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!

Zach “Knock Out of the Year” Moore Does It Again!

Zach “Knock Out of the Year” Moore Does It Again!


SBG Portland’s Moore Wins By TKO At Roseland

Back in 2016, SBG Portland’s Zach Moore made his MMA debut at the Roseland Theater in emphatic fashion. Taking on a fellow debutante, Moore showed superiority on the feet and on the ground before dropping his opponent in the middle of the third round with a smart right cross. As 2016 came to a close, it was revealed by the fight promoter FCFF, that the fight and knock-out had earned Zach the award for “KO of the Year”! What a way to make your MMA debut!

scoutmooreKOComing off the back of that announcement, Zach Moore stepped into the cage again last week, and his sophomore outing did not disappoint! Despite a last minute change of opponent, the result was the same, with Zach dispatching him by TKO in the second round. Coached by SBG Portland’s MMA Competition Team Coach Rick Davison and Striking Coach Brian Walsh, Zach showed a high level of professionalism and technical acumen that allowed him to win comfortably while absorbing almost no damage. Zach is an incredible student, coach and human being who everyone at SBG Portland is proud to train along side. Congratulations to Zach and his coaches on both the KO of the Year, and another incredible performance – looks like that award may be staying with Zach for at least another year!

New Instructor Training Program AT SBG Portland

New ITP At SBG Portland


The Instructor Training Program Returns

SBG has been a global leader in innovative martial arts training for 25 years. In that time, the SBG banner has spread across all continents, and in BJJ and MMA alike, is truly a symbol of excellence. What sets SBG apart, and ensures the highest quality of coaching throughout its affiliates, is its simple but effective approach, a focus on fundamentals, and its ability to provide a clear way for all coaches to instruct effectively. This is achieved through SBG’s Instructor Training Program.

The Instructor Training Program Level 1 at SBG Portland is a two month program that provides students with the essential knowledge to become an assistant coach with the organization. The program shows effective approaches to coaching, and is not just specific to BJJ, stand up, or MMA, but instead transcends any one discipline! ITP breaks instruction down to its core elements. Like with all things, SBG is driven to find the fundamentals! The program is not just classwork, listening to tedious lectures and taking notes. It is extremely hands-on from day one, and really encourages all students to step out of their comfort zone and get used to public speaking and presenting in front of a group of peers. It not only teaches you to coach, but develops confidence and leadership skills, while providing with constructive feedback in a supportive environment!

The ITP at SBG Portland will be led once again by Chris Stearns and John Mertlich. Two wonderful SBG coaches and familiar faces to anyone who has spent much time at SBG Portland. With over a decade of coaching experience between them, as well as multiple, successful ITP courses, students really couldn’t be in better hands.

This year’s ITP Level 1 course runs from XX March to XX April, and is open to any SBG student who has graduated their Foundations class. If you have ever had aspirations of coaching in the future, want to challenge yourself and gain confidence speaking in public, or want to gain a greater understanding of how SBG’s approach to coaching works, then the Instructor Training Program is for you. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn the essence of what makes SBG’s approach so great! Contact Zach Thornton or visit the SBG Portland front desk for more information and to sign up today!



Two Incredible Seminars Coming Soon

Two Incredible Seminars Coming Soon


John Frankl & John Kavanagh Seminars At SBG Portland

In the coming weeks, SBG Portland has something very special in store. On Monday 30th January, and the weekend of February 4th & 5th, the SBG HQ welcomes two of the most highly respected coaches in not just SBG, but perhaps the BJJ and MMA world! Over three days of seminars, Portland plays host to none other than John Frankl and John Kavanagh!

John Frankl will be showing material over the course of two, three-hour sessions on Saturday 4th February and Sunday 5th February, while John Kavanagh will be hosting a two hour seminar on Monday 30th January.
John Frankl has been associated with SBG for well over ten years, has been training in BJJ since 1990 and received his BJJ black belt in 2002. He has been coaching students for decades, starting even before opening his own John Frankl BJJ academy back in 1999. He introduced the sport of BJJ to South Korea, where today he runs a number of academies across the country, while also teaching as a university professor.

John Frankl’s combination of BJJ black belt and university professor allows for an intelligent, scientific approach to the sport, whiles always striving to make it applicable to all levels of student. If you’ve never experienced a John Frankl seminar, you have definitely been missing out, and shouldn’t waste this great opportunity.

