Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

John Danaher is one of the best kept secrets in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This New Zeland born, BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie, has been praised by many major personalities in the fighting world. People like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) guru Greg Jackson and BJJ personality “Draculino”, from Gracie Barra, for his grappling prowess. He is also the submission coach of none other then UFC Welterweight Champion George Saint Pierre. Danaher trains at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York where he also teaches Jiu jitsu.

John Danaher Jiu Jitsu & MMA

Full Name: John Danaher

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Jr > Renzo Gracie > John Danaher

Main Competitive Achievements: No Record

Weight Division: n/a

Favourite Technique/Position: n/a

Team/Association: Renzo Gracie Academy

John Danaher Biography

John Danaher started training late in life (he was 28 years old). He was working his way through grad school (he later finished a Masters Degree in Philosophy at Columbia University) as a club bouncer. Lifting weights was his hobby and he weighed around 250lbs (113kg) at the time. One day he decided to try a BJJ class with a friend who already had a few classes. Danaher had seen how some of his bouncer colleagues that had previous grappling experience handled fights and thought it might be useful for his job. The mentioned friend who took him to the classe was half Danaher’s size but ended up almost choking him out in the first lesson.

Danaher saw the potential of Jiu Jitsu as a self defence mechanism he could use to fend off drunken degenerates at his bouncing job. He had little or no real idea of how grappling worked at the time, in fact he mentioned when interviewed by Renzo Gracie Cape Town’s website ( that he didn’t have a very flattering perspective of wrestling:

“I’d seen wrestling in the Olympic Games, and I had a very low opinion of it, It was kind of like a homoerotic sport where guys just grab each other, whereas in a real fight, a guy would just punch the other guy and knock him out and it would be over, right? Bruce Lee would just sock him in the head.”

Acknowledging Jiu Jitsu’s value he persisted with training, never really enjoying it thoroughly. It wasn’t until RGA was depleted from two of it’s most prominent instructors, Matt Serra and Ricardo Almeida that Danaher truly embraced the sport. Having been invited to coach at the academy when he was still a purple belt he took it upon himself to be the best instructor he could possibly be, and his highly inquisitive mind did not rest until he mastered BJJ. His almost obsession with BJJ has him on the mat 12-14 hours per day, Renzo Gracie had to say about Danaher’s behaviour: “he (Danaher) does jiu-jitsu every day; we can’t get him out of here. I think he would come in on Christmas if we would let him.” This hard work paid off as Danaher received his black belt on the April 2nd, 2002 together with his friend and training partner Shawn Williams.

John Danaher is also known for his eccentric side, a self-diagnosed obsessive-compulsive, he seems to rarely leave his Jiu Jitsu rash guard in the closet. In one episode of Matt Serra’s video blog for UFC 109, Serra (who is also a Renzo Gracie black belt) told the story of how John Danaher had come to his wedding wearing his rash guard.

John Danaher became a formidable coach at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York, he also helped MMA fighters such as George St. Pierre develop their grappling game for MMA, focusing also on fight strategy.

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This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)


  • I watched john escalate in juijitsu since he was a purple belt …he is a true professor in all aspects! …and I miss training with him big time!….his friend Tim

  • Mac's MMA says:

    I had the opportunity to chat with John just the other day and he is a kind, self-effacing and interesting fellow.

  • Mikail Riva says:

    I was working out at FightSchool in NYC with Fred Alluso and Matt Hughes – they both swear by John Danaher's abilities. They saw him speaking and demonstrating at Renzo Gracies during some recent presentations. He appears to be the perfect match for GSP. The temperament, the thoughts preceding very decisive execution. I guess that's what decades of dedication and focus buys you.

  • roger says:

    give me 2 minutes with him. his palm will be sore from tapping! his flaw is his vanity

    • you must be a complete asshole. You know they call this guy the encyclopedia of Jiu Jitsu. I mean seriously, I trained with Professor Danaher once and I was floored by his well of knowledge. I mean what the hell man. Have you even attended his training????? Probably not. Probably some internet troll.

    • Kylan says:

      Well if this is Roger GRACIE then I wouldn't be surprised. But yea right. Roger Gracie

    • regie toussaint says:

      there is no way that you are a martial artist are you for real ? I don't even know Mr Danaher and I respect the man, for George St pierre to seek the man for his BJJ coach says a lot about the man . I think that you are the one that their palm would be sore from tapping. Why am I waisting my time answering this, cause I know that you really don't believe the senselies words that are filtering out of your mouth. Oh let me guess you never had a lesson your a weekend MMA guys that watched Utube now your an expert . GET A LIFE. why don't you tex him and tell him that.

  • yanni says:

    John Danaher- It is a truly amazing individual. He is just AMAZING. I guess it is never too late to be a black belt. Yanni

  • Tyson says:

    shave your head already

  • John Danaher says:

    Yes I am really THAT good….but too bad I’m too old to compete in the UFC. I would kick ass in the welter and middleweight divisions, along with perks like having Arianny Celeste and Brittany Palmer at my place overnight for some private BJJ lessons!

  • KEITH says:

    Your amazing Sir!

  • Bad Haircut Detector says:


  • Andre Rozado says:

    John Danaher is the most respectful professor of this days. Any jiu jitsu student should have a opportunity to be in his training sections. He incorporate a very combative stand up and the floor part is solid. He can simplify complex movements and make useful in real combat. I was at his trainings for couple of years and I wish I could never stop.
    He is the best no question.

  • Kiwi says:

    I wish he would bring some off that bjj knowledge back to New Zealand!!!!

  • Weidman says:

    Better BJJ than Randy Savage.

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