montana,  Reno, NV,  Toronto CA,  Wareham MA, Hermiston OR, and Niagara Falls CA, and that’s just naming a few!
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When running and organization like SBGi, writing a book, running a business, coaching athletes, and raising a family – time quickly becomes your most valuable commodity. This is exactly why Matt does his best to tour the academies overseas in tours rather than individual visits.
 
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His seminar tours allow him to visit as many of the academies as possible in the little time that he the has.
This year his seminar tours included Ireland, UK, and Chile, visiting the existing SBGi’s and some new ones.
Glyn Powditch-
“Grilled chicken and butterfly guard posture from Matt Thornton seminar. Everyone’s guard looked like it had jumped a belt level!”
boxing in portland

After returning from Ireland…

“What a trip. More than thirteen years ago I watched a young Irish guy walk to the cage by himself, carrying his own bucket, in South Africa. It didn’t take a genius to see that he was different. Six years later, more than seven years ago today, I was proud to recognize him as a black belt in BJJ.
 
Two weeks from now, he will be the first coach in history to take four fighters into the UFC on the same night – that he has coached from day one (white belts) – to now (future world champions)
 
His facility is phenomenal (I’ve never seen better), his philosophy is spot on (important as that’s what creates the environment) and success is inevitable.
 
This trip was special because I was able to bring my son, Liam Thornton. He kept commenting on the demeanor of the people we met. I’ve traveled all over the world, but, I never run into people as friendly, clever and fun to be around as the Irish. What other nation could have produced both Oscar Wilde and James Joyce? Now he’s headed for a week with uncle Karl, and we know that will be epic.
 
Thanks so much to John, Stephen, Damian, and everyone else who came to my classes. It is always a privilege to be able to teach the art of fighting in this country.
 
SBGi, it’s our time.” –Matt Thornton

 From John Kavanagh:

“My coach’s annual visit fantastic success with 14 new blue belts and new brown belt. Bjj team won a bunch of gold medals down in cork and Frans Mlambo wins pro k1 fight on big show Saturday night. 

Solid weekend now heading back to Iceland to finish off prep for UFC. This is SBG, you will be ok.”

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 13 years and they have not aged a day ; )

 

@aliveness_ape:  Good Jiu-Jitsu grips have nothing to do with holding on tighter, and

everything to do with letting go sooner.

Coach Karl Tanswell – on smart training.

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Strong Fundamentals and great coaching has taken SBG to where it is today. Now more then ever SBG is being noticed for it’s values, success and the fun that we have along the way.  The host of the BJJ Brick Podcast have noticed our success and started interviewing SBG coaches.
They started with Massachusets coach Stephen Whittier in May. -Click Here
In October they contacted head coach Matt Thornton. -Click Here
As word traveled of the now fastest from white to black student in the organization they invited Amanda Diggins in November. -Click Here
And most recently John Kavanagh this December. -Click Here
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From BJJ Brick Podcast  “They’re fun people. I mean they’re killers on the mat. They’re very technical, very knowledgeable, very successful, but they do they have fun!”

Building Safer Training Methods,

The movement towards longevity

With the scientific evidence behind the effects of taking blows to the head there has been a movement organization wide to help minimize these effects while still training effectively.
As coach Kavanagh put it – “The goal of the fighters journey is to come out the other side with minimum brain damage & maximum personal growth”
Kavanagh talks about the up and coming Safe MMA seminar
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The topic has even gotten to the point of being an issue for the UFC, with blow back from retired fighters. Adam Singer made a good point on a recent podcast covering the subject of MMA training, stating that the fighters knew the risk when going in to the sport.
Although the sport of MMA can be quite brutal – the quest for keeping things realistic while simultaneously minimizing the trauma has become an organization wide effort. In the meantime there is a shelf life for our stand up training, as you can only be hit in the head so much. The lack of shelf life also seems to be, in part, what makes grappling so appealing.
Longevity in the arts that you love demands a certain respect for your body. Keeping yourself to a certain standard of fitness to prevent injury, and preventing injury, with appropriate training methods – like avoiding concussions – is a must for anything outside of a short term benefit.
@aliveness_ape: Jiu Jitsu teaches you so to see puzzles instead of roadblocks. And every puzzle – has a solution.
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“Emotions are contagious. It’s no good if I am on the mat and in a bad mood. You have to be a cultural engineer for your community” – Karl Tanswell

There are specific commonalities in SBGi’s

the coaching,

the people,

the results.

