Stephen Whittier – Master Instructor / Coach

Steve SBG Photo

  • Instructor/Coach in SBGI Mixed Martial Arts (under Matt Thornton, SBG International)
  • 3rd degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (under Roberto Maia, Boston BJJ)
  • Kru in Sityodtong Muay Thai (under Mark Dellagrotte, Sityodtong USA)
  • Instructor in Jeet Kune Do; Muay Thai; Filipino martial arts (under Richard Bustillo, IMB Academy)
  • Black Belt/Instructor in Jeet Kune Do; Muay Thai; Eskrima (under Bobby Giordano, American Martial Arts Center)
  • 2nd-Degree Black Belt in Eskrima (under Cacoy Canete, Doce Pares Eskrima)
  • Black Belt in Shotokan karate (under Lou Demas, Wheaton College Taisodokan)
  • Certified TrainerBurn With Kearns Core Fitness & MMA Conditioning


Education & Background

Stephen Whittier is a nationally recognized martial arts instructor and performance coach. His extensive resumé as an educator spans the fields of martial arts, fitness, and academia. At Wheaton Collge in Massachusetts, Whittier earned top honors during his undergraduate years, graduating Summa cum Laude as a Wheaton Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended graduate school with a full ride at Tufts University, where taught for over four years after earning his M.A. degree.Along with being a professional educator, he has pursued his passion for the martial arts for nearly two decades. In addition to holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the title Kru (honorific title for teacher) in Muay Thai, his background includes black belts in karate and Filipino Kali/Eskrima, instructor certifications in Jeet Kune Do, and personal fitness training experience. He has also trained local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel.

Coach Whittier’s depth of expertise has come as a result of continued research and inquiry into the most efficient, functional approaches to martial arts. This evolution led him from studying more traditional arts to training in and teaching “mixed martial arts” – long before the term MMA became well known and the activity became a popular sport. This journey traversed the “all ranges” approach of Jeet Kune Do and alive striking arts like Muay Thai and boxing to training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Vale Tudo (the Brazilian predecessor of modern mixed martial arts).

Instructor / Trainer Experience

While teaching kickboxing and Jeet Kune Do at the American Martial Arts Center, Whittier formally began his journey learning the beautiful and highly effective art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Training at Boston Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy under Roberto Maia, he eventually assisted teaching classes, including assistant instructor (along with competition team captain, John Frankl) of the Vale Tudo program. For years, Whittier was also a close training partner of elite BJJ competitor and UFC Lightweight Contender, Kenny Florian, and played an active role in preparing Kenny for many of UFC fights.

In addition, he has trained directly under Kru Mark DellaGrotte of the famed Sityodtong Muay Thai / MMA academy since early 2003, and is Southern Massachusetts’ most senior trainer in Muay Thai. As part of his regular work with Kru Mark the Sityodtong team, he has served as a sparring partner for numerous professional mixed martial arts competitors, including Stephan Bonnar, Patrick Cote, Tim Boetsch, Rory Singer, and Sam Hogar.

Along with teaching at SBG, Coach Whittier has worked as a trainer for a number of professional athletes as well, including his student, Brazilian Hairdar Superfight Champion, Cesar Barros; Former Elite XC Middleweight Champ, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, whom he coached leading up to Ninja’s dominant win over Tony Bonnello in 2008; and recently, UFC vet Spencer Fisher (serving as Spencer’s BJJ coach during his training camp at Sityodtong). Barros has also represented Nexus as a trainer for World Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (in Shogun’s first match with Lyoto Machida in 2009), BJJ Champion & MMA competitor Roderigo Damm, and others.

International Reputation

Currently, Whittier is one of only a select number of Coaches with top martial arts coaching organization, SBG International, and in 2006 became SBGI’s East Coast Regional Director. Along with teaching and managing Nexus full-time, he continues to train and network via his associations with other instructors in SBGI, Sityodtong USA, the Boston Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Network Association, and Burn With Kearns core fitness & mma conditioning program.

Coach Whittier has conducted seminars across the country, from New Hampshire to Oregon, as well as international locations, has been featured in several instructional video series, and was a regular technical training contributor for Ultimate MMA, a leading industry publication.

In 2011, he developed and released the 40 Plus BJJ Success series, which has gained thousands of followers and received praise from students and instructors from around the globe.

