The John Danaher experience.
Who is John Danaher?
Basically he’s a Kiwi (New Zealander) with a Masters degree in philosophy who ended up working security at nightclubs in New York, was then exposed to Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and became one of Renzo Gracie’s most famous and intelligent grappling instructors.
His breakdown of techniques and innovations is the stuff of legend.
Several years ago John was undertaking a bunch of seminars and private lessons whilst visiting Australia.
For over a week I, kind of enviously, witnessed half of Sydney’s grappling and Bjj community via various social media channels have the ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to train with this genius.
John with 2 of his most successful students Gordon Ryan and George St Pierre. Image credit – Twitter
One Wednesday afternoon, several hours before I was due to teach two kids Bjj classes back to back, I receive a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise.
I nearly didn’t answer but remembered once not doing so a decade and a half earlier and missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity (more about that another time) so I answered.
It was Bjj and specialist security instructor Felipe Grez.
“Hey Dave it’s Felipe do you want to come and attend a private lesson in a couple of hours with John Danaher?”
WTF?! Shit! The kids classes! John Danaher, leg locks! The kids classes! Shit! John Danaher! What do I do? The kids classes!
This all went through my head in like less than 3 seconds.
“Where is it mate? I’ll be there” was my reply.
In that instant I brushed my kids classes to train with a legend. I phoned all the parents apologising and feigning illness.
It was the only time I have ever done this wether it be kids or adults classes I was obligated to teach. But this opportunity may be the only time it comes along in my life.
I met Felipe and two other students joining in at the Reznekov Brothers – Dylan and Liam’s VT1 mma Academy. One of the finest in Australia. John was just finishing up with some of the black belts from Gracie Sydney/Humaita and we all wondered over to introduce ourselves as the Gracie Sydney crew exited.
When John introduced himself to me I gushed,
“Hi John I’m Dave. An absolute pleasure to meet you and have this opportunity to learn from you. I just canceled teaching two kids classes to be here.”
He looked at me sternly and then a slightly wry smile appeared as he exclaimed,
“Fuck those kids”.
Hahahaha the ice was broken and over the next 90 minutes he went over his ashi garami leg lock attack system.
We talked about the current top grappling guys, Jiu Jitsu history, why he uses Japanese terminology, his injuries and his thoughts on attacking the legs versus passing the guard.
A really top guy with such a cool, articulate, insightful and absolutely thorough understanding and approach to the gentle art of breaking bones.
Definitely a stand out clinic of the nearly one hundred I’ve done.
If you ever get the chance I recommend you get the John Danaher experience.
Check out his interview with Joe Rogan here:

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