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