John Danaher’s Background:
In every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu circle, one coaches name keeps popping up with a mystique and aura built on the success of his athletes, and his secrets to their game: John Danaher. This Renzo Gracie black belt instructor is taking over more and more by the day as his students continue to excel.
John Danaher’s approach to modern grappling is truly unique, blending method, technique, and strategy in ways that no one else is. Originally a student of philosophy, this native New Zealander’s obsession with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s principles and fundamentals has led him on a journey to discovering some of the most effective and efficient forms of modern grappling we have. John is a modern warrior-poet, able to explain not just how a move works but also why it works, when it works, and how it could be done better.
This perspective and approach has led to a wave of success that has shaken up sport jiu-jitsu in a big way. His athletes don’t play for advantages or decision, they are aggressively hunting the tap, and constantly using superior game plans and systems to overwhelm people. Danaher Death Squad black belts dominate sub-only tournaments like EBI and Polaris, and Gordon Ryan is one of the biggest stars in grappling after electrifying wins over elite athletes at the Abu Dhabi Combat Championships. Even teen fighters like Nicky Ryan (once armed with John’s knowledge) are winning decisively over adult black belts!
An original mystique was built and cultivated around a long-ignored facet of BJJ, the leg lock. So often it was seen as a cheap attack or a desperation move for someone who couldn’t pass guard well enough. A few guys were better than others, but few at an elite level really bothered focusing below the waist. John recognized the potential these moves had, and spent years experimenting and refining his approach before finding a bulletproof system that he could help others to replicate.
The current coach of Renzo Gracie’s New York City academy has never been a typical fighter. He holds a JD in philosophy from Columbia, and his instructions can often more closely resemble a physics lesson or logic puzzle than a martial arts technique. He leaves no stone unturned in giving information to anyone who will listen and follow. This obsessive embrace of fundamental principles of fighting has even inspired the elite MMA community, with championship fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields making regular pilgrimages to learn from Danaher and the DDS squad.
From that original appeal, the name recognition and respect has only grown as people see the mix of art and science involved. This is not just a bunch of specialists who only leg lock and jump onto people’s feet every chance they get, this is a group of well-rounded and well-coached athletes who all trust their coach to guide them to new heights.