Even rarer than the presence of John Frankl, is the chance to learn from John Kavanagh. BJJ black belt, former pro MMA fighter, founder of SBG Ireland, and of course, coach to UFC fighters such as Aisling Daly, Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor, John Kavanagh is a legend in SBG, and one of the most highly respected coaches in the world. Now a household name, John Kavanagh’s schedule rarely allows him the opportunity to travel to Portland. In fact, this seminar is happening as part of just a one day stay in town! Coach to some of the best fighters in the world, John Kavanagh still adheres to the SBG focus on fundamentals. Just as he coaches the likes of Conor McGregor, he will also bring invaluable knowledge to impart on BJJ and MMA beginners.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! Contact Zach Thornton at the SBG Portland HQ and sign up now. Special price for signing up for both seminars.

Hamilton Ash Seminar This Week

Hamilton Ash Seminar This Week


Two-Day Ash Seminar At SBG PDX

At the end of this month, SBG Portland hosts SBG’s newest BJJ black belt and pro MMA fighter, Hamilton Ash, for a two day seminar. So start the new year off the right way, by attending a four section seminar that will cover the entire spectrum of martial arts; from BJJ on the mats, to MMA, to self defense! The seminar takes place over the weekend of December 31st and January 1st, and with so much knowledge up for grabs, is not to be missed! Here is what will be covered over the two days:

Section 1: Guard for Self Defense

Saturday 31st Dec, 10AM – 12PM

Section 2: Striking & Using It To Create Opportunities

Saturday 31st Dec, 1PM – 3PM

Section 3: Clinch for Self-Defense & the Cage

Sunday 1st Jan, 10AM – 12PM

Section 4: Destroying Closed Guard

Sunday 1st Jan, 1PM – 3PM

Who is Hamilton Ash?

Hamilton Ash is not only Matt Thornton’s newest BJJ black belt, but also an exciting pro MMA fighter with a host of impressive stoppage wins, and titles, to his name. After spells training in Portland, Montana and Iceland, Hamilton has spent the past few years opening and running the SBG North facility in Whitefish, MT with huge success. Just last month, Hamilton competed for, and won, the lightweight title with Montana promotion Backflips & Beatdowns, following on from victory in the main event of a Kalispell Kombat card one month prior. Both wins came by submission, and both showed Hamilton’s superior fighting style and intelligence, with Ash able to control the fight throughout and win without taking and punishment himself.

Don’t let your busy holiday schedule keep you from this seminar. Not only is Hamilton Ash an amazing athlete, fighter, and BJJ practitioner, but an wonderful example of what it means to be part of the tribe; humble and thankful with every step towards success, and always looking to give back. If you can’t attend all four sections of the seminar, or if you don’t feel some sections will be applicable to you, you can pick and choose which you attend.

To register, call SBG Portland today at (503) 230-7924. SBG Portland is also running their annual Oregon Food Bank food drive, and discounts will be offered for the seminar for those that donate enough cans, so bring in as many as you can!

Diggins Wins At SUG 2

Diggins Wins At SUG 2


John Diggins Wins In 59 Seconds At SUG 2

Last weekend, the Roseland Theater played host to the second Submission Underground event, in Portland, OR. The event saw household MMA names such as Jon Jones, Dan Henderson and Meisha Tate gracing the main card of a submission grappling event under EBI rules. But headlining the undercard was SBG Portland’s very own John Diggins. Coach Diggins was competing in one of the few gi matches on the card against fellow local black belt KC Thompson, and it took less than a minute for the SBG coach to submit his opponent. Pulling guard before sweeping and coming up on top, Diggins quickly rolled into a knee bar and got the tap in a mere 59 seconds.

The win wasn’t the first time this year that a Diggins has impressed at the Roseland. This July, Amanda Diggins competed in the first Submission Underground event and won in equally emphatic style, tapping her own opponent within the opening minutes via toe hold. Submission Underground, presented by Chael Sonnen and streamed live on, is an exciting development in the ever growing sport of submission grappling, and it is awesome to see two of SBG’s finest black belt competitors featuring on the first two cards. That said, with multiple IBJJF world championship medals between them, and two comfortable submission wins to their names at the SUG events, one can only hope it isn’t long before we see both of them gracing the main card.

Congratulations to Coach John Diggins on his win! The students at SBG Portland couldn’t be prouder! As the coach in charge of SBG Portland’s BJJ competition team, it is always thrilling to see you leading from the front and diving into any challenge put before you, no matter the stage.

2017 SBG Spring Camp Open

2017 SBG Spring Camp Open


Early Registration for 2017 SBG Spring Camp is now open!

