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John Danaher Leglocks
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It's Time You Understood John Danaher's Theory of the Clock

It's Time You Understood John Danaher's Theory of the Clock


In the course of a very few years, John Danaher has gone from being the mastermind behind the rise and success of some of the best combat sports athletes on the planet, to having a virtual BJJ student body that hangs on his every word and clamors every few months to stuff his new instructional into their shopping cart. 

There's Gordon Ryan, arguably the best No Gi grappler on the planet who at the tender age of 25 has already secured three prestigious gold medals competing on the ADCC stage.  He's helped push the already solid Garry Tonon to even higher heights as one of the world's most exciting grapplers.  John Danaher has also had a hand in the MMA careers of UFC stars like Chris Weidman and Georges St. Pierre.

As a former philosophy student by day and nightclub boxer by night, John Danaher would eventually find his way to the Renzo Gracie Academy after seeing a friend show him the power of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in an impromptu demonstration.  Danaher would eventually become an integral student and eventual instructor at the academy when higher ranked instructors and students like legendary combat athletes Ricardo Almeida, Matt Serra and the late Ryan Gracie left the academy to pursue their MMA careers.   


Renzo Gracie would confer much of the instructing duties to the purple belted John Danaher.  The years of studying ontology and epistemology as a philosophy student would pay off as John Danaher began applying his systematic mind to the teaching of jiu jitsu.

Since late 2018, Danaher has been slowly releasing time bombs that have yet to fully release all of their power.  With the Enter the System project, Danaher presented the six submission systems that his aptly named team, the Danaher Death Squad used and continue to use to dominate competitions at every level. 

Beginning with one of the most polarizing topics in all of jiu jitsu history, his Enter the System:  Leg Locks series completely changed the way the world looked at lower body submissions.  Once thought to be a characteristic of a dirty figher, the leg lock has now become one of the premier paths to victory in submission grappling competition.  Danaher would go on to release series dedicated to Front Headlocks, Arm Bars, Triangles, Back Submissions, and the Kimura, each jam packed with 8-10 or more hours of systematic deep diving into the theory and practical application of the submission.

If Danaher would have stopped with the "six systems of power" in the Enter the System series, his impact would have been and continue to be immense.  But this was not good enough for John Danaher.  What does one do after they've single-handedly changed the nature of No Gi grappling instruction?  They go after the traditional Gi jiu jitsu student and attempt to fill in every gap in understanding that holds back the student's progress.

With the Go Further Faster Series, Danaher laid the foundation for all students to not only learn, but to relearn many of the fundamental concepts that underlie all of the disconnected moves that students have learned over the years.  In this 8 part series, Danaher covers in the greatest of details topics like Closed Guard, Open Guard, Half Guard and Passing the Guard.  He has complete series on Escaping Pins, Guard Retention and dealing with the dreaded Turtle position.

In the video below, John Danaher shares his Theory of the Clock that he uses to conceptualize the opponent's body and how to most effectively breakdown the turtle position.  Check it out below!

From his very first instructional, John Danaher has made it abundantly clear that his goal is not to simply share a series of techniques, but instead give virtual students a look inside his own mind to better understand the conceptual underpinnings that lie below the surface of individual moves.


In this excerpt from Strangles and Turtle Breakdowns, Danaher overlays the metaphor of a clock face on the body of a turtled opponent.  Using the lines of the spine and the hip line as the BJJ longitude and latitude lines, he is able to divide the body into 4 quadrants.  The head represents the 12 o'clock position.  The tailbone represents the 6 o'clock position.  Each side of the opponent's body on the left and right represent 9pm and 3pm respectively.

Danaher shows how futile it is to apply pressure directly along either the hip line or line of the spine.  For him, each limb creates a strong base for its respective quadrant.  Imagine if you will if you were turtled on the mat.  Your right arm would cover the 12 to 3pm quadrant.  Your right leg would serve as the base for the 3pm to the 6pm quadrant.  The left leg would serve the 6pm to 9pm quadrant and finally the left arm would cover the final quadrant from 9pm to 12 again.

The goal of any turtle breakdown in simplest terms then, is to find a way to compromise one of the limbs and take the opponent's body into the quadrant that can no longer be defended by the compromised limb.

So in this relatively short video, John Danaher has given us the tool to not only breakdown the turtle position or take the back with a specific movement, but to be able to think critically about what the opponent is giving us and react much more effectively to the changing landscape of the positions we find ourselves in and presented with.  Our effective implementation of techniques become faster as trial and error time is diminished with the use of this guiding metaphor.  The move is a hammer, whereas the theory of the clock is a toolbox, a set of options.

John Danaher has changed how we think and train No Gi jiu jitsu with the Enter the System series.  He has rebuilt the foundation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with his Go Further Faster series.  He is currently more than midway through a project of dealing with one of the biggest elephants to ever sit on the mats with us, the challenge of teaching BJJ students how to safely and effectively take an opponent down from a standing to a ground position.

For more from John Danaher check out any of his highly popular series available from  For more specifically related to the Turtle Breakdown, check out Strangles and Turtle Breakdowns at the BUY NOW link below.




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