SBG Interview with BJJ legend Rickson Gracie

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend, Rickson Gracie, interviewed by Matt Thornton, the founding coach of SBG Portland and SBG international. See what Rickson has to say about coaching philosophies, the current competition meta, his favorite BJJ athletes, and more!


MMA Legend and SBG athlete Connor McGregorRickson played a large part in the founding of SBG. Matt cites him as one of the main sources for his Portland's own world class BJJ athlete, Amanda Diggins.coaching philosophies and understanding of BJJ. These coaching concepts have led to the creation of some of the world’s top athletes. Athletes like Amanda Diggins (Portland) and Leah Taylor (Montana) who BOTH, at the highest level of competition for BJJ in the world, just placed at the IBJJF World’s as BLACK BELTS.  Not to mention the other world class athletes, like the famous Conor McGregor, who is easily the top fighter in multiple weight classes, and possibly the best pound for pound MMA fighter in the world.

This interview was filmed and edited by Vic Levine. Be sure to check out the SBG Podcast on iTunes -Click Here-  and subscribe to our YouTube Channel -Click Here- for great interviews, news, techniques, and more!



In April, SBG was lucky enough to host Rickson Gracie in Portland, Oregon, for a once in a lifetime seminar. Well over two hundred students, from all affiliations and disciplines in martial arts, traveled from across the globe just for a chance to train with Rickson for three hours. It was an extremely enlightening experience and we are very grateful to Rickson for the opportunity to learn about his ideologies on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


Rickson's BJJ seminar in Portland


Do you live Portland and want to learn BJJ?

Give us a call or fill out a form for our 45 day free trial. SBG was founded right here in Portland and we are happy to celebrate our 25 year anniversary this year. Since 1992, SBG has been bringing world class coaching to the greater Portland area and we hope you come in to see for yourself!

A Jedi at the Spring Camp

Who Is This Jedi


JOHN FRANKL JIU-JITSU (Nov 2011) from F.O.B. in Seoul on Vimeo.



John Frankl has been a long standing member of SBGi for over ten years.  Frankl’s main academy and bjj association is in South Korea where he teaches and studies at a Korean university. His breed of intelligence and dedication to Jiu Jitsu has turned Frankl into a Jiu Jitsu jedi of sorts.  For the average black belt and certainly anyone bellow that level watching Frankl roll with his loose grips, relaxed muscle, and ease of movement as he effortlessly moves around others he can appear almost psychic.  “The Force” is certainly strong with this one. He will be a mainstay of concept and art for those lucky enough to attend this years Spring Camp in Portland.


Frankl will be bringing his latest innovation BJJ defense “The Inverted Monkey Grip” and believe me, this will change the way you survive on bottom!

To discover his secret to “grips” and other jedi mind tricks reserve your slot today!

Time is running out with only 17 days left to register for camp!

Click Here to register or simply call the academy at 503-230-7924


John Frankl is just one of the over FOURTEEN coaches set to coach this camp! We also just had the pleasure of announcing coach Priit Mihkelson and both Adam, and Rory Singer from Athens Georgia!

He is coming……


The Grand Father of North West Jiu Jitsu Coming To Portland!

Chris Haueter!

Chris Haueter is an old friend of SBG – and the coach to SBG Founder & President Matt Thornton.  Matt met Chris Haueter in the early 90’s, after receiving his blue belt from Rickson Gracie. They quickly became friends and Chris took up the roll as Matt’s primary Jiu Jitsu coach. Chris went on to award Matt his purple, brown, and black belts in BJJ.

Chris Haueter
Chris Haueter at the Montana Fall Camp.

The Dirty Dozen

It’s very rare to come across a coach with as many credentials as Chris Haueter. Aside from being a martial arts pioneer – he is one of the famed “Dirty Dozen”. The first twelve black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from outside Brazil. Chris was the 5th American to receive a black belt in the art.  He was the first American black belt to compete in the Mundials (The Worlds). And he was also the first American black belt to win a match at black belt. Over the years Chris has won multiple Pan American Championships, and super fight victories.

