John Danaher Says This Is One of the Most Overlooked Parts of a Successful Submission
Yes, the title is long. This is no coincidence.
It's an article about John Danaher, the resident mad scientist who seemingly spends the majority of his day in the 'blue dungeon' of Renzo Gracie's New York City academy honing the skills of a who's who of grappling and MMA superstars like Georges St. Pierre, Chris Weidman, along with Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and his younger brother Nicky Ryan with the last three forming the core of the "Danaher Death Squad".
Unless you live under a social media rock, you've probably seen this Renzo Gracie black belt's insightful and always lengthy breakdown's of matches, techniques, and grapplers. The man has a way with words, many of them.. His haters might think he's verbose, but his legions of fans and followers hang on every single word.
This week, John Danaher and BJJ Fanatics released arguably the most anticipated BJJ instructional in history. In his Leglocks: Enter the System series, Danaher shares with the world his complete holistic approach to lower body attacks, namely leg locks.
What sets this nearly 10 hours of leg submission philosophy apart from nearly every single jiu jitsu instructional to ever be released is the fact that Danaher is not simply sharing a series of techniques or moves. Instead, as he has done for the stable of world class grapplers he works with everyday, he is working to change how we think about BJJ at the core.
Once you immerse yourself in the world of John Danaher, you will be exposed to new and strange ideas and vocabulary that will have you looking at every technique you know and every technique you've yet to be exposed to differently. It is this way of thinking and applying these ideas that have led to Danaher being one of the most sought after instructors on the planet. Not only is he spearheading the new generation of dominant submission grapplers, but he is also attracting OGs like Tom DeBlass who began training with him weekly after last year's ADCC World Championship.
Lever and Fulcrum
From the very outset of the game changing video series, John Danaher begins to change your game. Literally in the first five minutes he will share a concept and application that will change how you perform the arm bar or juji gatame.
One of the most important underlying concepts or relationships in submissions like arm bars and leg locks is the interplay between levers and fulcrums. The ancient Greek mathematician, philosophy and scientist, Archimedes is credited with saying that if he had a lever and fulcrum set up long enough, he could move the world. The lever would be the straight bar and is manipulated against a pivot point, or fulcrum to increase the overall force.
In the example of the arm bar, the lever or bar is the arm itself. The fulcrum or pivot point would be the point at which the opponent's elbow rests against our hips. As you become more and more experienced with the arm bar technique, you learn through experience that the best results come when your grip and control is at the furthermost part of the lever or at the opponent's wrist and hand. With new students, it's common to see them pulling at the opponent's elbow, which is much closer to the fulcrum and does not generate the same power as being at the end of the arm.
Now here is where Danaher's genius really shines. While most experienced practitioners know about the importance of the lever, how many of us have ever thought about the the nature of our fulcrums or our hip areas. In the first few minutes of Leglocks: Enter the System, Danaher shares a crucial insight that will make your juji gatames much more successful.
How Hard Is Your Fulcrum?
In the classically taught arm bar, we are taught to keep our knees tight and to never cross our feet and extend the arm while simultaneously driving the hips up into the elbow. Lever and fulcrum, check. Right? For Danaher, this is actually a very ineffective arm bar which requires that we apply more strength than we should need because we have not taken into account the 'hardness' of our fulcrum. What does this mean?
John Danaher uses the example of breaking a pencil. If we attempt to break a pencil across a fulcrum that is extremely stiff and firm, the break will happen easily. If conversely we try to break the same pencil over a soft fulcrum, the break will be much more difficult (probably not happening) and at bare minimum will require that we apply far more power than we should, making the process much less efficient.
The image below shows John Danaher performing the classical straight extension of the arm bar and lever. The submission can certainly be achieved with this technique, but let's take a look at how it can be made even better and more efficient.
For Danaher, the fulcrum can be made harder with a simple adjustment of how the lever is being extended. By taking the lever towards his right hip and making the fulcrum the hard bone of his hip rather than the soft muscles of the inner thigh and groin area, the efficiency of the submission is increased greatly and the amount of strength needed to secure the submission will be much less.
In the image below, Danaher shows the angled pull across the hard bones of his hip which make the submission much easier and the potential for the arm breaking to be much higher.
How High Is Your Fulcrum?
The second aspect of our fulcrums that Danaher believes we must be cognizant of is the actually height of our fulcrum. The higher the fulcrum the more efficient the force can be applied which makes the submission all the more high percentage. How does one raise the height of the fulcrum in the application of the arm bar?
There are three ways John Danaher shows us that will help increase the height of our fulcrum. First and foremost, it's important to pull the heels in to towards our own butt which will begin to increase the height of our fulcrum.
In the image below, we see Danaher bringing his heels tight towards his butt. The image also captures the second way that he suggests we can increase the height of our fulcrum. This is by raising the leg on the side of the hip that we are pulling the lever across.
Lastly, he demonstrates a variation of the juji gatame where the right side leg is actually hooked behind the neck of the opponent and the second leg comes over. Using this leg under the neck of the opponent raises the hip/fulcrum to its maximum height making the break extremely efficient and powerful.
What we've just been discussing gets broken down in the first FIVE minutes of the series. Imagine what you're going to learn in the next 9 plus hours of content. Danaher uses the classic arm bar as a clear example of a technique that everyone is familiar with to better elucidate leg lock concepts and make them more accessible.
You will not want to waste another minute without getting your copy of John Danaher's Leg Locks: Enter the System magnum opus. The content in this video series is nearly 4 times the length of our average instructional. Not only will you become proficient in one of the most deadly system of leg attacks on the planet, but Danaher's unique style will have you seeing jiu jitsu in entirely new ways.