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The Enigmatic Brilliance of John Danaher

John-Danaher-Renzo-Gracie-Black-Belt-Author-Philosopher

John Danaher is a black belt under Renzo Gracie and one of the head instructors at Renzo's main academy in NYC. While he is indisputably a legendary professor of jiu jitsu--with famous students ranging from UFC all-time-great George Saint Pierre and current UFC champion Chris Weidman to USA Olympic Judo champion Travis Stevens (who earned his black belt from Danaher)--he is also a bit enigmatic. It's not just his attire--e.g., you'd be hard pressed to find a photo or video of Danaher wearing anything other than a rash guard for a shirt. Indeed, Renzo claims Danaher once attended a wedding in a rash guard! It's the fact that he didn't compete (owing to health problems) and you can't find much video of his teaching online that makes Danaher a curious case.

Instead, what you find are tons of world class grapplers attesting to the fact (either first hand or second hand) that Danaher is a grappling genius and a brilliant instructor. What is clear is that he has a very cerebral approach to jiu jitsu (and martial arts more generally)--which is unsurprising given that he was once enrolled in a PhD program at Columbia University (where he eventually earned a MA in philosophy while working on the side as a bouncer).

As an academic philosopher myself, I appreciate the careful and analytical approach Danaher brings to the grappling arts (see, e.g., the book Mastering Jujitsu--which Danaher wrote "with" (i.e., for) Renzo. It's for this reason that I wish he were less of a mystery and more of a public figure. I can't afford to go to NYC just to train and even if I could, I am confident that I couldn't afford a private with the gentleman that is often lauded as some kind of grappling guru.

So, for now, I have to settle for the tidbits that are available on the interwebs--which I have posted below. First, there are some interesting and entertaining articles about the mystery (mad)man. These are followed by some video interviews.  In the coming weeks, I will be posting about some of the issues he discusses--e.g., (a) his claim that it is important that we have names for every specific, fine-grained position in jiu jitsu (which I think is correct), and (b) his claim that he is a dictator when it comes to the fundamentals but a libertarian when it comes to more advanced practitioners who are working on developing the style and approaches that best suit them individually (which I also think is correct, but I have some questions about what counts as "fundamental").

That said, here are some articles about Danaher:

And several videos are below the fold! So, watch, learn, and go train!  And stay tuned for more about the enigmatic Danaher in the weeks and months ahead!

 

  John-D-meme

With this quote in mind, here are some videos!

 

 

WINWAY - John Danaher (part 1) from chilldogmedia on Vimeo.

 

WINWAY - John Danaher (part 2) from chilldogmedia on Vimeo.

  

 

 

 

Comments

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Paul

Just came across your site today. You might dig an old interview I did with Danaher a few years ago. Check it out and I'd love to hear what you think (info at open mat radio) http://www.openmatradio.com/podcast/episode-18-john-danaher/

Thomas Nadelhoffer

Thanks, Paul. I will make sure to listen to the interview tomorrow and leave some feedback. I am very jealous. I plan to start doing some interviews for this blog and he's near the top of my list of people I would most like to speak to one day. So, thanks again for sharing!

John Danaher

This is little more than a curiosity, but it might be interested to know that there is another John Danaher (namely: me) who is (sort of) an academic philosopher, is completely unmysterious, shares some of your academic interests (Thomas), but won't be able to help you with BJJ.

I too find my namesake to be an enigmatic and interesting character.

John Danaher

*interesting

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