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What is SBG?

SBG is many things. 

A Tribe. A corporation. A set of academies. A cutting edge epistemology.

An ideal.

It is the Muhammad Ali of MMA – as in Conor McGregor.

And it is the 55-year-old woman who will, for the first time in her life, compete in a sporting event under our gorilla graced banner.

It is large professional spaces – as in Oregon, Ireland, England, Montana, and Massachusetts – to name but a few.

And it is also small, more personal communities all across the planet.

At SBG children will find guidance. Young adults will find mentors. Top athletes will find insight.

SBG is home to Mixed Martial Arts superstars, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champions, elite Military and Law Enforcement trainers, hyper talented athletic coaches – and thousands of people just like you.

SBG BJJ MMA Portland


  • SBG has over 50 thriving locations, all over the world, on every continent (except Antarctica), including the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

  • SBG developed innovative programs for every-body – curriculums that cater to regular people just like you, with specialized children’s programs beginning at age 4 – and adult classes for everyone from teenagers to senior citizens.

  • SBG headquarters – where it all began, was the state of Oregon’s first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Academy – and home to the State’s first MMA champions.

  • SBG helped train the first crop of professional MMA fighters and UFC Champions – including MMA legends Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, and many more.

  • SBG is home to the biggest star in MMA history, SBG athlete, Conor McGregor.

  • SBG coach John Kavanagh, was the first BJJ black belt ever in the nation of Ireland and the grandfather of Irish MMA.

  • SBG is home to Europe’s most successful MMA coach, John Kavanagh – Matt’s 2nd black belt.

  • SBG coach Karl Tanswell, Matt’s 3rd BJJ black belt, was one of the first BJJ black belts from the United Kingdom, and one of the UK’s first and best MMA coaches.

  • SBG athlete Saul Rogers, a student of Karl Tanswell’s, made UK history by making it into the TUF finals – and many of Karl’s fighters actively compete at the UFC level.

  • SBG coach John Frankl was the first person to bring the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the nation of Korea – and is currently responsible for the UFC and grappling stars emerging from that Nation.

  • SBG coaches Adam & Rory Singer coached UFC legend, Forrest Griffin, from white belt to Lt Heavyweight champion.

  • SBG founder Matt Thornton has personally taught in over 25 different Nations.

  • SBG founder Matt Thornton was the first person to introduce the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to both Reunion Island, and Iceland – where SBG trained athlete & active UFC fighter, Gunnar Nelson, hails from.

  • SBG has produced the first ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champions (Mundials) from the State of Oregon.

  • SBG is home to world-class coach, head of SBG NorCal, and the oldest women to ever earn a black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Lily Pagle

  • SBG founder Matt Thornton was the first ever Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu black belt in the State of Oregon.


We offer the cutting edge in self-defense, combat athletics, fitness, and personal growth, to every type of human body that walks through our door. Not just 22 Year old Athletes (although they will certainly find their niche here as well), but to professionals who have to work 45 hour weeks, women of all ages, older people looking to get into shape, have fun, and learn self defense, and children of all ages who can learn the Arts in a positive atmosphere of friendship and fun.

SBG isn’t just the best training methods taught by the best coaches to the best professional fighters, like Conor McGregor – SBG is that, yes, but it is also more – much more – SBG is for every-body.


Matt Thornton
Matt ThorntonFounder of SBG International, Master Instructor
Matt Thornton was the first person from the State of Oregon to receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Over the decades Matt has worked with some of the best MMA fighters, grapplers and combat athletes in the world.
Salóme Ás Thornton
Salóme Ás ThorntonYoga Instructor, Co Owner of SBG Portland
I’ve dabbled in BJJ since 2005, where I first met my husband Matt Thornton in Iceland for a seminar. Yoga; I have practiced since I was 10 years old, so 23 years now. I became a certified teacher in 2010 and started Primate Yoga ~ Practical Practice. Honestly though, my true love for movement is derived from dancing and an insatiable quest for understanding body mechanics. My approach to teaching is informative, playful and challenging. My goal is to give people tools to take care of their bodies, motivate them to work hard and not be afraid to fail.
Rick Davison
Rick DavisonHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and Boxing Coach
Rick Davison started with SBG in 1998. Rick has divided his time between competing for MMA and teaching on regular basis. Rick’s MMA classes are always well received due in part to high level of individual attention he gives his students.
Cane Prevost
Cane PrevostHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Cane 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 his students is second to none. Cane’s teaching model has been adopted by SBG organizations worldwide.
John Diggins
John DigginsHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
John began training at SBG Portland in 2003. He has gone on to win multiple gold medals and first-place finishes in both gi and no-gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, as well as having several MMA fights.
Amanda Loewen
Amanda LoewenHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Amanda Loewen started training in 2009. She is an avid competitor as well as full time coach at SBG Portland. She took gold at the Vegas open in absolute in 2013 against the current (at the time) IBJJF world champion and went on to take 2nd at Worlds.
Mark Fisher
Mark FisherBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Mark started training in 2005 and followed to join the SBG Portland headquarters in 2014. He was certified as an instructor twice: once around 2012 and once in 2015 in Portland. He is a teacher by trade and brings a lot of his ideas about teaching from the classroom and especially from the laboratory onto the mat.
Chris Stearns
Chris StearnsHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Chris Stearns joined SBG Portland in winter of 2005. He started coaching his first beginner classes as a blue belt in 2007. At purple belt Chris achieved a bronze medal at the 2012 Pan Ams and was a quarter finalist at the World Championships. He enjoys teaching to both beginners and experienced students a like while focusing on clear presentation and explanation.
Eddie Ziegler
Eddie ZieglerHead Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Coach
Coach Eddie started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 2010, and MMA shortly after. He’s an avid competitor and enjoys teaching both adults and children.
John Mertlich
John MertlichBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Brian Walsh
Brian WalshHead Boxing Coach
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.
Zach Thornton
Zach ThorntonBrazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Coach
Coach Zach Thornton started training based on SBG videos back in 2002, while his training officially started in 2011. He is coaching at the SBG HQ since 2012 and has graduated SBGI’s first ever ITP level 1 and ITP level 2.
Justin Abbot
Justin AbbotBrazilian Jiu Jitsu and Striking Coach
Justin Abbott started training at SBG in 2010. Justin coaches both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Striking classes with a focus on the fundamental principals of the art.
Destiny Abbot
Destiny AbbotBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Destiny Abbott started training in spring of 2012. She received her first coaching certification from SBG in May of 2014 and the advanced certification in 2016. Coach Destiny focuses on fundamentals and functional movements as she enjoys the process of discovery and sharing that with her students.
Andrew Kritzer
Andrew KritzerBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Coach Andrew started training at SBG in late 2013 , after sporadic training stints in sport Karate, submission grappling and wrestling in high school. He received his coaching credentials from SBG in 2014. As a coach Coach Andrew values intention, consistency and humility. As an individual he could be described as jovial and high energy.
Dirt Deodara
Dirt DeodaraBrazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Dirt started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in January. After his first full year of training he started to work with the kids program and two years later his first adult foundations classes. In his foundations classes Dirt creates an inclusive and positive environment for people to start their exploration of this beautiful and subtle art.
Ella Prevost
Ella PrevostKids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach
Ella Prevost is SBG Portland’s youngest coach. She teaches kids and teens Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with an emphasis on self defense and fundamentals. Coach Ella employs adaptive coaching methods to base her classes on her students’ needs.

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