Who Is SBG

Coaches of SBGi Portland

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Head Coach of SBGi and

Owner/Master Instructor of SBGi Portland

Matt Thornton

Matt Thornton



Matt Thornton bio-

Qualifications, Publications / References:

Having been introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 1991, Matt Thornton was part of an early group of Americans to become involved in the art. He was also the first person from the State of Oregon to receive a black belt.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) gained popularity after the airing of the first UFC on November 12, 1993. It was at that time BJJ became the focal point of what is now considered Mixed Martial Arts.

As a teacher Matt produced a video in 1999 titled, “Aliveness”. It went on to become one of the top sellers of all time in the martial arts community. The tapes set off a firestorm of controversy, and remain a central catalyst in the Martial Arts training revolution still taking place all over the world. They were voted as one of the top five self-defense videos of all time by Black Belt magazine.

Martial Arts video reviews said:

“If you buy only one set of videos this year, let these be the ones. If you believe that there has been an evolutionary development in the martial arts over the last few decades, from Bruce Lee to the Gracies to the all-round fighters of then you will want to see these tapes. If you have to sell your body to medical science or your sister to an Arab oil sheik, buy these tapes!”

Matt’s first series still remains a top seller, and has sold in over 70 countries.

As a coach he has awarded ten of his own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts. The list includes: Famed UFC coach, and father of MMA in Ireland, John Kavanagh; the UK’s most successful MMA coach, Karl Tanswell; as well as other great teachers, competitors, and trainers of champions.

Over the decades Matt has worked with some of the best MMA fighters, grapplers, and combat athletes in the world. This list includes UFC hall of famers Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, and others. He also responsible for producing Oregon’s first and presently only, Mundials world champion.

“The training with Matt Thornton, and SBG has been instrumental in my preparation for reality fighting in the UFC. Matt’s expertise in stand-up and ground fighting techniques has helped me win the Ultimate Fighting Championships.” Randy Couture (UFC Legend)

Matt has been hired to teach seminars on functional martial arts all across the globe, including: Germany, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Reunion Island, Thailand and France, to name a few.
In addition, he was the first Instructor to bring the arts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA to both Reunion Island, as well as the Nation of Iceland; where he met his wife, Salome.

In 1993 Matt received his blue belt from the legendary Rickson Gracie. He met his main coach, Chris Haueter the same year. Chris is part of an elite group, known in the BJJ community, as the “dirty dozen”. These are the first twelve Americans to earn a black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Matt appreciated Chris’ conceptual and no nonsense approach. Chris became a regular guest in Oregon for seminars and training. Matt’s school, SBG, became Oregon’s first MMA style gym. Eventual spin offs included Team Quest, Impact Jiu-Jitsu, Nemesis Academy and many more.

Chris Haueter awarded Matt his purple, brown, and in 2001, his black belt.

In addition to running his own Academy in Portland, Oregon for over twenty years, Matt is Head Coach of Straight Blast Gym International (SBGi); an organization comprised of over forty affiliate gyms in more than eleven countries. His duties include coaching top-tier athletes and giving workshops on Aliveness around the world. This has allowed Matt to opportunity to write and be published in martial arts publications such as: Black Belt magazine, Inside Kung Fu, Martial Arts Legends, Fighters, Martial Arts Illustrated, and many more.

NY Times best selling author Sam Harris said:

“Matt Thornton is one of the clearest Martial Arts instructors I have come across.”

Matt’s main emphasis over the last decade has been addressing superstition as it relates to the fields of sports training, combat sports, and martial arts. The methodology known as aliveness was designed as a tool to help people distinguish between fact and fiction.

In the past few years his writing has branched off into other areas. He is currently working on a book covering the topic of violence and its relationship to both combat sports and skepticism.




SBGi Portland Head Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and Boxing Coach-

Rick Davison:

Rick DavisonRick Davison started with SBG in 1998 along with his brother Travis. Both Rick and Travis had seen Royce Gracie take on all competitors at the first UFC’s and wanted to experience for themselves what this art was all about. Neither has looked back since. Travis has gone on to run SBG Montana, while Rick has divided his time between competing MMA and teaching on a regular basis at the Portland Gym. Rick’s MMA classes are always well received due in part to the high level of individual attention he gives his students, and his educated eye.

  • BJJ black belt
  • Member of Competition Team (MMA)
  • Graduated the ICC program in 2000
  • MMA Competition Team Captain
  • SBGi Student Since 1998





SBGi Portland Head Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach-

Cane Prevost:

Cane PrevostCane Prevost is widely considered one of Portland’s top coaches.  His ability to break down BJJ to it’s core fundamentals and impart that to the his students is second to none. Cane’s posture – pressure – possibilities teaching model has been adopted by the entire SBG organization worldwide, and is now the common format used in places like the UK, Ireland, Sweden and everywhere the SBG exists. If your new to BJJ, or your an advanced student looking to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu then Cane’s classes are something you wont want to miss.


(CLICK HERE) Check out Cane’s Blog The Gentle Art: designed to share ideas about effective coaching and learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jutsu. Cane will be sharing lessons, curriculum, advice and other things that he has learned and develop as both a coach and student.


  • BJJ black belt
  • Jiu Jitsu Coaching Pioneer
  • Beginning Author of the Three P’s of Jiu Jitsu as a Coaching Method
  • Received SBGi Instructors certificate in 2007
  • Received the Tier 5 Master Instructor Certificate in 2012
  • SBGi Student Since 2001




SBGi Portland Head Jiu Jitsu and MMA Coach-

John Diggins:

John DigginsJohn began training at the Portland SBG in 2003. He had a Greco-roman wrestling background prior to that. He received his brown belt in 2010, and has gone on to win multiple gold medals and first place finishes in both gi, and no-gi competition. As well as having several MMA fights.  Diggins has up to today’s date of 11/13/13 been undefeated in all his black belt super fights.   He has also gone on to win Gold in the IBJJF Las Vegas Open Absolute division.

  • BJJ black belt
  • Member of Competition Team (MMA)
  • UA Coach
  • Competition Team Captain (BJJ)
  • SBGi Student Since 2003



SBGi Portland Head Jiu Jitsu Coach-

Amanda Loewen:

Amanda Diggins

Amanda Loewen(Diggins) started training in 2009. She is an avid competitor as well as a full time coach at Straight Blast Gym’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Amanda quit her job and schooling to do Jiu Jitsu Full time. She took gold at the Vegas open in absolute in 2013 against the current (at the time) IBJJF world champion. She then went on to take 2nd at Worlds only a few months after being promoted. Amanda is a great coach and competitor with a bright future ahead of her


  • BJJ black belt
  • Member of Competition Team (MMA)
  • CAP Jiu Jitsu, BootCamp, and Little Explorers Coach
  • Competition Team Captain (BJJ)
  • SBGi Student Since 2009



SBGi Portland Head Boxing Coach-

Brian Walsh:

Brian Walsh

Brian received his SBGi Instructors certificate in 2007 and is a regular feature at the Portland Gym. As head stand up Coach for the MMA team Brian’s lifetime of boxing knowledge is put to good use by Portland’s competitors. In addition to working with the team Brian can often be found helping regular students daily at the Gym. It’s not uncommon to walk in and see him working on the sidelines with new members, holding mitts for them, and helping them learn the proper mechanics of stand up in a safe, sane, and smart way.

  • Head boxing Coach for the MMA Comp Team
  • Instructors certificate in 2007
  • Olympic Boxing Coach
  • SBGi Students Since 2004