Chris Haueter and Randy Couture at SBG Salem

Birth Of North West Jiu Jitsu

Chris Haueter’s involvement with SBG and Matt went beyond just teaching Jiu Jitsu. Chris helped shape the coaching philosophies and is widely acclaimed as one of the top conceptual Jiu Jitsu coaches around. Chris is truly a “Fundamental” practitioner of the art. His Jiu Jitsu is all about the delivery system, a core philosophy that runs deep within the roots of SBGi.

With the exception of the few coaches who have migrated to  the greater Portland area, Chris Haueter and Matt Thornton are the starting point for them all. The most successful and longest standing Jiu Jitsu academies in Oregon can almost exclusively trace their lineage back to training with Matt and his coach Chris Haueter.


History From An Eye Witness

Those lucky enough to be in Montana for Chris Haueter’s section at the 2013 Spring Camp not only got one of the most all encompassing sections on the guard that anyone had ever seen, but also a complete history lesson on its evolution through time. Chris went from the very beginning of the closed guard and then walked everyone through its evolution into the different guards, how they evolved, what their function was, and how each led to the next step in the growth of Jiu Jitsu.  The segment was eye opening for everyone, including the ten plus BJJ black belts in attendance, including long term veterans of the art like Matt Thornton and John Frankl (Both of whom have been black belts for over ten years!) To sum it up, Chris Haueter’s history of the guard segment was jaw dropping!

That Camp, including that monumental section by Chris, was not filmed. Those who missed the Camp, missed history! Don’t be that person who makes the same mistake this year.


2014 Fall Camp Primed To Be The Best Camp Yet

With the coaching ranks of the 2014 SBGi Fall Camp once again being graced by the grand father of SBG Jiu Jitsu, Chris Haueter, you can bank on this event being the experience of a lifetime!
Check out for more details and registration. And sign up NOW while a few spots remain!

And Remember “It’s Not Who’s Best, It’s Who’s Left.” – Chris Haueter


Portland Jiu Jitsu History

Fabio Santos Seminar

Who is Fabio Santos and how did this man have such a big impact on Jiu Jitsu in Portland?

Aside from being a phenomenal coach and competitor world wide-

1996 World Jiu-Jitsu Champion
1996 Pan American Champion
1999 Gameness Champion
2000 World Jiu-Jitsu Champion
2003 Pan American Champion
2003 US Open- Black Belt Masters Champion
2004 United Gracie- Black Belt Superfight Champion
2005 Black Belt Pro Am- Superfight Champion

Fabio Santos also played a pivotal role in the development of Jiu Jitsu in Portland. Straight Blast Gym was the fist academy in Portland to offer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Matt Thornton being the first coach and first black belt teaching in Oregon.  But where did Matt first find out about Jiu Jitsu, why was Jiu Jitsu so important to Matt, and who started him down the path of BJJ?

It all started in 1991 but why don’t you hear it straight from Fabio himself-

Straight Blast Gym became fully established in 1992 but that first lesson from Fabio Santos is what started SBGi down it’s path.

Matt recounts the story like it was yesterday. He came across an ad in the newspaper saying something about if you show up I will pay you to fight me. Matt at the time was coaching JKD and regularly boxing so was more then willing to go check out what this gentleman had to offer.


Matt showed up and despite his size and attribute advantage he was repeatedly swept and submitted.  Astonished by Fabio’s ability to do this over and over Matt decided that this was the biggest missing piece in the whole of his martial arts.  Matt hurried back to tell his fellow JKD instructors but no one seemed as interested in Jiu Jitsu as Matt and didn’t believe that it was nearly as important as Matt believed it was.  Matt shortly after separated and open a new kind of JKD school the Straight Blast Gym (named after the straight blast in JKD).

Now nearly twenty three years later the legend himself mister Fabio Santos came back to SBG to teach a truly one of a kind seminar.  Fabios Jiu Jitsu is the real old school Jiu Jitsu that took the world by storm as the Gracies opened up the UFC and began fighting in the U.S.A and Japan.

Fabio Santos Seminar
Fabio Santos going over staying safe in the guard.

