John Danaher is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) black belt under Renzo Gracie and an instructor at Renzo’s academy in New York City, being widely regarded by within the grappling community as one of the best coaches of his generation. John Danaher recently took to Facebook to explain his teaching method.
I teach jiu jitsu backwards: Jiu Jitsu always occurs in a SEQUENCE. The most common sequence begins by taking the opponent to the ground, then getting past his dangerous legs, then working through a hierarchy of pins that put increasing pressure on the opponent; and then finally, using that pressure finish with a submission hold. Most teachers of the sport teach in a way that reflects that fundamental sequence. Usually I do too. Most of the early lessons concern getting people to the floor, getting past the legs and working through various pins. Submissions are taught as the end of a long chain of events – the icing on the cake as it were. As such, the majority of training time is spent ON THE PRECURSORS TO SUBMISSION. I think in a standard class this approach makes the most sense for a wide cross section of students. When an athlete comes to me with ambitions to be a champion however, I teach very differently. I BEGIN WITH THE END GAME – SUBMISSIONS. I put an extreme emphasis upon THE DARK ARTS OF BREAKING AND STRANGLING. I look to create a student who has tremendous confidence in their ability to finish an opponent should they be able to get into a finishing position. THIS CREATES A MINDSET IN THE STUDENT TO HUNT RUTHLESSLY AND PERSISTENTLY FOR SUBMISSIONS AT ALL TIMES. If a student does not truly believe they are capable of breaking or strangling an opponent, how hard do you think they will push for the finish in competition? But if they truly believe they can finish anyone given the chance, THEY WILL FIND A WAY TO GET TO A FINISHING POSITION OR DIE TRYING. This creates a very different type of athlete, with a very different mindset and approach to the game. Rather than see submissions as an afterthought to a sequence, try to see them as the very soul of our sport and adjust your training regimen accordingly, even if just for a time – I am certain you will find it a fascinating and rewarding change.