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John Danaher

Front Headlocks:  Enter the System

In this series, John Danaher shares his complete system of front headlocks from all positions.  Starting with standing positions and moving to kneeling and seated variations of the guillotine and strangles using the head and arm.

The front headlock system for John Danaher is the starting point he recommends for his students as no matter if the submission attempt is successful or not, it opens up other submission pathways because of the defensive reactions that having their heads attacked opens up.

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Kimura:  Enter the System

Just when you thought you knew the kimura.  It's a technique or submission we learn early, but as John Danaher does in his other systems, he presents what we thought we knew as a series of problems to solve and different roads to take.  Know this powerful submission better than you ever thought possible.

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Triangles:  Enter the System

 The triangle is one of the most difficult submissions to master.  With John Danaher's systematic approach you will learn the modifications necessary to make this a powerful and crucial part of your BJJ game.

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Armbars:  Enter the System

 A complete series based around the armbar and all conceivable iterations of the submission from all positions.  First you will learn the mechanics of control and then the mechanics of separation.  After the underlying concepts have been ingrained in your application, the true art of the armbar can begin.

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Once the final piece of the Submission System position was released, rather than sit back and watch these systems change the game,he set forth on his most recent project with the Go Further Faster Fundamental BJJ series.  In this series, John Danaher attempts to solve the age old jiu jitsu problem of finding oneself in from the beginning and all through the jiu jitsu journey, the problem of finding oneself in an inferior position.  

The underlying goal of each series is to defend and to escape.  Once a practitioner is equipped with the ability to defend submission attempts and escape from inferior positions, they will then be free to develop their jiu jitsu game to the fullest.

Go Further Faster:  Pin Escapes and Turtle Escapes

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Go Further Faster:  Guard Retention

 

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Go Further Faster:  Half Guard

 

 

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Go Further Faster:  Closed Guard

 

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Go Further Faster:  Open Guard

 

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Go Further Faster:  Passing the Guard

 

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Go Further Faster:  Half Guard Passing and Dynamic Pins

 

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John Danaher

John Danaher was born in New Zealand and found himself in New York City attending Columbia Universities prestigious philosophy program, where he would ultimately earn his Masters Degree.  During his college years, he worked as a bouncer at a number of clubs and would spend a great deal of time working out in classic weight lifting gyms to stay strong and be ready for any interactions with drunken patrons at the clubs he was working at.

When a friend invited him to a jiu jitsu class, John attended with relatively low expectations and was quite surprised to actually find himself interested in the art.  He would become a student of the great Renzo Gracie at a time when his peers and training partners would have been the likes of Ricardo Almeida, Matt Serra and Renzo's late brother Ryan Gracie.

As time went on, eventually Renzo Gracie's highest level students like Ricardo Almeida and Matt Serra would leave to continue their careers or start their own academies.  It was at this time, as a purple belt that he was called upon by the Renzo Gracie team to step up as a coach.  It was this pivotal moment that truly began his obsession with becoming the absolute best coach he could be.

It is said that John would easily spend 12-14 hours a day at the gym working on his BJJ and his skills as a coach.  Renzo is said to have said that John Danaher would spend Christmas Day on the mats if he were allowed.

Since that time, he has worked with and continues to work with a who's who of talented grappling and MMA superstars.  The "Squad" as he calls them, or the "Danaher Death Squad" as the world would call them would be made up of superstars like Eddie Cummings, Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and his younger brother Nicky.  The squad goes much deeper and includes too many up and coming grapplers to mention and is continuing to grow.  One of the greatest testaments to John Danaher's ability as a coach as seeing long-time black belts like perennial fan favorite, Tom DeBlass, joining his students Garry and Gordon by incorporating time with John in his busy schedule.

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One of the best introductions to John Danaher came on a recent Joe Rogan Podcast where he discussed his evolution and theories of grappling.

Joe Rogan Experience Podcast Featuring John Danaher


Notable Techniques

John's career as a coach is different than most BJJ athletes in that his competition experience as a competitor is extremely limited.  Due to long standing injuries and many surgeries, he has been relegated to his role as Mastermind for the many talented athletes he has been able to teach and coach.

With the release up his Leglocks:  Enter the System instructional, he has opened the proverbial Pandora's box and shared his unique and comprehensive approach to lower body submissions that have helped his squad members dominate the world of submission grappling.  His students have won nearly every single Eddie Bravo Invitational, Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon and Nicky Ryan all showcased their talents at last year's ADCC event with Gordon being the youngest athlete to win his weight class and to also double medal after earning a silver medal in the absolute division.  Young Nicky Ryan, not yet 17 years of age, has now bested multiple high level black belts in competition, while still only a purple belt under Danaher.

In the video below, John Danaher shares the first glimpse into his leg lock system with the help of Bernardo Faria.  The video serves as a fitting appetizer for those who are prepping themselves for the full power of Leglocks:  Enter the System.

BJJ Fanatics and John Danaher Outside Heel Hook Masterclass featuring Bernardo Faria

Stuart Cooper Presents John Danaher's Four Part System

Renowned filmaker Stuart Cooper brilliantly adapts a piece of John Danaher interview in which he describes the brief and somewhat random interaction between himself and grappling legend Dean Lister, who is one of the pioneers of the leg submission game.  It was an off-handed comment to Danaher that sent him back to his laboratory so many years ago and ultimately led to the development of his system.

John Danaher Interview from Jiu Jitsu vs. The World

John Danaher, in the film, Jiu Jitsu vs. The World talks about what it means for him to be an effective coach to his students and how their development should be measured.