A Treat and Privilege for the students of SBGi

With the advent of rules and regulations put on by the IBJJF new moves and ways to capitalize on the rules are all the buzz. Most seminars are taught by who ever the most recent champions are and what ever moves they use over and over are the highlight.  In keeping with Matt Thornton’s goal to teach a fundamental game that works not only in IBJJF competition but also in MMA or for self defense, SBG has never put much emphasis on the new “Trending” techniques that seem to pop up. The coaches for competition teach them and the fundamental break downs but they are never the emphasis.

This is what made Fabio Santos’ seminar such a breath of fresh air. All the techniques taught by Fabio were fundamental and devoid of being “competition specific”.

He also brought unique advice as a smaller practitioner in his later years. The smaller students and students over the age of forty or even fifty and sixty had quite a few questions for Fabio concerning longevity in the art. Some of the advice was just what you would expect, eat right, stay healthy, don’t drink to much. The real treasures of wisdom came when Fabio started talking about his approach to rolling. For the older students it was simple “pick your rolls”.  Fabio put a major emphasis on being careful who you roll with and making sure to take time off to let injuries fully recover.

For the smaller students it was even simpler a student asked “for smaller people what do you suggest?” Fabio replied simply with “the guard”.  Fabio went on to explain how important the development of a good solid guard is for smaller students as Fabio said “If I roll with someone like him (Fabio motions to Matt) and he passes my guard, I’m Dead!” making sure you can keep the larger opponents at bay and keeping them off of the top of you is pivotal for success as a smaller practitioner.

Truly authentic, fundamental, sage advice from a Jiu Jitsu Legend.  There is no real way to put into words what an honor it was to have Fabio at the academy, and we hope to have him back soon!

Wisdom and Experience

If you are in his area visiting his academy is a must! Feel free to click the link to his school.

For more details on training at SBGi Portland feel free to enter for our free trial or call us at 503-230-7924

SBGi Growing World Wide




As you may have heard….
SBG Ireland
World History!

Just in case you spent the last month under a rock, amazing news came from Ireland!  SBG Ireland’s John Kavanagh made world history at the UFC Fight Night, Coaching 4 out of his 4 SBG fighters to wins, ALL OF THEM by submission or K.O!

For any coach having an athlete compete in the UFC and win by a K.O. or submission is quite the accomplishment, to do that with four athletes all in one night is unheard of!

Has any other coach in history done this?  Check out the Vice article for more……

self defense for kids



The tribe’s bi-annual Spring and Fall camps have become the stuff of legend within the SBGi community. Our last two camps held at SBG Niagara and SBG Montana, have certainly raised the bar to new heights. 

Now, after nearly five years the camp is coming home! The 2014 camp is sure to be one of the most momentous
camps to date.  Having camp come back to the Mecca of SBG -The Portland Gym – Home of head coach Matt Thornton and the genesis of SBGi.

Space will be limited though so be sure to register ASAP.  The Portland academy can only accommodate so many at once so there will be a cap on how many can attend.  With the majority of home members in attendance and Travis Davison rallying a troop of gorillas from Montana, slots will fill up quickly. So register while you still

Be sure to check the new site for SBG camps @   or simply click bellow to register.



Matt with his first ever BJJ coach Fabio Santos


Don’t Forget
Connect To
The Fall Camp
on this link to make sure you like the Fall Camp FaceBook page and stay up to date on all the up and coming news!




New Academies And Affiliates Join The Tribe


SBGi hasn’t stopped growing since it first opened over 23 years ago.  The amazing thing about it is that every year the amount of newly opened gyms and academies joining SBGi seems to increase.  SBG Ireland finished their move into their new facility and have already tripled
membership. Similarly,  as of 2014 the membership at SBG Portland has doubled. This growth has created a new demand for space, and a whole slew of new up and coming athletes.  With the success from both the coaches and athletes the word about SBG continues to spread faster every day. 
It seems like the combination of top-notch coaches and authentic training is doing the trick, and Straight Blast Gyms are
popping up everywhere. From our newest SBGi’s like Elko Nevada, Whitefish Montana, and even across the pond in Cork Ireland, SBGi remains a continual and ever-growing name in martial arts.  Even entire preexisting gyms are making the joint decision to join the tribe like our newest Tribe members in Seattle and now Idaho.
There doesn’t seem to be any sign that the growth is going to slow down.  SBGi is only
picking up the pace and the word about what it means to be SBG is spreading faster every day.

Keep an eye open for the new academies near you.


SBGi V.P. Travis Davison in action


SBG Portland’s Amanda Loewen Wins Silver at Worlds


SBG Portland’s very own Amanda Loewen came within a hair of winning gold at worlds this year.  She lost by a narrow point advantage to Andre Galvao’s wife Melissa Galvao, who then got her black belt on the podium.  This hasn’t made Amanda slow down though. Loewen is a true
inspiration walking away from such a close victory with the right frame of mind and ready to go back again even stronger then before.
Like a true SBG Athlete Amanda had this to say-“I was not first today. I will not be last next time time. Thank you to my coaches, teammates and students for believing in me. I will be more efficient in the future. SBG.”


Amanda Loewen’s
New Page
Video Tips!

Get more tips on:

Amanda launched her FaceBook page. Make sure to give it a like so you can get in on the free video tips she’s posting!

Read More




For just about a month Matt traveled throughout the SBGi’s in Ireland going over his Instructor Training Program II  and most recent Jiu Jitsu curriculum.

The tour turned out to be quite the event. The seminar at the Ireland SBGi HQ had a fantastic turn out.  While Matt
was there the Ireland HQ’s very own Aisling Daly received her brown belt, just in time for her to head out to The Ultimate Fighter T.V show.







Breakfast with an owl in Ireland


A few people from the Ireland HQ showed up to Matt’s seminar.




Head Coach Matt going over the ITP 2 curriculum in Ireland
Ais getting her brown belt


Aisling gets her brown belt before heading off to compete in The Ultimate Fighter


Portland’s own John Diggins wins first place against a Brazilian flown in for the first ever 5 Tournament that was held in Oregon.  In fact, Three Brazilian competitors were flown in to compete at the Oregon Five tournament.  The Results?  Three Oregon athletes go home with gold medals and the flown in Brazilians go home empty handed.

“Scared, ignorant, & powerless boys confuse fear for respect. It’s the job of mature males to teach them otherwise – to teach them to be men.” – Matt Thornton

What makes SBG training methods so different?
Matt Thornton on the evolution of improving training methods.


Click to see Amanda Loewen in her No-Gi finals match







“Sometimes being a bit shocking, being a bit blunt, is needed – in order to help people to see a truth that may be, for them, shocking.”

– Matt Thornton



Priit finished his Spring Tour of North America.  He spent his time spreading some of the most ground breaking concepts to come out of SBG over the last few years. His concept of “Zero Points” and his work on the the “Grilled Chicken Guard” has been game changing for everyone that
he’s come in contact with.
He will be missed and we are all looking forward to having him back in America again.  Priit truly is a Jiu Jitsu scientist.To contact Priit or schedule him for a seminar check out his site.




Keep your eye open when you watch the next Metamoris to see Matt Thornton’s coach Chris Haueter refereeing the matches.



Casey goes over what Jiu Jitsu means to him, what he means by giving back, what it means to give back, and why it’s important.

Click the button bellow to find out more.



Sample Headline


    Word about Rickson’s new organization surfaces and SBGi is interested.  The new rules look to be less subjective and look like they are trying to bring the competitive aspects of Jiu Jitsu, the
“sport” back to the roots of Jiu Jitsu “the self defense system”.
Matt Thornton has always pushed to insure that SBG Jiu Jitsu is based on what he calls “The Delivery System”.   The goal being to teach a Jiu Jitsu that is a complete game. This is to insure that each student can develop in a way that allows them to react with a similar “game” despite the circumstance.From Gi to No-Gi,  MMA to Self Defense, imparting a a complete game is the goal of an SBGi
coach.   This is what makes the idea behind what Rickson is trying to develop with his new rule set is right up SBG’s ally.We are all interested to see what will come of it.


