Stephen Whittier – Master Instructor / Coach
|Instructor/Coach in SBGI Mixed Martial Arts (under Matt Thornton, SBG International)|
|Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (under Roberto Maia, Boston BJJ/Gracie Barra USA)|
|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 Trainer – Burn 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 Nexus, 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.
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 is 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 Nexus Martial Arts & Fitness as a positive force within the community. In addition to working with area schools developing anti-bullying programs and after school programs, Nexus 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 Connors – BJJ Black Belt, Instructor / Coach
In addition to teaching at Nexus, 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 Nexus Martial Arts & Fitness academy. The schools continue to maintain a close relationship, and competition team trains together to raise the level of both academies.
Matt Borges – Instructor / Coach
Matt Borges is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a certified Muay Thai trainer, and an Instructor through Straight Blast Gym International. He also holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate and has years of boxing experience.
Matt is also the lead youth instructor at Nexus. An experienced childhood educator, his background includes 6 years as a professional pre-school teacher.
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 / Nexus Martial Arts of Brazil, and sets the standard for professional coaching in the city of Guarapari.
Jeff Perez – Instructor / Wrestling Coach; MMA Comp Team Captain
Drawing 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.
Eric Roderick – Instructor
Eric is one of the highest-ranking Muay Thai students at Nexus, and holds a blue belt in BJJ. A natural when it comes to teaching and helping others, he assists as an instructor in both the adult and youth programs at Nexus.
John Murphy – BJJ Instructor and Competition Team Captain
A purple 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.
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 Nexus athletes for competition.
Stephen Whittier, M.A. – Managing Partner / Master Instructor
Megan Johnson – Member Services Director