A World Class Staff Dedicated To Your Success

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Stephen Whittier – Founder & Head Coach

  • 3rd-Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Kru in Sityodtong Muay Thai 
  • Certified Instructor in Jeet Kune Do (JKD)
  • Certified Instructor in Filipino Martial Arts
  • 2nd-Degree Black Belt in Eskrima
  • Black Belt in Shotokan Karate

One of the most decorated martial arts instructors in the country, Stephen is one of only a handful of head coaches with Straight Blast Gym International (under SBG founder Matt Thornton) as well as the organization's Director. He is also the South Coast region's highest ranking instructor in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (under New England's senior-ranked black belt, Roberto Maia) and Muay Thai kickboxing (under Sityodtong USA director, Mark DellaGrotte).

In addition, he has earned black belts and instructor ranks in a number of martial arts disciplines over decades of study, and has trained a broad range of students and athletes – from local, state, and federal law enforcement to multiple UFC competitors.

Due to his parallel background as a former University lecturer and consultant, Coach Stephen brings a unique and deeply analytical perspective to his martial arts instruction.

He has also traveled extensively to teach seminars and training camps all across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

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John Murphy – BJJ Black Belt, Coach

John is an experienced Jiu-Jitsu coach  and competitor, and sets a high standard in the academy with his great attitude and dedication. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Coach Stephen Whittier.

John has won numerous championship belts and gold medals at major regional tournaments such as NAGA, Grapplers Quest, Caxcudo, and The Good Fight, as well as in IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) competitions, including: IBJJF Boston Open Absolute gold medalist, IBJJF New York Open gold medalist, IBJJF Pan Ams gold medalist and Absolute silver medalist, and IBJJF Masters World Championships bronze medalist.


Kevin Rose – Muay Thai Kickboxing, Boxing, & Fitness Coach

Kevin is SBG East Coast's highest-ranking Muay Thai and striking arts instructor under Coach Stephen.

​In addition to being a highly technical coach with a great sense of humor, Kevin has a strong competitive background in both boxing and Muay Thai.

He also holds a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is SBG's lead instructor for the Steel Cage Fitness program.

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​Jeff Perez – Program Manager, Muay Thai & MMA Coach

Jeff is the Program Manager at SBG East Coast, overseeing daily operations. He is also an accomplished mixed martial arts competitor and a dynamic instructor who brings high energy and humor to all his classes.

He is a Marine Corps veteran (with tour tours in Iraq) and holds a business degree from UMass Dartmouth.  He is the former 145 lb. Cage Titans champion (and #1 ranked in New England at his weight), and holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Jeff currently teaches Muay Thai, wrestling, and MMA classes at SBG.

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Mike Bromberg - Youth Program Lead Instructor & BJJ Coach

Coach Mike started training at SBG when he was just sixteen years old, and literally grew into adulthood in the program, where he is now one of the academy's top instructors (and the lead instructor for all kids programs).

Known for his caring attitude and patience as well as his great technique, Mike is a favorite with adult students and parents alike.

A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, Mike is also a successful competitor who has won double gold (weight and absolute) at NAGA and medaled at several major IBJJF tournaments, including silver at the IBJJF Pro.



James Simmons – Warrior Woman Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Coach

One of the most effective personal trainers and group fitness coaches around, James specializes in helping his students and clients get great results.

James is the lead trainer for SBG's Warrior Woman fitness program, lead personal trainer, and strength & conditioning coach for the competition team.

James is also a student and assistant instructor in Muay Thai and an accomplished competitor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


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'Anick Bernier – Womens' BJJ Instructor

Anick leads the womens' Jiu-Jitsu classes at SBG. She is fastest-ever student to be promoted to purple belt in BJJ under Coach Stephen Whittier.

Also an exceptional competitor, Anick has won numerous Jiu-Jitsu and grappling tournaments, including multiple gold medals in her weight class plus the absolute gold medal at IBJJF Boston Open, and gold at the IBJJF No Gi Pan Ams.



Brandin DeSousa – Member Services & Youth Instructor

Known for his warm and friendly personality, Brandin serves dual duty as both member services consultant and youth instructor.

When he is not helping out SBG students working with the kids, you'll see Brandin on the mats training both Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.



Tiffiney Barlow – Youth Instructor

A longtime student and member of the SBG tribe, Tiffiney brings great warmth and patience to her role as a youth instructor.

Tiffiney holds a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu ​and trains along with her husband, Jamie, and her sons.



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Kasey Hedglin Botelho – Yoga Instructor

A health & fitness devoteé, Kasey truly "walks the walk."

In addition to being a certified yoga instructor and head of SBG East Coast's yoga program, she is also a skilled Muay Thai practitioner and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

When she's not teaching, she enjoys training along with her husband, Steve, and her son.