SBG U.K.’s Matt Innman gets his own Highlight Reel
Image article covers Matt Innman (MMA Fighter out of SBG Manchester). They feature an awesome Highlight reel showcasing some of his fights and training.  Keep an eye on this fighter, just like the other athletes of SBGi Matt Innman is on his way up to the
If all the top athletes came from one SBGi we would know that it’s just “that gym” or “that coach” but it seems that SBGi has top world class athletes are popping up all over the globe!
The competition better look out- SBG is coming.

“We can never forget that our moral indignation at certain acts of violence – is never protection from it.” – Matt Thornton



Nobody ever says, “let me find out” – until after they’ve admitted, “I don’t know.” – Matt Thornton



“I eat like a hunter gatherer who hunts a biscuit tin.” -Karl Tanswell

John Frankl Competes In The Bay

Friend & SBGi South Korea Coach, longtime BJJ black belt, John Frankl (the Godfather of BJJ in Korea) showcased some beautiful grappling at the 2014 All Star Tournament. Who said Harvard PhDs can’t roll. If you took one of John’s 2014 seminars, you’ll recognize
what he does here.  


Follow Matt On Twitter

“Relativism is the Bernie Madoff of values.” – Matt Thornton

And don’t for get to follow the new site.

Jiu Jitsu is Easy

“Jiu Jitsu is Easy”


These are words not commonly heard in the world of BJJ,  Until Now-

SBG has always been known for it’s coaching methods and the production of students with solid fundamentals and vast range of games.  Matt Thornton head coach of SBGi has always attributed the range of games to the simplicity of the coaching. The philosophy works as follows, the less specific the instructions the more play the student will have and the faster they will develop.   Matt has been heading down this road for over 20 years. Now in his second generation of black belts and MMA fighters it’s really starting to show.  Athletes like Gunnar Nelson, and Conor McGregor are now gracing the MMA scene.  In the Portland HQ where Matt has had his eyes on the worlds our athletes are pushing boundaries like 5 year brown belt Amanda Loewen taking second place this year in the worlds (One of several sbgi medalist).

Amanda Loewen with Priit

But is it enough?

Does the world believe it?  SBG has always pushed the importance of coaching and how coaching and personal performance are not equivalent.  For example a Worlds Gold medalist being unable to explain or convey their technique (Not unheard of).   With this emphasis on coaching there has been a push towards simplicity. The goal being the most practical and quickest way to have students develop. This has led down a path to new developments like the old school “Fundamental 5 of (insert position)” from Matt, and ideas like “Posture Pressure Possibilities” from Cane Prevost.  So what have the mad scientist at SBGi been up to now?

First The Author

Priit a black belt from Estonia who for the most part is unheard of outside of SBG has been pushing this envelope.  He now begins classes with phrases like “Jiu Jitsu is easy” and “I will now teach you everything you need to know about cross sides in one hour”.  It seems insane but what Priit has come up with is beautiful in it’s simplicity.  He has spent his time hacking at BJJ with Occam’s razor testing, theorizing, testing, and with all with world class athletes and coaches.  The end results have been well worth the work.

The One Guard To Rule Them All-

For now the idea of “Zero points” may or may not be completely unique to SBG right now. So I wont be going into to many details but, any bjj practitioner could tell you that one of the most complicated and variable intensive positions is the open guard.   So many guards and ideas in the position, Spider, De La Riva, Butterfly, X- Guard and these names are barely scratching the surface.  The idea that you only need to learn one open guard position seems almost insane. That’s what makes Priit’s “Grilled Chicken” so powerful.  Beauty in it’s simplicity-

For Now It Has Remained in SBGi

Although there has been rumors of it being taught outside of SBG as of right now it’s only hear say.  But for the first time we are posting his opening publicly. This will probably serve as nothing more then a teaser but even this will open you up to Priit’s idea of “Zero Points”.


BJJ Beware, The Grilled Chicken is Near.