 Matt and the other top SBG coaches demand for authenticity, and sincerity, helps creates the  results in each SBGi.

 Producing phenomenal communities and top notch competitors.

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 @aliveness_ape: Good BJJ is everything Aikido pretends to be, yet as a consequence of the pretending can never achieve.

2014 SBGi’s Most Successful Year To Date

Straight Blast has been making headlines both on local and GLOBAL scales all year long. Here’s a short list cover just a few of the highlights

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John Frankl’s Super Fight

Showing us what smooth jiu jitsu looks like.

 SBG Montana  with a huge turnout and  success at the kids Pan Ams.

“The level competition at these larger, national events increases dramatically every year. Our kids competed well and we are looking forward to hitting the mats again to continue to improve and sharpen our skills”

Montana Pan Ams Article HERE.

SBG Montana Kids
Congrats to all the SBG Idaho and SBG Elko for tearing it up in NAGA Utah and the North West Submission Challenge!

 Too many medals to count!

NAGA
One of SBGi’s newer additions- SBGi Idaho joined SBGi Seattle, Kalispell, North (Whitefish), and of course Portland at the Oregon Open.

SBG Northwest takes the overall 1st place trophy in adult and kids. 1st place in adult no gi and 3rd in adult gi at the Oregon Open.

 
Oregon Open

Another new addition to the tribe SBG North in Whitefish had a booming grand opening and is now nearing triple digit membership after being open for less than four months!

SBG North’s head coach Hamilton Ash has been hot on the competition circuits taking double  GOLD in SIX out of SIX of his last competitions since SBG North’s Grand opening!

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“Tom King, Kavanagh’s first home grown black belt from SBG Ireland, takes gold in black belt at the IBJJF London.

 Huge achievement! Well done, Tom.”

– Matt Thornton

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Stephen Whittier as he prepares the Sityodtong fighter Robert Font  for his UFC bout.

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Jeff Perez from SBG Wareham wins his 5thMMA bout
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Matt Inman highlight treel – with multiple wins in mma, and jiu jitsu. 

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Amanda Loewen takes 2nd at Worlds – only a couple months after being promoted to Brown.

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“The year 2014 is coming to an end and looking back, it’s been quite a busy one.

As of now, I am still the reigning European champion, plus I also managed to snatch a couple of gold and silver medals from other parts of Europe. I won double gold in Estonian Submission Wrestling Championship and I was elected as “BJJ fighter Of The Year” by my training gym”– Mardo Mannimagi

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“Last night saw Straight Blast Gym’s very own ‘Queen of Irish MMA’,Aisling Daly, win her UFC debut. The event was part of the Ultimate Fighter finale, at the Palms in Las Vegas, and came on the back of months in the TUF house and an intense media tour.”

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“My technical sessions next week will focus on why Aisling Daly was successful with a less than solid armbar position and Charles Oliveira failed on a rock solid arm position. It’s the difference between understanding the difference between Fundementals v Basics.

Why the idea of Advanced techniques are an illusion.” -John Kavanagh

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Douglas and Stapleton take home wins from their December 6th BAMMA Fights! Click Here for the blog and fight videos!

Of course the largest success of the 2014 has to be SBG Coach John Kavanagh’s entry into the UFC with the athletes that are now some of the biggest names in the sport.  Kavanagh made world history at the UFC Fight Night in Dublin.
Not only did he have four fantastic competitors on one card (Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred, Gunnar Nelson, and of course Conor McGregor) AND – they all WON by K.O and Submission!
John Kavanagh – the first coach in history to ever have four athletes and four wins on one UFC card.
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Coaching, Community, Authenticity

Trademarks of SBGi

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The values of a community flows from it’s leadership. The tribe’s leaders are where that “vibe” comes from.

