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John Danaher
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John Danaher

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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. Praised by some of the prime figures in combat sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA) guru Greg Jackson and jiu jitsu legend Vinícius Draculino for his knowledge and teaching capabilities, Danaher is best known for his work with athletes such as George Saint Pierre, Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and Eddie Cummings known among BJJ fans as the Danaher Death Squad (DDS).

John Danaher Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: John Danaher

Nickname: n/a

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

Main Achievements: n/a

Favorite Position/technique:  Heel-hooks

Weight Division: n/a

Team/Association: Renzo Gracie Academy

John Danaher Biography

Born in New Zealand John Danaher started grappling late in life (28) in New York City. He was working his way through grad school (later finishing a Masters Degree in Philosophy at Columbia University) working part-time as a club bouncer, while lifting weights to stay fit while weighing around 250lbs (113kg) at the time of his first jiu jitsu experience.

Having seen how some of his bouncer colleagues handled fights on the job by using their grappling experience, John saw the potential those techniques carried for his own safety and decided to take a class. One of his friends already trained jiu jitsu at the time and took Danaher to his first lesson.

Hearly days coaching at RGA

After the trial class, jiu jitsu’s potential as a self defense mechanism was even clearer to Danaher who believed it to be a good tool to fend off drunken degenerates at his doorman job. He had little or no real idea of how grappling worked at the time, in fact he mentioned when interviewed by the “Renzo Gracie Cape Town” 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 helped John push through his training sessions, never truly enjoying it. 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. Danaher was invited to coach and help replace the two aforementioned standouts, he was a purple belt at the time and took it upon himself to be the best instructor he could possibly be. Although he had no competitive experience, his highly inquisitive mind did not rest until he mastered the coaching aspect of BJJ.

His obsession with grappling placed him on the mat 12-14 hours per day, Renzo Gracie said about Danaher’s behavior: “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.” His 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 JD 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 told the story of how John Danaher had come to his wedding wearing a rash guard.

In working at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, Danaher also helped the development of MMA fighters such as George St. Pierre, which shed some light into his persona to the broader spectrum of fans involved in cage combat.

John Danaher Ashi Garami Tutorial

19 Comments

  • 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:

    BEEP

  • 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.

  • CB3 says:

    I would really like to know what year he began training in addition to just the year he got his black belt. That would be so interesting in all of these profiles. Thanks

  • Jerry Siller says:

    Sounds like an interesting fellow. I saw him speaking on Joe R. Podcast and became interested in him. The way he was questioning Roagan on the 4 steps was fascinating to see . I Immediately said to my fiancé Angie Myers, ” This man is an intellectual,and found out the following day that he has a masters degree in philosophy.” I wish that I can meet him and engage in philosophy discussions .

  • camillako says:

    Guys check out the exceptional podcast with joe rogan he did, it really shows the man behind the name. its available on youtube

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