From this sought after position on the opponent's back, the practitioner can then take their time and work for the final step in the process for John Danaher, which is to secure a joint or preferably a strangle submission.  Understanding these simple and 

John Danaher Understanding Jiu Jitsu

In the video below, John Danaher is joined by star student Gordon Ryan and 5 time world BJJ champion, Bernardo Faria to explain the essence of jiu jitsu as he understands and teaches it.

For John Danaher, it is important to understand that pure combat can have a sense of randomness.  Spend some time scrolling through YouTube and Worldstar street fight videos and watch as most represent the untrained masses flailing their punches and kicks into the air hoping that they strike the opponent in a devastating knockout blow.  John Danaher presents jiu jitsu as a systematic approach to combat that once understood can bring a coherent and cohesive plan to the chaos that we know of as those viral combat videos we all enjoy.

Starting from the standing position as most conflicts would typically start, John Danaher explains that from a standing position, combatants have access to the full mass of their bodies (legs, hips, shoulders) which allow them to employ large quantities of kinetic energy for striking.

Within Danaher's system of jiu jitsu, there are two ways that this massive amount of energy must be dealt with.  Either proactively, where we take our opponents down to the ground or in a reactive manner where we are taken down by them.  Either way, once the fight is down to the ground, much of the kinetic energy potential for strikes is thwarted, though danger still abounds from the legs of the opponent.

From the top position (where you've taken down your opponent), if you find yourself with their legs between you and a more dominant spot, the next goal that must be achieved is a pass beyond their legs.  In an untrained person, the legs can present upkicks or trips.  In a trained opponent, the legs can present any number of guard variations, submissions or sweeps.

Once past the legs and achieving the first two primary steps of BJJ for John Danaher (takedown and guard pass), the combatant must be able to move through a series of dynamic pins, each with varying degress of striking potential.  Positions like side control, knee on belly, and mount ultimately allow us to pin our opponent, while also allowing different levels of striking potential.

The most favorable of these positions would arise as one is striking down from the mount position.  In this vulnerable position, the opponent would either accept their fate and allow punches to rain down upon them, or they would instinctively begin to turn to the side or even face down, which would expose their backs to you and allow you to take ultimate control of them from behind.  This creates the most favorable position because there are no more strikes available and the hips and their power are greatly nullified.

From this most favorable position on the back controlling the opponent, the only step left is the final one for John Danaher, to secure either a joint or prefereably a strangle submission on that opponent.  Understanding the four step process as described by John Danaher will give practitioners a better sense of direction no matter where they find themselves.

All BJJ players are attempting to move back and forth between those four steps to achieve their goals.  From the takedown, to addressing the legs and guard, to achieving a dominant pinning position, to finally securing a submission.  These are the golden rules of BJJ.  No matter how the back and forth of the match or combat scenario goes, these truths remain necessary to follow.  

Danaher looks at variation as well, should the opponent take us down.  Our first goal should always be getting our legs and their power back into play from either a protective sense, or an attacking sense (triangles, armbars, etc).  Regardless of the order, the principles remain clear and our goals at each stage remain in sight.

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John Danaher Go Further Faster BJJ Fundamentals

In this video introducing the ideas behind the Go Further Faster Series, we see inside the mind of Danaher as he outlines the coherent system he uses to teach his students and create such BJJ powerhouses as Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan, his younger brother prodigy Nicky and many more.

Breaking jiu jitsu into three key areas of focus, each with a series of 5 sub-areas that can be honed in on a trained, Danaher's systematic approach will provide the BJJ students around a globe a clear blue print to get better much quicker.

Pay close attention to the close of the video where John Danaher outlines his belief that old cliches like it takes 10 years to achieve a black belt level of knowledge are not necessarily written in stone.  John Danaher believes that with proper structure and a plan, a human being can drastically change the course of their development in a 5 year span.  It is his belief that most people mistake how much they can achieve in 6 months by overestimation, but in fact we under estimate what we can do in 5 years.  Grab yourself the Go Further Faster series and be prepared to get to your goals far quicker than you ever thought possible.

 

 

 

 

Notable Students

Because John Danaher has not competed himself on the highest stages due to things like injury and surgeries, he has competed vicariously through his stable of brilliant students.  His first and longest Death Squad member is Eddie Cummings.  As one of the smallest and lightest of the squad members, he is also the one with the perfect body and style for leg locks and it is with the leg attack that he is most comfortable.

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Garry Tonon

There have been few grapplers as exciting to watch as Garry Tonon.  As a Tom DeBlass black belt, Garry had already stood on the world championship stages before he ever began training with John Danaher.  Garry is an example of a grappler who embraces his weaknesses and instantly invested everything he could possibly invest into traveling up to 3 hours each way back and forth from New Jersey to Manhattan to train with Danaher.  

Now as he makes his next move into the world of MMA with One FC, Garry continues to look to John as an important coach and mentor.  For now Garry has put his grappling on the back burner, but we are confident of a return someday and look forward to watching his MMA career develop.

Garry Tonon Highlight

Gordon Ryan

Gordon Ryan, himself a Garry Tonon black belt has only been training BJJ for approximately 6 years.  At 22 years of age, he has achieved more than many athletes who have been training and competing for decades.  His talent is equaled by his work ethic.  He is currently on pace to be one of the most successful BJJ athletes in history.  Currently he is working to become as dominant in gi competition as he is in No Gi competition.  

 

Nicky Ryan

Young Nicky Ryan is Gordon's 16 year old brother.  As a John Danaher purple belt, he has already bested some of the grappling worlds premiere black belts. In 2017 he became the youngest person to ever compete at the ADCC world championship and though he didn't medal, put on an amazing performance.

Nicky Ryan vs. 10th Planet's Marvin Castelle

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