The coaches of SBGi have always understood this concept. Recently SBG Portland was criticized as “only bringing in other SBG coaches for seminars” as if it was a fault.  Granted there are plenty of phenomenal coaches worldwide who could bring great things to the gym, the sheer number of SBG coaches who have unique things to offer is overwhelming.

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Bringing SBG coaches alone to the Portland Academy has put us in a position of having a seminar nearly every month.  We were lucky enough to be visited by the likes of Priit Mihkelson, bringing us some of his grilled chicken, Stephen Whittier, bringing us a great passing game, and Muay Thai, Rory Singer, with some top notch fundamental boxing, and the list goes on.

The year of seminars kicked off with John Frankl coming to Portland all the way from Korea!

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Much thanks to John Frankl for a great weekend of training and socializing.A lot of BJJ coaches will talk about how important it is to shelf your attributes, how if you’re smart, you’ll care a lot more about learning Jiu-Jitsu than you do winning any match in the gym, how beneficial rolling as relaxed and technical as possible is for the development of your game; but then when it’s time to roll they still have rough, strength oriented, overly competitive style (and the accompanying injuries that go with that).
John doesn’t do that. He explains Jiu-Jitsu using science and reason (posture-pressure-principles), then practices what he preaches; rolling as smooth, relaxed, and technical as anyone I’ve ever seen. Rather than fighting harder during a roll, he lets go sooner. He knows where his opponents want him to go, let’s them think they are taking him there, then goes with it, leaving no weight or pressure to work off of, reappearing in a superior position, or finishing. It’s wizard Jiu-Jitsu. It is everything Aikidoka ‘pretend’ to be able to do, and as a consequence of the pretending, can never possibly achieve.
If you didn’t take his class, you missed out. He will be at the Montana SBG next weekend. Check it out.”
 Matt Thornton
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@aliveness_ape: What is the end game of reason?

Nothing less than this.

To act with a wisdom that is indistinguishable from compassion.

We were also lucky enough to have a living legend come to Portland, Fabio Santos.

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Matt received his first real lesson in Jiu Jitsu from Fabio Santos over two decades ago.  Little did Fabio know but this “giant” as Santos put it, would go on to not only launch a successful coaching career, but to launch the international phenomenon that is SBGi. Fabio taught a great seminar giving the students of Portland a true taste of old school self-defense based Jiu Jitsu (read more here http://sbgi-pdx.com/jiu-jitsu-legend-sbg-portland/).

krav maga vs bjj@aliveness_ape: Anyone can look amazing with the right demo partner. Anything can look functional when the done on them, cooperates with the doer to them.

Fabio Santos- talking about his first time meeting Matt.

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Camps are the breadth of material, the gathering of the chiefs, and the social setting of a truly global tribe.

 
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Straight blast has always put a heavy emphasis on the people that an SBG environment can gather. You can see it in anyacademy, the values of the head coach will snowball throughout the mat and become a defining factor in the culture.

This is true in the organization itself, and you never get a better chance to observe this then at Camp. A few times a year Matt organizes the biannual SBG Camps. Spring and Fall. These two events began as a reason/method to bring SBGi coaches together to talk about, work in, and evolve the SBGi curricula

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The camps this year were a huge success. Rich Beaupit was a wonderful host at this year’s Spring camp in Niagara. Spring camp hosted not only top coaches from the U.S. – it also brought in some the biggest name in the European martial arts scene –  Priit Mihkelson and John Kavanagh.

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SBGi SPRING CAMP 2014 REVIEW and THANKS

I have been contemplating for the past week what I was going to write for my Camp review. There was so much information, and due to hosting I did miss sections of the instructional time.
So rather than comment on each Coaches individual section taught at Camp, I am going to give a general review regarding the instructional portion, and then a description of what I feel each of the coaches brought to the Camp in terms of their individuality, that when it comes together, helps create “SBGi”.
Sections covered were Dutch Kickboxing, using grips to set up takedowns, what is going to revolutionize open guard – the “grilled chicken”, some very cool yoga for athletes, guard passing strategies, leg lock attacks, two very simple takedowns for all levels to use, and a very informative Q & A….also taught at the Camp was the Level 2 Coaches Course, updates on the Growing Gorillas Children’s Martial Arts and Life skills Program, and the SBGi Business Owners Meeting.
What is remarkable about the SBGi curriculum is the way that everything just naturally fits together. Regardless who was coaching, every section flowed together. It was a progression that was easily learned by every athlete present, from beginner to seasoned veteran, and was able to be applied against a resisting opponent almost immediately.
Now to the Coaches….

