Your cart
Total: $0.00
Lifetime Video Access Lifetime
Video Access
30 Days Money Back Guarantee

BJJ Instructional Videos
John Danaher Leglocks
John Danaher Back Attacks BJJ
Half Guard BJJ Instructional Video
Guard Retention With John Danaher

Guard Retention With John Danaher


What is the most important thing you need to be good at to be good at Jiu Jitsu? 

Is it takedowns, attacks from a certain position, mount or back mount perhaps? Professor John Danaher and Professor Bernardo Faria would argue that the most important, most fundamental building block of your Jiu Jitsu game is to get good, and to continue to develop your ability to retain your guard.  Regardless of the type of guard you like to use, or in many cases, a few that you may transition between in order to retain your guard, it is imperative that guard retention be a constant focus amongst Jiu Jitsu practitioners at all levels. 

Just in case you have been living under a rock, or possibly just started training and are not quite sure who Professor Danaher is yet, let’s go through a quick overview.  Professor John Danaher is arguably the most sought after Jiu Jitsu instructors in the world and has grown in popularity amongst grapplers around the globe as a result of the success realized by his students who dominate competitions at the highest levels.  Athletes such as Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon are just a couple of the members of the Danaher Death Squad that is seemingly unstoppable as a result of the systematic approach to each position, concepts and secrets they are learning from Professor Danaher.

Escape Pins and The Turtle Position NOW! Click Learn More below!


There was a time when such concepts and secrets were reserved for those lucky enough to be able to train with Professor Danaher directly.  That time is behind us now, thanks to the folks at BJJ Fanatics we now have the ability to not only learn the concepts, tips and tricks from Professor Danaher, the same way these elite athletes do, but we have the ability to do it without having to travel to New York City to do it.  The BJJ Fanatics team has worked with, and still currently is working with Professor Danaher to capture in extreme detail the systematic approach and the methodology in which it is taught to students that ultimately creates such elite athletes.  

There is an entire “Enter the System” Series available covering several hours of detailed video instruction on the fundamental attacks Professor Danaher feels are important at every level in Jiu Jitsu, whether that be leg locks, arm bars, the Kimura, ectara.  And now, the series that is currently being developed is BJJ Fundamentals, with the tagline of go further faster meaning that these video instructionals will give you the concepts necessary to build a solid foundation, without wasting time on anything that is not fundamentally important.  

It sounds like from this video “How to do the perfect BJJ guard retention” by Professor John Danaher that the next instruction may be coming out soon and focusing on the fundamentals of guard retention.  While we wait, let’s take advantage of this sneak peek that was provided to us. Professor Danaher first discusses concepts that must be learned when one is working to better understand guard retention fundamentals.

One of the biggest areas of frustration for new students in Professor Danaher’s opinion is learning the bottom positions (guard), often times so frustrating that students will dismiss the need to develop a strong, fundamentally sound guard game, chalking it up as “I’m not flexible, this is one of those moves for smaller more flexible people”, or something to that effect.  Professor Danaher argues that if these students were taught to retain guard in a systematic way, understanding the concepts that both allow someone to pass the guard, and on the flip side, allow someone to retain guard, that these students would not only be less frustrated, but they would have a stronger game.

A traditional style of teaching guard retention was the “move for move” method meaning that it was our job to identify the specific guard pass being used against us, identify the weakness in this guard pass and then deploy the specific move to counter their move, and repeat.  Professor Danaher feels this method has some value, but in many cases is “a day late and a dollar short” because guard passing is such a dynamic process that is ever changing, especially as we start to look at guard passing in high level competition. His preference is to take a more conceptual approach to teaching guard retention.  The goal here is to get the student to understand the broad concept of guard retention and guard passing so the student can better understand the general principles that apply to any type of guard passing rather than the more specific approach that is taken in the move for move method. 

There are 6 fundamental requirements that must be met in order for your opponent to pass your guard.  The more of these 6 requirements the opponent is able to satisfy, the more risk they are to us. The ultimate goal of your opponent regardless of the specific guard pass is to establish some sort of chest exposure.  Once you expose your chest, it allows the opponent to start to gain control whereas if you maintain a knee and elbow connection it’s virtually impossible for the opponent to gain control over you and pin you down. 

Requirement 1: The opponent must break whatever connection we have to them.

The example shown in the video breakdown is with Professor Faria standing the Professor Danaher with a lasso and sleeve grip on one side and a spider guard and sleeve grip on the other side creating 4 contact points.  In doing this Danaher is connected to Faria, wherever Faria goes, Danaher goes, left, right, forward, backwards, it does not matter because they are connected. As long as there are 4 points of connection, there is no way for the opponent to pass the guard.  

Requirement 2:  The opponent must have a working grip on our body

Without a working grip we can simply follow them as they try to create an angle to pass the guard.  In the example shown Faria gets grips on the Gi pants just inside the knees enabling him to keep Danaher in place while circling which leads us to the next requirement. 