Locally, he focuses on the continued development of SBG East Coast as a positive force within the community. In addition to working with area schools developing anti-bullying programs and after school programs, SBG is involved with various scholarship and fundraising programs. Whittier has also worked with local and state law enforcement in field specific self-defense and defensive tactics.


John Murphy – BJJ Black Belt Instructor & Competition Team Captain

John Murphy at SBG campA black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, John is a true leader in the academy, helping motivate others to be their best. Along with winning multiple Gold Medals and Championship Belts at both N.A.G.A. and Grapples Quest tournaments, John has also won Gold Medals in top international competition, including the IBJJF No Gi Pan Ams, New York Open and Boston Open, and a Pan American Absolute Division Silver Medalist.



John Connors – BJJ Black Belt, Instructor / Coach

In addition to teaching at SBG, John is the owner and chief instructor of Connors MMA Academy in Norwood, MA, and a longtime training partner and peer of Coach Stephen Whittier. He is a Harvard graduate, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Roberto Maia, and a certified CrossFit Trainer.

Along with his quality Jiu-Jitsu program, John coaches one of the dominant Mixed Martial Arts teams in New England, boasting an 18-1 record in 2012, including multiple amateur and professional champions. In 2012, under John’s tutelage our sister team at Connors MMA went 18-1 in Mixed Martial Arts competition. John was named CageFX Hex Trainer of the Year, and Connors MMA was named CageFX Hex School of the Year (Metro Boston).

John and Steve began training together in 1999 at Boston Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, and their teaching partnership began in 2004 when Steve merged the original Nexus program with John’s first martial arts school, where they taught together until Steve moved to down to Southern Massachusetts and founded the current SBG East Coast academy. The schools continue to maintain a close relationship, and competition team trains together to raise the level of both academies.


Jeff Perez – Program Manager, Instructor

Jeff Getting BeltDrawing on years of coaching experience, Jeff has quickly built a reputation as not only one of the top wrestling trainers in the state, but also the most technical when it comes to adapting wrestling for mixed martial arts.

His great eye for detail and ability to break down and properly train wrestling technique led Master Instructor Steve Whittier to include Jeff in coaching the UFC’s Spencer Fisher (Steve was brought in as Spencer’s grappling trainer as part of his fight camp with Sityodtong in 2010).

A two-tour Marine Corps Iraq veteran (where he served as Team Leader) Jeff is also an Mixed Martial Arts,, grappling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor.

He is also the former #1 Ranked 145lb. MMA competitor in New England, and holds a purple belt in BJJ.


Mike Bromberg – Instructor

Mike Bromberg

Mike first began training as a student at the academy while still in college, where he majored in education. A graduate of the first SBG Certified Instructor Training program, Mike has evolved into a proficient instructor known for his patience and great demeanor with kids and adult students alike.

Mike is also a skilled Muay Thai practitioner and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete, and in 2012 won the N.A.G.A. Northeast Championship’s Blue Belt weight and open divisions. He is currently a purple belt in BJJ.


Kevin Rose – Instructor

Kevin Rose StaffKevin is one of the highest-ranking Muay Thai students at SBG and is currently the senior Muay Thai instructor under Coach Steve. He also holds a purple belt in BJJ.



James Simmons – Fitness Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Coach

A certified personal trainer, James has also fast built a reputation as one of the top strength & conditioning coaches around. In addition to running the Womens SuperFit Bootcamp and fitness programs, James has been instrumental in preparing SBG athletes for competition.

Cesar Barros – Instructor / Coach; Director of Nexus Martial Arts Brazil

An experienced and highly regarded competitor and trainer, Cesar was a champion in Shotokan Karate in his youth before shifting his focus to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts and Muay Thai.

Cesar won the Hairdar Superfight title belt in May 2010 (held in Espirito Santo, Brazil), submitting a 4x National BJJ champion Black Belt in just 35 seconds. In addition, he has trained numerous top athletes in Brazil, including Former Pride & UFC World Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (for his first match with Lyoto Machida in 2009); Roderigo Damm of BodogFight, JungleFight, and Strikeforce;  and Erick Sylvia of JungleFight and the UFC.

Cesar currently heads up Barros Fight of Brazil, and sets the standard for professional coaching in the city of Guarapari.