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John Danaher on Joe Rogan Podcast

I am a HUGE fan of John Danaher and his work with Gordon Ryan, Gary Tonon, and the rest of the Danaher Death Squad. Spent the first half of the weekend enjoying his latest long-form conversation with Joe Rogan. Must listening for combat sport athletes, IMO.

I haven’t watched that episode. But I did watch the first one. No doubt he is brilliant and he has changed the game. But there is something about his personality I cannot stand. Largely why I haven’t bothered to watch this podcast.

Maybe I should give him a second chance.

Speaking of Gary Tonon though. I am very curious what his MMA plans are. If he is going to stay in Asia or try to jump to the UFC or Bellator.

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I hear you. He has what comes across as a very mannered approach. A little Dr. Spock-like. I’ll admit that I kind of like it; it’s not typical in the jiu-jitsu community, so I think I appreciate that.

All the same, his insights are pretty sharp. Not necessarily earth-shaking. But he’s a great example of what happens when you apply a rigorous, methodical analytic approach to something as traditionally not-so-analytic as BJJ.

I want to like John Danaher. I can certainly respect the talent he produces and my instructor can attest to the overall high levels found in the blue basement, but…

I just don’t like the Master Yoda schtick. I also feel like his speaking and writing style is geared towards making him sound as smart as possible instead of explaining the concepts as clearly as possible. I follow him on Instagram and feel like he needs to watch a six part instructional DVD series on paragraph breaks and economy of words.

Then again, I like to learn Jiu Jitsu from pain junkies with sociopathic streaks who can can beat me senseless. My leg lock game sucks too.

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Anyone: so can you explain the base fundamentals of BJJ to the complete newbie who’s never hit a mat.

Danahar: so imagine you go and order cheese sticks and they shorten you 1———

(3hiurs later) and that’s why guard retention is so important to the new bjj student.

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Another byproduct of his fame and success are new students going down an ashi-Garami rabbit hole at the expense of training more fundamental positions.

Everyone is entitled to training priorities, but IMO it makes little sense for a white or blue belt to prioritize the submissions that top guys in sport grappling are winning with.

That’s not Danahers fault per se, but it makes people believe that there’s some secret sauce. Some hack that moves you ahead of the line. No different that Carl from accounting doing Ronnie Coleman’s workout routine to start with.

That’s how someone becomes a blue belt with a one stripe white belt mount escape. That and people who give blue belts to guys with garbage escapes.

Who knows, maybe that’s a recipe for competitive success. I can think of a long list of things I’d rather be solid at than setting up leg locks.

Yes I think anyone would tell you that fundamentals come first. Learning the death squads leg lock system does little for you when you don’t know how to escape closed guard or take a person down.

It’s basically the same in any sport. Ppl look at what the top players are doing and want to mimic them. I enjoy John’s outlook on certain things, but yes at times he comes across as a pseudo intellectual. I understand some ppl like to use analogies to teach but every point doesn’t have to be an analogy. Just tell me directly, if it doesn’t register give me an analogy.

However his coaching style has created some monsters on the mat. His results as far as coaching hard to argue.

Well, an important part of learning Jiu Jitsu is learning how to learn around your weirdo instructor’s personality quirks.

Because they’re all weirdos.

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I can say my coach is actually fairly normal when compaired to the average jj coach. We were in the middle of a roll and he caught me in a baseball bat choke. I started laughjng and we talked for a second before starting back up and I said said Craig Jones pulls that choke off no gi and we talked about how weird they all are. He said “well we’re all pretty weird coming in here sweating on each other all the time when you get right down to it.”

You have to cast some civility off to train this stuff. When you’re crying each others sweat, it’s kinda hard to be “normal”

Edit: in saying that, it tracks that the best jj coach in the world is literally one of the weirdest guys on earth.

I can’t go into details about the weirdness of my BJJ circle, but it is a cult of violence led by a sadistic oddball unlike anyone else I’ve met.

My instructor takes oddball to a new level as do most of the senior clergy in the cult. Out of all the black and senior brown belts, only one comes to mind as able to blend in at a board meeting or a Catholic Mass.

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Lol let me say that my coach come from Gracie Baja back ground. The fact that he’s more athlete than cult leader is nothing short of a miracle. We have a “team” atmosphere though. Many compete and aren’t just there for the struggle snuggles . I don’t know anyone there that is just chasing belts either. Just to say hey I’m a purple belt, most want that rank to reflect their skills. I’m lucky in our group feels more like a traditional sports team opposed to cult.