A Rare Opportunity and the Privilege of Training at SBG Portland

Portland Jiu Jitsu Students Get a Rare Privilege This June

For students of Jiu Jitsu one of the most daunting positions is the guard. Working to be offensive from a defensive position can be hard to wrap your mind around. Luckily for most of us in the current generation the road work was already laid out. Thanks to gentlemen like Royce Gracie showing how powerful you can be even when on your back against a bigger opponent.

Royce Proving the Guard

The road work was laid by the Gracie’s. They proved the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Guard, a position almost completely unique to BJJ.  Now all we have to do is take one of the most complicated and overwhelming positions in grappling and make sense of it.  Most practitioners will agree that the guard has more variables then any other position in grappling (shy of just a scramble).

So how do you make sense of this position?  If you ask SBGi’s head coach Matt Thornton the answer will always be simplicity. Simplify the position and break it down to its core movements.  Cane Prevost who pioneered the PPP Posture, Pressure, Possibilities has certainly done this on a regular basis. As has Matt with concepts like the 3 points of contact, or the fundamental 5 of passing.  The goal being to simplify and pass on the knowledge. Cutting down on the time it takes to learn Jiu Jitsu allowing students to progress at a higher pace and hopefully to a higher level.

Mission Statement From Matt

Thanks so much, Rich Beaupit for this very cool framed quote! So far camp has been nothing short of amazing. Great people, great training. And Priit’s material lives up to the buzz. He has reinvented open guard. The curriculum for SBGi as a whole, has now changed.” -Matt Thornton

But the guard is still elusive and over whelming even with basic concepts like 3 points of contact.  No longer though. Priit has not only broken it down but he has found what he refers to as a Zero Point.  A finite point of the open guard to serve as a starting point. Not only to go back to but also an understanding of the position so that when someone does pass you understand WHY.

This is Huge, The Portland Jiu Jitsu Scene is about to be forever changed

As any jiu jitsu practitioner can tell you understanding why your guard was passed can be quite the task. It’s easy to find out how. After all it did just happen to you. You can even see it happen sometimes.  However understanding WHY that pass worked on you is a completely different subject. Dissecting the pass and understanding what allowed it to happen is a huge break through in the open guard. Priit has designed an entire curriculum to do just this.  Priit will be debuting his “Grilled Chicken” curriculum for himself this June. The weekend of the 6th will forever change the Portland Jiu Jitsu scene.  For those who attend they will have a deeper understanding of the open guard and will skyrocket their learning curve.  For those who don’t….. Good luck passing, I hope you’re well practiced.

PriitMihk Seminar FlyerPortland Jiu Jitsu Coach Matt Thornton Said it Best

Jiu-Jitsu is profound precisely because it cannot be faked. You cannot agree to disagree; you cannot create your own “reality”. You will tap or be tapped. You are within that context, not vice versa. And that lack of an exit door for the ego, that absence of an escape route for the excuse making mind, is exactly what makes Jiu-Jitsu the vehicle for potential learning and growth, that for the intelligent, it is.” -Matt Thornton

Anyone who attends this Portland Jiu Jitsu seminar will find out first hand. The rest will be the test subjects.

Unless You’re Hindu

You only live once

(Unless you’re Hindu)

godess-kali-1 (1)

SBGi has hit the ground running world wide!

With 2014 being one of the biggest years to date for the organization (Click here for details)  all of the gyms have started pushing to make 2014 even better! In Manchester Karl Tanswell head coach of SBG Mainline hours to awesome campaign.

to be awesome

Which was promptly “stolen” (soon to be “stolen” by pdx manager Zach Thornton) by John Kavanagh in Ireland. Who just opened his all new 10,000 sqft academy. The grand opening that started off featuring a Conor McGregor television appearance and featured an open house.

New Ireland Homebase

At the home base head coach Matt Thornton is preparing with his top athletes as they prepare for the IBJJF Pan-American Championship.  World wide SBGi Coaches, Students, Owners, Managers, and family members are making the best of their time, are you?



““Life is like riding a bicycle.

To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

― Albert Einsteincloser to awesom