Coach Adam and Rory Singer:

two of the funniest and upbeat people in the business…always pumped up and ready to go, even after a good night out…a UFC veteran and a Coach to World Champions, yet both are so approachable by anyone…they always take time to talk to everyone and make each person like they are the most important person in the room when doing so….

Coach Lily Pagle:

one of the coolest ladies around…a wealth of knowledge that she shares so passionately….to watch her throw people twice her size around while making it look so effortless is the mark of a true martial artist….and she always does it with that smile on her face….
Coach Priit Mihkelson:
the “jits vulcan” changed the way everyone will look at open guard with his “grilled chicken”….his direct approach and “Estonian humour” make for instruction that everyone thoroughly enjoys, can learn at their own pace, and can take home with them ready to explore more….other than Coach Matt, no one has had such an impact on the way I coach my athletes than Coach Priit…

Yoga Coaches Salome Thornton and Kisa Davison:

two of the most intelligent, professional instructors in their field….they exude passion and genuine concern for helping make every single athlete better…..it was a privilege to have them run us through the paces at Camp….everyone now has a better understanding of how to help themselves when it comes to their own bodies and how to make themselves feel healthier…

Coach Stephen Whittier:

Coach Steve has the ability to take something that others may think is way above their pay scale, break it down to fundamental stages, and re-introduce it to the student body so that everyone will walk out of the session having been successful in not only learning what was taught, but also being able to actually apply it against a resisting opponent….

Coach Travis Davison:

“steers try…bulls get it done”….we all know this is one of Coach Travis’s tag lines, and the man lives this….tons of things going on for him and Kisa yet he made everyone at Camp feel like THEY were the only ones that counted….he exudes professionalism, and his no bullshit, direct approach to training, coaching, and life in general is a huge motivating force to everyone within the tribe…

Coach John Kavanagh:

A saying I grew up with is “Humility Breeds Leadership…Adversity Builds Character and Strength”….this truly represents “Coach Kav”….while enduring his own personal loss, he still took to the mats and gave a phenomenal session to all….and for having the balls to give the talk to everyone he did at the end of his session, a big THANK YOU from all, for showing us no matter what your place in life, we are all here to help each other anyway we can….

Coach Matt Thornton:

so much I could say, but I want to focus on just one thing that Coach Matt said this weekend that has, and will continue, to affect all in attendance….

“SBG…creating an environment where people can feel safe to be vulnerable”…

One of the most defining statements of the weekend, and a very clear representation of what SBGi truly stands for….Coach Matt has always had the best interest of EVERY member of SBGi at heart….he has led by example with integrity, passion, selflessness, and genuine concern for all….for that we are very, very thankful…
I would like to thank everyone who travelled to attend Camp…..the SBG Toronto Team were out in full force….we had friends from Michigan, Alberta, Massachusetts…A special thanks to Steve Bazzea for flying in from Cape Town, South Africa….that is commitment….
Thanks to all my students at SBG Niagara that attended Camp…..I appreciate the support and I am glad that some of you who may not be able to travel as much as you would like had the opportunity to meet, train, and hang out with my Coaches….
And a big thank you to my family for letting me spend the time I needed to spend on organizing things to have a successful Camp….having you all beside me makes me push forward no matter what is in the way…
And as I have not found anything else that better describes the “vibe” of SBGi…..here is the quote from Denzel Washington that I feel fits accordingly….again, I THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!
“If you ask me, successful means helping others. I look around at people who have accomplished all kinds of great and worthwhile things, and I think, “OK, so what have you done with what you have?”
 
We all know about the awards you’ve won and riches you’ve received, but at the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments.
 