By cult I mean it in the nicest possible way. Club might be a better term. It’s a violence club.

A very good one. I’m skeptical about leaning my violence from non cult members.

Cant trust outsiders.

Lol I hear ya. I’ll say generally you can be yourself more at a jj gym opposed to anywhere else. Unless you have a retish with feet or something it’s unlikely you’ll be the weirdest guy there.

I think Danaher is a great instructor, the results speak for themselves, but I find his instruction lacks the passion, for lack of a better word, than other great instructors. I sometimes think that Danaher is focused on making you do bjj better while others not only want that but also want you to be a better person.

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I agree, he has by far the biggest concentration of high level no gi grapplers. He’s dead focused on winning. Most of the guys egos have only inflated going there. There’s an understanding being as good as say Gordon Ryan and having an ego, but there are top guys in other sports that are humble. Roger Gracie seemed to have a good bit of humility to him even when being top tier.

Actually I’m sure you’ve seen but John named roger as the best bjj player all time based on his gi ,no gi and mma proficiency aspects of jj.

As always - this forum provides a good read.
Ive actually trained there- quite a bit over the years.
I cant roll any more - (old and really broken) but its had been one of my fav places for a long long time.

John is a genius - and I think he legit has a hard time sometimes with communicating- he isn’t an animated person.
In one of the older podcasts with Rogan - you can hear him sigh and slow down his thoughts to help Rogan understand.

When I first went there - a friend brought me and Danaher still had hair and still rolled - I went to a randori -between classes one of the best open sessions I have been to. at the time I was healthy ish- younger still active.
I found him watching me as I rolled- and it was well disturbing he is like I said an intense guy. It doesn’t make him unpleasant- he always has manners. He watched me because I was new not super special.

Yet he called me to task in the next class- and spoke about my posture.
and could I show this- could I show that.
In the 15 seconds of watching me - he knew I played Judo -
he knew I had very formal instruction ( kodokon in NYC OIshi judo)
and he knew I had allot of greco experience.

I went enough that he knew me by sight and Renzo new me and yes knew my game- but John was always like

"right your are that greco Judo take down guy with the tight posture’
in the most hannibal lecter voice you ever heard.

I have been fortunate with other coaches - who where more personable
and where who more interested as @zecarlo mentioned more intereted in personal growth sucess etc.

Ive also as @twojarslave mentioned worked with or along with
people who where stale bat shit crazy-legit crazy
dude who never has sleeves-
uber competitive type who is kinda violent -
bro who’s personal life is unbelievable martial arts attract a strange bunch.
But I also spent allot of time in university settings where its a business
and you are a commodity that the coach would like to kick you in the ass
but knows you may have some value and treats you well enough - just
well enough to get what you need from him.

thanks for indulbing my novel here-
Danahar is a legit grappling ( as well as martial arts) historian and genius.


That’s awesome insight man! Yeah I would never claim the guy isn’t an amazing coach. Results speak for themselves.

I was also surprised to learn that he is actually a very talented muai tai practitioner and from my understanding, that was his first
Love as a martial artist.

I think the personalities in bjj are the wildest thing. I’ve followed power lifting, mma body building strongman pretty much al the niche sports that are becoming popular, and the bjj community is very inviting but holy lord it’s full of weirdos. (Myself included to a degree) as I’ve said I’m lucky that our gym has a more level headed feel. Less ego but some for sure.

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I’ve read his and Renzo’s book Mastering Jiu Jitsu, which was fairly easy to digest. Danaher is much less verbose when employing an editor. Renzo is also at the head of my lineage, which flows down from his student Amal Easton.

I was upset to learn that reading the book did not, in fact, result in me becoming a Jiu Jitsu master, but I still found it entertaining and informative.

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I’ve actually enjoyed Kit Dales methods of learning bjj more than anyone else’s. So many advocate for hours of mindless drilling. I’ve gotten much better much fast using his methods.

On a side note entering my first grappling comp on June 26. Looking forward to it.


Enjoy! It was a good experience for me. I found it more intense than any fight I got into as a bouncer. Probably because I never had to fight someone 60 pounds heavier than me, just as strong with good BJJ instruction and college wresting experience.

Oh, how the tables got turned on me!

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