Frequently Asked Questions
What will I be learning at SBGi Portland?
- Our grappling program is currently split evenly between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (while wearing a Gi or Kimono) and Submission Wrestling (grappling without the Gi).
- Our MMA program consists of a combination of stand up (boxing/kickboxing), clinch (wrestling/muay thai) and ground (BJJ/submission wrestling).
- Our stand up program consists of top-level boxing training, along with kickboxing.
The main training philosophy of SBGi is known as Aliveness. For a detailed article explaining Aliveness, click here!
The martial arts world is filled with a lot of myths, and complete misconceptions. Here are a list of a few of those myths that was written 15 years ago by SBGi founder Matt Thornton. It helps detail some of the differences you might find between a typical SBG class, and a many traditional martial arts:
Typical experiences at classic martial arts schools:
Most Martial Arts schools practice a form of training sometimes referred to as one and two step sparring. What this means is that your partner will pretend to attack you with a prearranged move and you will then respond with a prearranged move. Keep in mind that in a street fight your attacker will never attack you with a prearranged move. And he most definitely will not "dummy" for you so that you can look good.
The typical class in most Martial Arts schools might consist of the student practicing a prearranged "dance" by themselves, in the air (forms). Then progress on to one and two step sparring against a cooperative opponent. This is what we call training a "dead" pattern. Finally, after a while, the student might be allowed to engage in "free sparring" against another opponent. Unfortunately, even this free sparring almost always involves a very restrictive set of rules, which eliminates full contact, leg kicks, face punching, knees, elbows, headbutts, tackles, and all forms of ground fighting. In short, it is all as far away from a street fight as one can get.
Myth 1: You must use honoring titles such as Sifu, Guru, Sensei,.... in order to maintain the proper sense of respect in school.
This is one of the most pervasive habits in the martial arts, and goes back to the military style of training we will discuss later. Your students should be quiet and respectful when you are teaching because they are there to learn and genuinely respect you, not because they have to refer to you by a title from a different language. the kind of students who are impressed or motivated by these types of titles are not the kind of students we want at the gym.
Myth 2: You must teach your classes by having your students line up and grunt acknowledgments in unison.
This myth long associated with the more traditional martial art steams from teaching methods derived from military. What most traditional Japanese martial arts consider to be Budo training methods, are nothing but. During the era of Samurai and warrior class of Japan, men and women trained in a very efficient, aggressive, and by today's standards what would be considered "informal" way.
When World War II broke out Japan no longer had an exclusive military class. What they were in need of was a large military force. In order to create such a force soldiers would have to be drawn from all segments of society. The Samurai who never needed to be yielded at or prodded to train for combat, were replaced by merchants, farmers and tradesmen. Budo (the warrior way) was replaced by drill sergeants, straight lines of soldiers repeating the same moves in unison, yelling, titles of rank and a military style of teaching designed for people who were thought as too inept to learn the traditional way.It is time to throw all this away. There are much better ways to teach, and learn.
Myth 3: You must not give your students too much information, too fast, because "if you sell all the merchandise on your shelves no one will come back to the store."
This is perhaps the stupidest myth associated with "martial" arts. It may apply to a teacher of forms and techniques, but should never be a concern to a fighter. If it is then you lack the most valuable commodities -- real life experience and imagination. How can you run out of things to learn and train an art that has no boundaries.
Myth 4: You must teach a lot of information at once or your students will get bored.
This myth is true if you are teaching a crop of students who measure their progress by the accumulation of techniques and the size of their note books.
~ Matt Thornton
Myth 5: You must not associate with your students in an informal way or they will lose their respect for you.
The kind of students who would lose interest in training because they realize that their instructor is a mortal human being, is not the kind of students we want at SBGi. You must know your students well in order to motivate them well. Part of being a great coach is in understanding what makes each athlete a bit different. At SBGi, we are all students taking this journey together. And because we do is real, there is no need for the false personas so often found in the fantasy based traditional martial arts.
Myth 6: You should refer to people differently depending on whether they are "senior" or "junior" in your art.