It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”- Denzel Washington
Rich Beaupit.
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@aliveness_ape: When they are agitated, when they are angry – you remain calm, you adapt, you win.

That’s Jiu-Jitsu.

FIRST EVER Women’s SBG Camp!

Salome Thornton organized the first ever SBGi ladies camp in tandem with PDX’s home grown Phenom’s Amanda Loewen (now Amanda Diggins),  Leah Taylor, and the legendary Lily Pagle (Matt’s first female black belt!).

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You missed it.

You told yourself you would go to the next one.

You screwed up!

“I have been doing BJJ since February 2012. I decided to sign up for the camp right when I heard about it.I figured it would be a good experience.
I have been in SBG regular camp since I started training and I always came out better, had knowledge I could apply right away. I was a little scared because it was the first time I was travelling in US by myself. I did meet very nice people. It is taught as a woman train BJJ especially when you are training with men mostly but that was a great experience.
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I was prepping for the words championship and it was very helpful to train with people my size. There was no ego on the mats, everyone was there to learn and train. I did left with a luggage full of knowledge, new friends and great memories. It is rare to see that many high level belt women teaching on the same mats.
I would recommend to go to the next camp because it will definitely be awesome. It was worth flying all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast for a week !”

-Anick Bernier

Camp was also graced by SBG’s bright & beautiful T.U.F contestant Aisling Daly

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Aside from the great turn out, the ladies camp really highlighted the growth of women in the sport, and in the organization itself.

Now the women of SBG are becoming some of our top coaches and athletes. Unlike some organizations that push for, or have their women teaching only kids or other women – or competing with only other women, SBG has seen our ladies come up as great coaches for men, and women – and competing and WINNING in men’s divisions.

It’s great to see this grow, especially with all the hubbub around people debating the validity of women in the sport.

SBG has already been there and done that!

 
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“We win. We win smoothly and safely.” – Conor McGregor

The biggest SBG Camp to date!

The 2014 fall camp was also a huge success. Not only did it feature almost every SBG black belt from the U.S. – it also brought in Jiu Jitsu legend Chris Haueter.

Coach Adam Singer had this to say about the event:
 
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In Lieu of a camp review I am just going to thank everyone that made the camp such a special weekend for me. If you don’t want to read any further then here is the summary: I LOVE You. If I forgot anyone than I am a D!@K
To all the camp attendee’s – It was a pleasure to meet and speak to ALL of you. You were a great crowd and the energy and thirst allowed the coaches to be at their best.
Alan and Lilly – You are both awesome. Alan than you for the S&C conversations and Lilly you are a one of a kind role model.
Pesh – The man that never stops smiling. I would have been scared to share a bed with.
Rory as well.
Seth – The best way I have ever seen to make sure people don’t forget you.
Rich – Thanks for the roll Saturday. I know that my weekend would have been shot if they had lost my luggage, but your positivity and “go with the flow” attitude is infectious.
Zach – What a great job you did pulling this camp off. Working with family is hard and you pull it off.
Ray – A good man and a well-deserved black belt. I shared the mat with you when you were a white belt and I was proud to share it as black belts. Thanks for the roll Friday night.
Boise Crew – What a bad ass group of grapplers. I am still not sure how many of you there are. Watching you guys Iron Man Rory Friday night was mega fun for me.LOL Scott, the clinch lesson on Sunday was much appreciated. Thanks for not throwing me around too much in front of everyone.
Destiny – Pleasure to meet you Mrs. Abbott and thank you for taking such good care of me. And your husband wasn’t too bad either. Great to meet you Justin.
Jim – Killer breakfast and thanks for always having a cold water for me.
Fisher – Looks like you ended up in the right place. I love you kid.
Amanda – Your Iron Man brought all the qualities that make you a bad ass grappler to the surface (smooth, technical, tenacious). As well deserved black belt as any I have seen. And that other stupid thing you are dealing with, you will kick its ass as well.
Leah – your iron man was one of the highlights for me. And don’t worry, you will figure out what you want to do when you grow up or not. Either way enjoy the ride. You are going to make a great black belt.
Rick – We WON by giving the people what they wanted. Rick if you are not one of the most authentic people I have ever meet than I don’t know the definition of the word.
Cane – Here’s the highest compliment I can pay you, DAMM you are a good coach. : ) Sorry for ducking you Friday night but Steve and Ray took all my life force.
Haueter – SBG’s resident Grandpa. Thank you for the roll on Saturday. I always learn a ton. Your camp sessions are like watching auto racing. Your understanding of BJJ is second to none. And Saturday nights rants just add to your legend. There is no other black belt that could fill the roll you fill.
Steve – You are the ultimate triple threat. Always humbled by your vast knowledge and generosity. Thanks for the great “conversation” Friday night.
Paul (I older brother I always wanted) – It is so funny explaining to people how you fit into SBG. I just say: That’s my older brother.
Rory (The younger brother I always wanted) – Doing these things with you is a greater gift than you can ever know.
Power Couple 1 – Travis and Kisa – I love you guys. You have affected my life in so many ways the last few years and I look forward to many more.
Power Couple 2 – Matt and Salome – No one outside of SBG could truly understand what you have built. It takes a very strong leader to bring so many disparate personalities together into something stronger than its parts. And to see you so centered and present is a testament to your better half. Thanks for spend they day with us on Monday. And thank you for all of it.
Everyone else was missed and I hope to see you in the spring. Kav, Karl, Pritt, Winjet, Jason.One Tribe, One Vibe” –Adam Singer
For Fall Camp “By The Numbers” Click Here – http://sbgi-pdx.com/amazing-straight-blast-gym-fall-camp-numbers/

