The Gorilla Press, Issue 115

Stella Davison Receives Judo Promotion

Congratulations to Stella Davison, who last month received the honor of being  awarded her 1st Grade (Ikkyu) Brown belt certificate. The promotion is well deserved. Stella has been tearing up the competition on a national level for the last two years, becoming a two time Washington state IJF Junior champion (2018 & 2019) and 2019 US National Brown Belt Champion in the last year. Stella’s Coach Sean Saadi said this about her progress:

“Congratulations Stella Davison. I am very proud of you and your accomplishments. I look forward to watching your continued growth in Judo and life.”

Matt’s Seminar Tour Continues

August and September saw Matt Thornton earning himself more air miles as he carried on his global Survive & Escape seminar series! This time, Matt jetted off to Georgia for a seminar with the folks at SBG Athens and Buford. As we near the end of 2019, grab the chance to attend one of Matt Thornton’s seminars. Matt has been working his Survive and Escape seminar since the beginning of the year, and with each iteration it becomes more concise, building on lessons learned from previous seminars. Don’t miss out if you get the opportunity!

SBG President, Matt Thornton, also headed over to Europe to attend the SBG Ireland camp in August. The camp also coincided with the grand opening of SBG Ireland’s newest and largest facility to date! SBG Ireland is truly leading the way when it comes to BJJ and MMA coaching.

Fight Like A Girl!

The team at SBG Edmonton have added a brand new video to their Youtube page. In the video “Fight Like A Girl” some of the female members of the gym discuss how BJJ has positively impacted their lives and how SBG has provided them with a space to train and learn together. They also encourage any woman who is considering exploring BJJ to find a welcoming gym and then go for it, because it has incredible positive benefits for those who train.

The Davisons On Cleared Hot

Growing Gorillas Owners and Coaches Kisa and Travis Davison were on the Cleared Hot podcast with @andystumpf212 in early August to talk about parenting, BJJ, adversity, and parenting. The pair discuss the importance of challenging your kids as they go through their young lives. At some point your child is going to leave the nest, and if you’ve never taught them to deal with adversity they are going to have a rude awakening. Check it out on wherever you get your podcasts!

SBG Student On The Positive Impact of the SBG Community

SBG Student Marc Anthony took to Facebook to say thanks to the SBG community for all the help they inadvertently provided to help improve his life and health:

“A little over a month ago, my doctor told me that I had high blood pressure. I was at 134/102 which scared the living shit out of me. In almost two months, I brought my blood pressure down to a HEALTHY 122/78!!! I couldn’t have done it without the help of my coaches Ethan BuckAmanda LoewenJohn DigginsZach Thornton, and Mike Haller. I owe you all my life. My wife and sons lives will inevitably be better with all of your help and training. I will be turning 40 in just a few months and am dedicating the rest of the time I have on this planet to my family. Here’s to being the a strong father, husband, son, brother, nephew, friend and training partner! ??????”

BJJ: The Answer To The Problem of Gaining A Social Life In Adulthood

The Jiu jitsu times recently shared an article about how more and more adults are struggling to maintain meaningful friendships.

Modern life can certainly be isolating, and it is increasingly hard for adults to make new friends after college. One way around that, if to sign up at your local BJJ gym.

BJJ can help people not just in terms of health, but by allowing people from all walks of life to interact, they find themselves building deeper, longer lasting bonds than the usual after work drinks with co-workers.

SBG PDX student, Franklin Gilbert, confirmed this theory, after a birthday spent rolling with team mates:

“Birthday 2nd Half. This part was….I cant even put words to it. I just have the absolute best Tribe!! Spending my day at Straight Blast was the best choice I could have made. How I spend my birthday part 2. Birthday rolls and sillyness. I told the photographer, “I do not want any ‘I’m a badass’ pictures.
I want the honest sweat, work, smiles, hugs and laughs with my friends.” I got all I could ever ask of exactly that here.

I don’t like tagging people, but, a ton of you are on here, and I would love it if you tagged you.

10 years ago I started some needed changes to better align with the positvity, honesty and power of the universe. I still work on it every day. But, the work of 5 of those years brought me to SBG and these very special people.”

SBG Alabama Athletes Chasing UFC Gold

SBG teammates Eryk Anders and Walt Harris both had a positive summer in their pursuit of UFC title hardware. Middleweight Eryk Anders returned to winning ways at the end of June with an emphatic KO victory over Vinicius Moreira Castro. The win adds a mark in the Win column after a tough run of three tough, closely fought losses, and will start another push up the middleweight rankings.

Meanwhile, heavyweight Walt Harris continued his march up the rankings to 11 with a staggering 12 second knock out of veteran fighter Alexey Oleynik. The KO was one of the fastest in UFC history, beating the former record holder and fellow SBG athlete Conor McGregor’s 13 second KO of Jose Aldo. Harris will now step up to take on MMA legend Alistair Overeem in an attempt to break into the top 10.