This myth demonstrates the dramatic difference between false humility and authentic humility. A beggar will bow down and scrape the floor for any man he deems to be greater than him; but at the same time he will demand that any man he deems to be lesser, bow down and scrape the floor for him. At SBGi we would never ask you to bow down before any man, and we don't allow any man to bow down before us.
Myth 7: Women should not train realistically, especially not with men.
SBGi is the home of some of the top female fighters in the world! We have proven not just that women can do functional martial arts, but rather, that women can excel at them!However, not everyone wants to compete. Most women do martial arts in order to gain some experience in self-defense. Attacked by a man, there is much higher probability for a woman to be taken to the ground than there is for a man. That's a simple question of size and strength. And in that situation it is of crucial importance for a woman to know how to defend herself. When fighting with a larger and stronger male on the ground, the use of proper technique is her only chance to escape or even save her life. The technique does not come by itself, it must be learned during the realistic training.For a recent interview by Yael Grauer where women in MMA is discussed click here.
~ Bruce Lee
Do I need to have experience to participate?
No experience is required in order to participate in our classes. Just come to the school with an open mind and be prepared to sweat and have some fun. If however, you do have martial arts/wrestling or boxing experience, it will almost certainly be an asset. Since our gym focuses on the fundamentals, all the classes will be valuable for beginners.What equipment do I require?For MMA or boxing class a gym shirt and shorts or sweats is appropriate. For added safety a mouthguard for men and women is required. For Jiu-Jitsu class a grappling "Gi" or uniform is required. Various qualities of these can be purchased through our gym's ProShop.
What can I expect to do in classes?
The nice thing about BJJ is that everyone can start "rolling" on day one. With BJJ and grappling, classes typically begin with an effective warm-up focusing on "sport-specific" movements and drills. Students will then typically be led through various positioning and submission drills, progressing to live grappling. Come prepared for a fun, safe workout.
With the MMA, boxing and clinch classes you can expect to work with various types of equipment such as focus mitts, thai pads, and heavy bags.
Can I compete? Do I have to compete?
You will never have to compete in tournaments. Our belief at the Portland Gym is that this is a personal decision you should make for yourself. However, the opportunity will exist for those who are interested in such an activity. And we will be here to help you along the way if you decide it is something you would like to try.
Grappling competitions are becoming much more common and typically have many divisions so that students are competing only against people of comparable skill and size.
For MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) the Portland Gym has Oregon's oldest competition team, with an impressive record of consistent wins over the last fifteen years. If you are interested in fighting MMA you will need to ask about getting into team practice. There is no additional charge for the practices, but they are invitation only, and all fights are arranged by the team coaches.
What are the different belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Students begin as a White Belt and then work towards earning their Blue, Purple, Brown and then ultimately their Black Belt. Progress from rank to rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is typically much slower than in other systems. When a student can consistently hold his/her own with students of the next higher rank they are likely ready to move on. For additional info on our take regarding BJJ belts at SBGi we suggest reading this comprehensive articleon the subject, written by SBGi founder Matt Thornton.
How does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu differ from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu?
In 1917 a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master named Mitsuo Maeda (called Count Koma, meaning Count of Combat) came to Brazil. In return for help from the Brazilian politician Gastao Gracie, Koma volunteered to teach Jiu-Jitsu to Gastao's son Carlos. Carlos in turn taught his brothers (most notably Helio). They went on to further refine the art via constant no-rules competition, developing what is now known as Brazilian or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Whereas Japanese Jiu-Jitsu includes many "stand up" skills, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner's strategy is to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible and work for control from there. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not based on strength; it uses the opponent's strength and force against themselves. The key is balance (known as "base") and leverage. Typical positions include the "guard", the "mount", and the "side-mount", from which a host of attacks can be made, such as chokes, arm-bars, and joint-locks.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has shown itself to be one of the most effective Martial Arts systems ever created, and it is an absolute must for those people interested in competing in MMA.
How much do lessons cost?
How much is the tuition?This is everyone's favorite question. Fees vary from program to program and how they are paid for effects the bottom line as well.
To get you started on the right foot, you can visit our school FREE of charge, take a tour and speak to one of our representatives who will lead you in the right direction.
Call us at (503) 230-7924 to set up an appointment to visit us.
For more info on the SBGi Portland check out our blog and view the media page.