The Wisdom Of Professor John Danaher

For those of you who have been living in a BJJ cave, Professor John Danaher is a Renzo Gracie black belt, the coach behind the Danaher Death Squad, and the author of some of the most insightful social media posts on the art and sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

If you haven’t followed him on social media, you should do so.

I enjoy conceptual discussions on jiu-jitsu more than I need to see another technique video. An explanation of a concept can be like twisting the camera lense to bring vague ideas into sharp focus.

Here are four of the best concepts that I learned from the writings of Professor Danaher

1) Gaining an advantage as a set up to an attack in both striking and grappling:

…the basic pillars of a rational approach to personal combat remain the same. ALWAYS SEEK SOME FORM OF PRIOR ADVANTAGE BEFORE INITIATING AN ATTACK,” “SEEK POSITIONS FROM WHERE YOU CAN ATTACK YOUR OPPONENT MORE READILY AND WITH GREATER EFFECT THAN HE CAN ATTACK YOU.” Fundamental Maxims like these hold true across the board.

2) On varying your attacks for submission:

“WHEN YOUR THREATS CAN BE TARGETED OVER THE WHOLE BODY, OPENINGS WILL APPEAR WITH FAR GREATER REGULARITY THAN IF YOU TARGET ONLY A LIMITED AREA. This is true in all martial arts, not just grappling. As your opponent moves to resist a threat in one direction he will become vulnerable not another.”

3) Building your jiu-jitsu on strong fundamentals:

“Structure and movement: A good coach can look at a student whom they have never met or seen before and within a few seconds of observing them train, know very accurately their skill level. What are the cues they look for to make that assessment? An answer to this question will tell you a lot about what is truly important in your daily training and what is merely frivolous. The two most fundamental aspects the coach will first observe are structure/posture and movement/transition skills from one position to another. Excellence is these two foundational aspects of the sport immediately suggests not only competence in the sport, but also an ability to easily learn new skills upon those already attained.”

4) Strategy for dealing with bigger opponents:

“There are a great number of methods that can be employed to lessen the effects of size difference in grappling, but the two I put the most emphasis upon are back positions and ashi garami. These are the two positions where a bigger opponent will find it more difficult to employ his weight advantage over you. In the case of ashi garami, your opponent’s weight goes into the floor rather than directly down on to you. Success or failure in the ashi garami position is almost entirely a question of who knows more about the subtleties of leg and foot positioning. Due to the fact that bodyweight cannot be used by either player in this position to pin the other, knowledge of limb positioning becomes the rubric of success rather than size.”

Which of Danaher’s concepts have been most valuable to you?


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