The  Fall Camp was an amazing event. The largest camp to date, and a historical event, with the first ever Ironman of Three Black Belts!

 @aliveness_ape: When you pretend to know what you don’t know – you don’t grow. Growth requires vulnerability. Vulnerability starts with – “I don’t know.”

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Matt awarded Ray Price, a long standing SBG athlete and coach from Reno -far right- with his well earned BJJ black belt.

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Big Congrats to Raymond Price on his black belt! Ray is epitome of what an SBGi black belt is. He’s humble, curious, smart, kind, and generous. Ray is a big guy but when you roll with him you see right away that his game is buttery smooth. He’s done what is very difficult for big guys to do. He’s put aside his natural attributes and focussed intently on learning the art. Ray is a guy who is willing to share everything he knows and will patiently coach a room full of athletes with a kind and humble attitude that immediately makes everyone feel at home. He’s exactly the kind of person who makes it to black belt in SBGi and I could not be more proud to call him friend and colleague. Congrats Ray!”

– Cane Prevost

Matt also awarded coach Leah Taylor, Portland SBGi’s first IBJJF world champion, her well earned black belt.

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Congrats to Leah Taylor on her well deserved black belt. Leah came to us from my Jiu Jitsu big brother Travis Davison’s gym in Montana. She quickly became an integral part of the team. What I can say about Leah is that I have seen nobody who enjoys jiu jitsu more. If you hear laughing on the mat it’s likely Leah. Her ego free and enjoyment on the mat is deceiving because you’d never know that she’s a world champion bjj player. Her skill level was very good when she arrived in Portland. She’s consistently worked to improve her game. Leah approaches BJJ with a beginners mind always. It’s not unusual to see her in a class full of white and blue belts humbly learning the art. She rolls like a world champion but never acts like one. She brings a scientific mind to the coaching of Jiu Jitsu and will certainly take the already good coaching strategies the SBGi uses to the next level.It’s great to see the next generation of black belts not only spreading the word of aliveness but innovating and creatively advancing both the art and the coaching methodology. I am very proud of all that Leah has accomplished and I’m honored to call her friend and colleague. Congrats Coach Leah!”

– Cane Prevost

And finally, Matt awarded coach Amanda Loewen her well earned black belt. Amanda is now fastest white to black belt student in the entire organization – achieving that skill level in just five years!