Good luck to both SBG Alabama athletes! The whole tribe is excited to see what’s next for you both!

Jon Frankl In Montana

When the tribe comes together, they make each other better people and the world a better place. ? This past weekend dozens of SBG students from our gyms throughout North America gathered to improve themselves but they didn’t stop there! ? They are sporting these limited edition SBG Korea ?? shirts custom-made by Anna Frankl. ? Proceeds will benefit HOPE Kids, an organization that serves underprivileged, multi-cultural kids in South Korea AND will go toward purchasing gis for kids training with Coach Frankl Jr. ? It’s one thing to become the best version of yourself. It’s another to give others the opportunity to do the same. ? We are SO grateful to the members of our big-hearted and generous tribe who supported the cause! ??

Here’s Jon Frankl on the topic of SBG Camps. Registration for SBG’s Fall Camp is now open at

SBG Edmonton Rolls In The Park

Intent on making the most of the last days of summer in Canada, SBG Edmonton took to the local park  on a recent Sunday, laid out a mat, and enjoy some fun rolls in the open air! The social event was followed by a bonfire and BBQ to close out a lovely day of fun!

New Black Belts & Brown Belts At SBG

“This was another incredible night for SBG East Coast.

Tonight I had the great joy and honor of awarding my second Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Mike Bromberg; Brown Belts to Jacob Weeks, Steve Botelho, Kasey Botelho, and Bob Andersen; and Blue Belts to Steve Waratuke, Tim Connelly, and Roger Santos. Students ranging from just-turned 16 years old to their mid-40s. Across the board, their Jiu-Jitsu was extremely impressive in every area of the game.

I’m extremely grateful to have had such a massive representation from the Tribe tonight to participate in this epic Ironman and promotions. For those unfamiliar, the Ironman is a tradition for colored belt promotions where everyone being promoted trains with all their coaches and training partners before being awarded their new belts. It’s a powerful and meaningful way to bring everyone together – representative not only of our students’ exception skill, but also of the fact that it takes a tribe for anyone to become proficient in this art.

I am proud beyond words of each of the new belts tonight, but for now a brief history and a few special words about our newest black belt…

When I first opened the academy (originally called Nexus Martial Arts before we took the name Straight Blast Gym East Coast) here in Wareham back in January of 2007, I left all my Boston area students with my good friend John Connors, and a number of them have gone on to become black belts under John.

When you move to a different area and open up an academy, for the most part it’s hitting the reset button and building a whole new crop of students from scratch. I awarded my first home grown black belt to John Murphy a little over 3 years ago, and tonight Mike became my second.

When he started with us, he was only 16 or 17 years old. Over the past 11 years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him grow into an exceptional coach, athlete, and role model in his own right. More importantly, I’ve seen him grow to become a man of exceptional integrity. He is a true exemplar of what a Jiu-Jitsu black belt should be.” – Stephen Whittier

Old School Jiu Jitsu On Teaching

‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach’

I’ve always found this adage troubling.

Certainly the world is full of charlatans. Those who teach without knowledge are indeed frauds. Great teachers know through study and experience, their wisdom gained from doing, or having done.

A teacher isn’t one who cannot act. Rather he acts through his students, and his students’ students. True teaching is ‘doing’ amplified and extended across time.

Pic – Ivan Gomes, Carlson Gracie, and Helio Gracie exchange techniques (1964)

SBG Medals At IBJJF Worlds

Congratulations to all the SBG athletes who competed at the recent IBJJF World Championships. SBG black belt Leah Taylor added to her collection of IBJJF World Championship gold medals, a collection that started at blue belt, as she stood on top of the podium in the IBJJF Masters World in Las Vegas last month. Leah took to Facebook to reminisce about her journey to this point.

“Thank you to my teammates, friends, family, and especially my coach @travis.davison.35 for the training and support! ??? Coach Travis has been with me for every major competition since white belt (11 years). He leaves his family, businesses, and personal life regularly to support his athletes. I am very grateful that he is always in my corner. I couldn’t ask for more devoted coach. He has helped me become a better person as well as a better athlete.

I always reflect after these competitions that I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

Masters 2 Champ! I had one opponent in my weight. I finally broke the curse of the black belt absolute and won one match in that division as well!! I definitely left with some things to work on as usual.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum in the IBJJF Kids Championships, young Makenzie Westphal took home an impressive silver medal on one of the biggest stages a kid can compete on in the world of jiu jitsu! Congratulations Makenzie! Awesome job!

Henry Akins Seminar At SBG Portland

Rickson Gracie’s fastest ever black belt, Henry Akins, visited the SBG HQ for a seminar in August. The seminar was an amazing success, and everyone left with a greater understanding of the art of BJJ!
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