This year’s SBG Fall Camp was one of the greatest yet. Not only in terms of location, set in the beautiful Berkeley, CA and hosted by the wonderful Lily and Alan Pagle, but in terms of instruction, as coaches went to new levels to simplify the essential elements of BJJ and martial arts in each of their sessions. This lead to improved understanding and accessibility for all in attendance. Those who missed it, indeed, missed out. But if you are one of those unlucky souls, despair not! The great thing about SBG’s training camp set-up is that we are never more than a few months from the next one! Just this week, early registration has opened for the SBG Spring Camp 2017!

The 2017 SBG Spring Camp will be held in Niagara Falls, Canada. The event will be hosted by SBG Niagara, in partnership with SBG Toronto and SBG Scarborough, and held on the weekend of March 31 – April 2, 2017. Each Camp seems to be better than the last, and that can be of little surprise, as with each camp, the whole tribe grows, learns and refines its approach to the martial arts. Still unconvinced? Read SBG Portland Coach and Black Belt Cane Prevost’s review of the last camp:

“What struck me most was how little (in terms of material) that everyone taught and how much (in terms of knowledge) I gained. As simple as possible but no simpler. This was a giant step forward for the tribe. You will see the effects of this focus on the why instead of the how ripple throughout the organization with astonishing results. It’s the next step in the evolution of SBG and I’m ever grateful to have been there to see it blossom.”

Sign up now for the 2017 Spring Camp! Be sure to sign up early, as prices will go up before you know it. You won’t regret it, learning from the greatest coaches the SBG universe has to offer, for a full weekend, in a beautiful part of the world! Sign up today!

Huge Medal Haul At Revolution XXXII

Huge Medal Haul At Revolution XXXII


SBG Wins 28 Medals At Revolution XXXII in Tacoma

Last weekend saw SBG athletes from across the Northwest make the trip to Tacoma, WA for the last Revolution BJJ tournament of the year. Teams from Portland, Idaho, Montana and Burien all represented SBG on the mats and on the podium, with medal winners spanning from the Advanced Absolute division all the way down to six to eight year old beginners. The breadth and depth of talent on display shows not just that SBG is home to elite athletes, but that those athletes are becoming first class coaches raising an exciting new generation of talent.

In all, SBG won 28 medals; 13 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze. The team as a whole took third in the Adult No Gi Team standings, fourth in the Overall Team points and fifth in the Youth/Junior Overall. SBG Idaho’s Jesse Brock found himself on the podium three times, winning gold in his brown belt master weight class and Advanced no gi weight class before narrowly missing out in the Absolute No Gi competition and taking second. The always inspiring Stella Davison won three golds; winning both the adult white belt and fourteen year old orange and green weight classes, before taking the adult women’s beginner no-gi competition! SBG Burien’s Joseph Cabaccang was the other SBG athlete to go home with more than one gold to his name, earning impressive victories in the Gray belt 14 & 15 weight class and Intermediate 12 & 14. The other gold medal winners were Michael Maginn, Nathan Vanderven, James Ellis Jr., Dustin Holmes, Andrew Szarkowicz and Lucette Walker. Congratulations to all the gold medal winners on all the hard work and effort that took you to the top of the podium!

Those who won silver and bronze included Aasin Liberato, Kimi Walker, Michael Maginn, Tristan Paulson, Weston Robinson, Grady Robinson (who won two silver medals; one in Gi, one in No Gi!), Nathan Vanderven, Daniel Szarkowicz, Daniel Crawford, Josephine Walker, Isabella Downing and Kai Cabaccang.

Well done to everyone who competed on the day. Whether you won a medal or not, the whole tribe is extremely proud of all your efforts and willingness to test your skills. A special congratulations to all the SBG youth athletes who competed, not only did they win the bulk of SBG’s medals, but they provide constant inspiration for the older generation. Congratulations everyone!

Three No-Gi World Medals for SBG

Three No-Gi World Medals for SBG


Diggins & Loewen Win Three Bronze Medals At IBJJF No-Gi Worlds

This last weekend saw two of SBG Portland’s finest competitors and coaches compete at one of the biggest BJJ tournaments in the world. Black belts Amanda Loewen and John Diggins both competed in their respective weight classes and in the Absolute divisions. They put in a handful of incredible performances on their way to collectively securing three medals from four divisions.

