SBG has a new BJJ black belt!

muay thai portland

In Oct SBG founder Matt Thornton gave his 8th Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt to long time SBG coach John Diggins!

As many of you know, SBG training philosophy is about working the fundamentals and allowing the individual the space to develop his or her own style. When this is done right, and the curriculum is focused on the core of the delivery system, as opposed to a coach trying to teach their own personal style, great athletes and teachers are produced. This process takes time, and in the end the manner in which you roll will reflect your own personality more than any other single factor.

John Diggins is a perfect example of this methodology (as are all of coach Thornton’s black belts). John has always cared more about Jiu Jitsu than he does winning. As a result his rolling style is very relaxed, and super technical. He would rather tap, than muscle something into working. This has allowed him to become a multiple gold medalist in competition, and one of the best training partners you could ask for on the mat. As coach Thornton says, a good black belt’s “style” will be a reflection of their own personaility, and in John’s case, his style reflects the fact that he is a very nice person.

Here is what John had to say after he receieved his belt:

“I’m still absorbing the fact that I am a black belt. I owe a little piece of it to a number of different people. There are techniques and strategies I use from each and every SBG black belt; Karl, John K, John F, Rick and Travis, Cane, Lilly, Steve, Luis and Haueter. Also Priit and of course Chris Stearns who has been a huge motivator for competition and a consistent training partner (get better soon bro!).

Last but of course not least is my coach Matt Thornton who taught me not just Jiu jitsu and MMA but more importantly has taught me how to view the combat arts (among other things). The right approach and understanding fundamentals is an absolute necessity and without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thanks Matt!

There are also many other influences, I can’t name them all, but one I will most certainly not leave out is my favorite person in the whole world Amanda Loewen. Her strength and support have been unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend. And of course it doesn’t hurt that she is a complete bad ass at jiu jitsu! I love you babe! Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments, texts, etc. Looking forward to the future of this journey!”

Here is what coach Thornton had to say:

“Today was an emotional day for me. I was extremely proud to give out my 8th BJJ black belt, to coach John Diggins. John wrestled over 50 people for over two consecutive hours, and only tapped a couple of times at the very end, against the higher belts. His performance was nothing less than an amazing display or pure, technical Jiu-Jitsu. It was without a doubt the most impressive ironman I have ever seen, and it was an honor to be present for it.
The fact that John could do that was a direct by product of the approach I have observed him take to BJJ over the years. He cares more about being technical than he does about winning, and that is what makes him so hard to beat, and such a great training partner. We can all learn a little more of that from John, myself included.
Please welcome SBG’s newest black belt, John Diggins!”
-Team SBG