Requirement 3: The opponent must create an angle.

This can be done, as mentioned above by controlling the opponent’s hip.  If they are able to get “working grips” and hold us in place, then the opponent will be able to create an angle. 

Requirement 4:  Close the distance.

At this point the opponent has cleared the points of contact, obtained a working grip, created an angle and now they are working to get past our knee and elbow shield of protection and expose our chest to close the distance.  

Requirement 5: Level.

At this point the opponent is past our legs and standing with their grips over us.  While this is a success for them in many ways, there is still not a lot of control. In order to secure the pass and prevent us from working back to guard they must change their level and come to a chest on chest or knee on belly position.  As a general rule, chest to chest provides more control than a knee on belly position. 

Requirement 6:  Pin our head and shoulders to the mat.  

In order for it to be considered a true pass the opponent must be able to hold at least one of our shoulders to the mat for 3 seconds, if this is not possible then we need to work to obtain better control. 

Now that we know what the opponent needs in order to secure a successful guard pass, let’s walk through a scenario on how we can defend this most effectively.  As Professor Faria breaks the 4 points of contact, establishes his grips and begins to come around to the side Professor Danaher uses his arm on the side Faria is circling to create a frame on Faria’s bicep.  As Faria comes around Danaher’s right leg Danaher brings his left leg over Faria’s arm and in front of his head and connects it to his own right hand that, as we know, was just placed on Faria’s left arm as a frame.  This should put us in a position where our legs are crossed in a scissor position on either side of our opponent as you see pictured below. 


At this point there is not much use in the opponent attempting to level change.  If they do, we can easily sweep them since their weight will be loaded up on our legs.

Gi Techniques From One Of The BEST BJJ Teachers In The World! Click Learn More below!


With our legs in this position we have our connection on each side of the opponent so if they move left or right, we are once again able to move with them.  It does not so much matter how we obtain the 4 points of connection, as you see in the picture above, we are in a different position, but still have the 4 points, and it still works effectively to retain our guard.  Inevitably at some point the opponent will give you the space needed to spin back into the original 4 points of connection. 

There are different ranges of frames.  The frame on the bicep initially discussed is referred to as a forehand frame.  This type of frame is the longest type of frame. If the opponent is able to get around your legs on their knees rather than standing, we will need to use a forearm frame to better address the distance.  We still want to work to the scissor leg position; however, it is achieved slightly differently in this situation. We need to first do a reverse shrimping motion creating space between our opponent’s knees and our body so that we can spin, on our back under the opponent almost to a north south position. 

The final frame is a backhand frame.  This can be used when the opponent has already established a chest on chest position.  To do this we simply put our hand on our chest so the back of our left hand is facing their chest and palm down on our chest, our right hand is on the side of our head guaranteeing that we are able to maintain inside position as they attempt to get the cross face.  From here we shoot the left hand through as an under hook enabling us to come up to turtle position. It is imperative to control the opponent’s legs in this position, if you do not, you will give up your back. From this position there are a lot of options, but if we are simply trying to get back to guard, we can simply sit thru to half guard and work from here or continue to regain full guard if that is your preference. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but I for one am eagerly anticipating the release of this BJJ Fundamental series in July of 2019.  In the meantime, you can expect this same level of detail form Professor Danaher’s other video instructionals. Sticking with the fundamentals theme “Pin Escapes & Turtle Escapes: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster” is available now on BJJ Fanatics.  This was the first in the series, and I’m going to assume, knowing Danaher’s systematic approach to BJJ that this was released first on purpose, as he likely felt this was the best starting point, or the most important of the series.  Obviously, that’s just my opinion, but it stands to reason none the less. 

If you would prefer, the “Enter the System” series are all available as well, providing you with this same level of detailed systematic approach to the offense side of the game rather than the defensive side.  My personal favorite is “Triangles: Enter the System” but I have to imagine they are all equally mind blowing averaging over 10 hours of content from one of the most detail oriented Jiu Jitsu instructors of all time. 

The amazing John Danaher has released his first DVD in the Gi! Check out his DVD "Go Further Faster: Pin Escapes and Turtle Escapes". This fundamental DVD will give you the technique and insight to get to a higher level in the sport and second, to reduce the time ordinarily taken to get there. Check it out here!





Take a deep dive on one specific skill per month with the top instructors in the BJJ Fanatics family.

With your subscription you'll get:

  • Private Lesson (Masterclass)
  • Preview of our Upcoming Daily Deals to better plan your purchases
  • Rolling breakdowns & more.

You'll also get At Home Drills to work on, a Preview of our Upcoming Launches & More!


Learn More

Half Domination by Tom DeBlass DVD Cover
Catch Wrestling Formula by Neil Melanson
Butterfly Guard Re-Discovered Adam Wardzinski DVD Wrap
Judo Academy Jimmy Pedro Travis Stevens