From a Harsh Look to a Hand Grenade


Depending on how someone comes into contact with our work, they may view SBG as a Mixed Martial Arts organization, a chain of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools, or a combination thereof. But the truth is, SBG has always been about fighting, or, otherwise stated – Jiu-Jitsu, with a capital J.

Original SBG coach, Paul Sharp, personifies that ethos. And while we release these videos weekly, this one embodies so many of our core principles that it required its own essay.

To begin with you’ll notice Paul discussing one of the three core principles of SBG (as laid out here: Martial Arts Scientists) – Adaptability – the ability to fight at all ranges, in all circumstances, with any tool; fighting – Jiu-Jitsu with a capital J.

Secondly, you’ll note Paul is teaching a fundamental. And teaching fundamentals is a big part of what SBG is about.

What is a fundamental?

A fundamental is not necessarily what’s most basic, but rather, what’s most important. A fundamental is a root skill-set, a foundational core within a given delivery system – in this case hand-fighting in the clinch. Because it is foundational, it will by definition, transcend bodies, venue, geography, era, and culture.

More specifically, Paul is teaching a tactic used in hand-fighting; in this case, one adopted by the Secret Service when protecting the President and other heads of State. However, hand-fighting goes well beyond clearing the grip from a belligerent fan. It is a skill used in no-gi grappling, gi BJJ, MMA, weapons retention and disarming skills, and all aspects of self-defense. It’s the moment between words and grips. It’s a fundamental of fighting – Jiu-Jitsu with a capital J.

The third thing to notice is that Paul drills it all Alive (you’ll see much more of that in part 2 of this video) As we’ve been saying for decades now, no matter how functional your curriculum is, if you want to be able to use it against an aggressive and resisting attacker, you need to train it Alive. No aliveness, no timing. No timing, and all you’re left with is a dead pattern.

The last thing to note, and something you probably had to witness in person to fully appreciate, was how easily Paul navigated the varying degrees of experience and backgrounds, that the people in this class had. It isn’t difficult to take a group of already tough people, and make them tougher. But, the gun shy kid, the woman who has escaped spousal abuse, the neurotic children of alcoholic parents – the folks for whom even a harsh word induces panic, to walk them through something like this, and build them up to the point where they can exhibit healthy assertive behavior on their own – that takes a skilled coach.

With dozens of people on the mat, it is inevitable that some will come from abusive backgrounds. Cruel and stupid (I repeat myself) parents, the character disordered creeps who berate and beat down their own children, end up either teaching their kids to be just like them, aggressive (read scared) and abusive degenerates – or, instead, their kids learn to become self-doubting neurotics, good people who internalize all that came before, and suffer for it. For those folks, the kind of movements Paul was teaching at camp, from a harsh look to hand-fighting – offer a way in. They open a door to what we do that’s easier to breach. Something less daunting to start, something that isn’t just pass the guard, escape a choke, or throw a punch. It’s an entry point for those that need it most. And even though these skills benefit everyone, from Secret Service officers to stay at home moms, for those of us that do this for a living, it’s worth considering their use as a starting point for the more fragile among us. And that too, is Jiu-Jitsu with a capital J.

A simple grip clear; application = everywhere. Not every circumstance warrants an elbow to the face. Some don’t even warrant a shove. A truly skilled Martial Arts Scientist, a truly proficient Jiu-Jitsu practicioner, should have the dexterity necessary to handle any aggressive and potentially violent situation – Appropriate Response Training – ART – the artistry of Jiu-Jitsu with a capital J; or as coach Paul says, at SBG we want you to be able to handle everything, from a harsh look to a hand grenade.

Look for part two next week, and make sure you subscribe on our YouTube channel. Here is part one: