Perfect Techniques with John Danaher
Is there such a thing as the perfect technique?
It would be tough to find 2 practitioners that perform the same move in an identical fashion. What’s perfect to someone else may surely not be perfect for you, or me. Technique that’s indigenous to a particular player may even seem perfect because it’s the way they’ve been doing it for years, and seems to fit their game just right. But there seems to always be the chance that an elusive detail will make its way in front of many of us at some point, and will change the way we execute a technique forever.
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What makes a technique perfect? I’d say that one characteristic of a perfect technique would have to be its ability to transcend size. If a technique can be utilized by BJJ students of various sizes without struggle, this would be one attribute that could bring a sense of perfectness to the move. This is only one example, but I feel it’s an important one.
When a student struggles to perform a particular technique, it often gets blamed on flexibility, inexperience, or even the mental process, but what if it’s only because sound mechanical details are missing? If these “perfect” mechanical details are omitted from the instruction, students will struggle to move and place their bodies in the correct positions that set them up for success.
John Danaher has recently been shedding quite a bit of light on some of the basic techniques, and their application. I’ve personally had some very eye-opening moments while delving in to his material. A lot of these light bulb moments have been to do with small details on how to put myself in better position to finish techniques that I thought I knew well.
Let’s take a look at 3 of Danaher’s recent video contributions to the ever-expanding sea of BJJ videos available. We’ll start with the triangle.
Perfect Triangle Choke
One of the biggest difficulties we face with trying to secure a triangle is locking it. If someone has very broad shoulders, this can make the task even more difficult. As Danaher states, we only want our partners head, and one arm (not the shoulder) inside of our legs. If we can achieve this, then securing the triangle lock will become much easier. Other triangle killers include our partner achieving posture, as well as coming forward. All of these detriments to the triangle can be cured by creating an angle.
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To create this critical angle, Danaher first controls his partner’s head, he then uses his leg to create a spinning motion. This gives Danaher the ability to get perpendicular to his partner. From here he continues to hold the head and reaches under his partners leg to anchor himself
To further eliminate the unnecessary body parts from the lock, Danaher places his knee over his partners shoulder, essentially making it disappear from the triangle set up position. With an excellent angle, and only the arm and the head of his partner secured inside of his triangle, Danaher is now in perfect position to finish the submission. He lifts his lower back from the floor, and brings what he refers to as his support leg to the strangle leg, further covering the shoulder and adding to the extreme tightness of the strangle.
For me, this was the best instruction I’d ever received on the triangle. I immediately added details from this video to my game and became more successful that very night. This may be the perfect triangle.
The Perfect Kimura Lock
Let us now take a look at the kimura from side control. The side control kimura can be a tricky one, as it is one of the tougher versions of the kimura to finish. Again, where is the disconnect? More than likely it’s with the mechanics of the technique. Here is Danaher’s version of the kimura from side control. Have a look and see if you can pick up anything that you might have been missing.
Right away we see that Danaher designates a pushing and pulling hand. Even this concept alone may change the way you think about how a kimura works. Finishing with a “pull dominate kimura” in Danaher’s opinion is the way to go from side control. He recommends immobilizes the limb, and then applying pulling force to finish the submission.
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So how is this done?
First Danaher introduces us to the “powerline”. He refers to it as a diagonal line from one of his partners shoulders to the opposite hip. To get the breaking power he wishes to harness, he’ll need to position his hips by his partners head, and his head by his partner’s hips.
To Get into the power line position Danaher will have t beat the near side frame first. To do this he turns his hips to face his partners hips, clearing the frame. He then back steps and reinserts his knee in front of the arm, clearing it from his path. Here, he sweeps his bottom knee forward, almost appearing to cradle his partner’s head, and then takes a large step with his top leg over his partner’s head, and separates his legs to settle in.
For the finish, Danaher slides his kimura grip so that he’s elbow to elbow with his partner. From here, he can begin to apply that pulling pressure that he spoke about at the start of the sequence. This produces an undoubtedly tight submission. Be sure to move your head back to the powerline for the finish, as this only makes the submission more devastating.
The Perfect Armbar
Lastly, we will examine this version of the armbar from mount with Danaher. This is probably a submission that you were exposed to very early in your journey, but there are some things here that may surprise you. I experienced a couple of palm to forehead moments while viewing this video, and it filled in several gaps for me. Take a look.
One of the biggest problems we face in the mount is separating the elbows from the body. Whether we’re after an armbar or not, this can be an arduous task. Danaher has a great answer to this particular quandary. He begins by securing a tight cross face on his partner, and planting his hand under the rear deltoid. He places his hand palm down under his partner’s elbow and begins to walk his fingers away. This is not a new idea, I’ve been shown this technique many times. BUT inevitably we will reach a point where we can np longer walk the elbow away, and this is where Danaher adds a spectacular detail.
As the finger walking ends, Danaher extends his arm, and moves his head over his partner’s head to complete the rest of the motion. Maybe this is something you already do, but for me, it was a missing link. Danaher continues with this method until he is satisfied with the position of his partners arm. Once the elbow is above the head and over the center line, Danaher cradles it by crossing his arms.
He’s now prepared to slide north, bringing his knee to his elbow. He then sweeps his second leg into position, with the bottom of his foot facing his partners head. Danaher then reaches through his partner’s elbows with his head side arm and grabs his own thigh. Posting his left hand and moving his ear toward his partner’s thigh now affords the ability to swing his leg over the head and sit down into position to finish the armbar. NEVER sit back with an arm bar without first placing the cross-face leg over the head.
Even though The Danaher Death Squad guys are known for their leg locks... and now triangles, John Danaher also is a master of explaining and breaking down the triangle submission.
Now, how do we break that pesky grip that’s keeping us from finishing?
Danaher trades the elbow to elbow position with his right arm for the same configuration with his left arm. He then re threads the right arm through but this time very close to the wrist of his partner. Danaher looks to secure a “cross chest” position with his partner’s arm here.
As he sits with the arm, he controls the bicep to thwart what many of us have come to know as the hitchhiker escape. Cupping and controlling the arm will prevent his partner from turning away and escaping the position.
Now, for the break.
Once the arm has come free and is now entering the stage of extension, Danaher secures a two on one grip on the wrist. Using a half hand method Danaher controls the hand as well as the wrist of his partner, forming a very tight bond with the arm and preventing rotation. With the combination of his outside hand pushing the arm down, and his hip side hand pulling the arm down, he’s able to secure an incredibly nasty arm bar. If you feel the need to exert even more power here. The arm can be guided in to your armpit area, which will load up a tremendous amount of pressure to the joint and cause a devastating break.
Are there such things as perfect techniques? I’m probably not the one to decide, but to me these 3 variations are as close as I’ve seen.