Coach John Diggins displayed excellent jiu jitsu throughout the tournament, winning his first match in his weight class, before narrowly losing his second. The defeat came as a result of a late advantage given to John’s opponent for an attempted ankle lock. The attempt was safely handled by Coach Diggins, but it was enough for his opponent to be handed the win despite John’s own efforts to secure arm bars from off his back. The narrow defeat was enough for John to win the bronze medal in his Master’s weight class.


Coach Amanda Wins Absolute Bronze

Coach Amanda Loewen was disappointed by her loss in her weight class, but, determined to make up for that the next day, performed excellently, winning the first match in the Absolute bracket. Losing her semi-final Absolute match, Amanda came away with another bronze to add to her ever-growing collection of IBJJF medals. Despite being disappointed in her own performance, Coach Amanda had many positives to take from the experience, and her attempt to always seek to win by submission, despite the IBJJF ruleset, is admirable.

Everyone at SBG Portland are hugely proud of the efforts and success of John and Amanda. Both give so much to each and every member of SBG, in Portland and beyond, and it is a huge pleasure to see them compete at the highest level. Congratulations to you both on your great efforts and success!

Afterward the event, Amanda released the following statement on her Facebook Athlete page. Be sure to take the time and Like it if you haven’t already.

“I can go about this a couple different ways, but I’m going to choose to look at the positive. This year I’ve dealt with and overcome some interesting things. I really would have liked to overcome this challenge as well, but I wasn’t able to do that. The me that rolls in the gym, and the me that competes seem to be two different people, mentally that is. I was flattered by @flograppling for mentioning me in their article, but also let the outside pressure get to me. The whole ‘she’s destined to win thing’ which I know is ridiculous, but it was a real thing for me. There was nothing I wanted more this year than to become the no gi World champ. Instead of the ‘oh wells, and I should have dones’, here are several positive things from this weekend:

*Saulo Ribero said “hello champion”, so that pretty much made my weekend. *I got to wear an excellent rash guard made by Hyperfly. The folks that own that company are some of the nicest and positive people I’ve ever met. Thank you. *I was extremely close to toe holding my first opponent and she knew it. Next time I will take the entire foot off. (I only say that because I’ve been working on my leg locks and it felt good to be on the attack vs the defense). *I didn’t get leg locked this year, so that’s cool.

*I tried to submit everyone of my opponents, knowing that this is a specific rule set my objective is to ALWAYS finish. *I got to watch John kill it in his matches, one day I’ll be able to roll as good as him. *Its sunny here.
*I was on the podium twice this year.

Thank you to my students, who always believe in me. Thank you to my coaches who always look beyond my defeats. Thank you to Coach Ryan at New Athlete for the encouragement, the physical improvements and belief that we are better every time. Thanks again to @hyperflylaurenz for the rash guard he gave to John, and just being rad in general. Garden of life, you’ve been amazing in my prep and day to day lifestyle. I couldn’t ask for a better sponsor.”


SBG Idaho Names Continue to Rise

SBG Idaho Names Continue to Rise


SBG Idaho’s Top Athletes Given New Opportunity to Showcase Talents

During the biggest night in Idaho’s MMA history, SBG Idaho found great success. Bellator 155 in Boise saw three of SBG’s biggest names victorious on a global stage. Jesse Brock, competing in his thirtieth professional fight, won via submission, with a third round rear naked choke on opponent Olly Bradstreet. Scott Thometz ground out a comprehensive unanimous decision victory over Josh Tyler. While Veta Arteaga took her young pro record to 2-0 with a decision win with over Jackie Vandenburgh.

Since that night, each fighter’s career has taken an exciting step forward. In July, Jesse Brock’s six fight win streak has seen him sign an exclusive, multi-fight deal with promotion, World Series of Fighting. SBG black belt Scott Thometz has been invited to participate in Proving Grounds, an invitation only BJJ tournament with a cash prize, featuring some of the top BJJ practitioners in the country. The tournament will be submission only using EBI rules. Not only that, but Thometz’s recent success has also seen him given a title shot with local fight promotion, Front Street Fights. He will take on David Castillo (19-8) for the first-ever Front Street Fights lightweight title. Finally, after her successful Bellator debut on the undercard of Bellator 155, Veta Arteaga has earned a spot on the main card of Bellator 161. She will take on Anastasia Yankova (3-0) in Texas on September 16th, and a win will put her name right in line for a potential shot at a Bellator title.

Congratulations to these three athletes. Slowly but surely their years of hard work are paying off with ever increasing recognition. The tribe can’t wait to watch each of their fights, and see them progress ever further. For more news from SBG Idaho, visit