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“Big congrats to Amanda Loewen/Diggins on her well earned black belt. Amanda is the hardest working athlete at the gym and her game has surpassed mine a long time ago. I remember when she first joined the gym she was very enthusiastic about BJJ but extremely nice. She used to apologize all the time when rolling if she smashed the other guy. She asked me one time what she had to do to get her game to blue belt level. I told her she had to find her inner bitch. Thankfully she didn’t follow my advice and she continues to be one of the kindest people to smash your face in when rolling. I am humbled to call her a colleague and grateful to call her a friend. She is not only the first female black belt in Oregon but also the first black belt couple AND the fastest white to black belt in the history of SBGi. Enough said! Congrats Coach Amanda!”
– Cane Prevost
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Of course these weren’t the only promotions this year.

 As SBG grows worldwide so does the number of students and promotions being earned. We congratulate everyone who has made those leaps forward this year. Here are just a few from that list.
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“Another Black Belt joins the ranks of SBG Ireland. Massive achievement and well earned for SBG City Centre Head Coach Arkadiusz Sternalski. Represents the Old Skool SBG having fought Kickboxing, MMA and competed in Grappling and IBJJF tournaments – a true Black Belt in Martial Arts. A ferocious competitor on the mat and patient teacher in the gym, represents all that is good about SBG. Another proud moment in my career!” – Coach John Kavanagh
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Conor McGregor after his first round K.O. UFC win against top ten fighter Dustin Poirier, being promoted to SBGi brown belt. 
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“So proud to see my friend and team mate Aisling Daly graded to Brown Belt tonight after a gruelling ironman. One of the most decorated and accomplished martial artists in the country, this was incredibly well deserved and hard earned!”  -Tom King
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Anick was just awarded her very well-deserved purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Coach Steve after an impressive hour long ironman! Anick is coming off a double gold performance at the IBJJF Boston Open (winning both her weight class and the absolute/open weight), and gold at the IBJJF No Gi Pan Americans (where Coach John Murphy also competed, taking home a silver). Obviously her competition game is on point, but more importantly she has a very well-rounded and technical game that exemplifies what an SBG Purple Belt should be! -SBG Wareham Newsletter
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I am very proud to have just awarded Rich Beaupit his purple belt in BJJ. Like all SBG belts, it wasn’t due to time in grade, position in the tribe, or volume of techniques he can demonstrate. It is instead, a symbol that represents tangible skill, personal performance and coaching ability, that Rich earned from years of effort and battles, on the mat. It is a symbol of something that cannot be faked.
I also want to say that Rich is the kind of man I respect a great deal. And that respect has only grown over time.
A strong family man who lives his values. A dedicated father who always puts his kids first. A hard worker who never takes a handout. A benefit to his community, and a positive role model to the thousands of kids he has taught and helped mentor over many decades.
He is someone whose advice I would, and will, seek. And I keep him on speed dial for when my daughters hit their teenage years and I need the counsel of someone whose been there, and done it the right way.
Well done, Rich. I am proud to have you as part of the Tribe.”Matt Thornton

Rich Beaupit highlights the values that SBG is all about.

Which brings us to the little things, SBG is an International organization of World Class training facilities, but it is also a Tribe that shares its values and methods.

No matter how small – each victory for an individual tribe member is a victory for the entire tribe.

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Charity Drives

Food and toy drives being ran all throughout the country to help local communities.

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Not all of the challenges faced by our fellow tribe members –

 although life changing –

make the headlines.

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The members who represent us in the public not only do a good job representing themselves – but do such a great job of representing the Straight Blast Gym Community as a whole.

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Life long commitments to the Tribe-
Rarely do you become a part of something so powerful that people choose to brand themselves with it.
It seemed like a flood of SBG tattoos washed over facebook this year.
It’s a long standing tradition as quite a few coaches have their own gorilla tattoos and it’s great to see it continue.
 

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Those from outside of the tribe also show their support-

Left: Justin Garcia (Master Chim) sporting his Team Tedzilla Shirt.

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And those that find lifelong friendship –

The families and friends that have spent decades together in SBG.

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And to those that find Love-

Our communities comes together to help support those that have already given so much to us.

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As most of you already knew – SBG is much more than a group of martial arts academies.

It’s a Tribe.

A tribe that, all around the world, shares values, friendships, and success.

One Tribe, One Vibe.

VIVA SBGI!

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