Four Techniques by John Danaher for Better Submissions – BJJ Fanatics

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Front Headlock

What has made Professor John Danaher so much more popular as an instructor than other grapplers in the sport? Although we don’t have a lot of videos of John’s classes and how he structures them, his DVD series illustrates something special.

Although we generally assume that competitive experience has a high bearing on how good an instructor is, John Danaher has very little Jiu Jitsu competition experience yet is regarded as the top instructor in the sport. So again, what differentiates John Danaher from rest?

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In this article, we are going to take a journey into the instructional capacity of John Danaher by exploring techniques he shows in his Enter the System instructional series that you can buy on BJJ Fanatics.

One of the best positions in all of Jiu Jitsu regardless of positioning is the front headlock. Although these technique illustrates a lot of great attributes, the best one is that it allows the attacker to control their opponent while they simultaneously attack them with submissions.

One of the more common methods of ending up in the front headlock is off a failed takedown attempt. You can also utilize the front headlock while standing to snap the defender down into turtle.  

Because I am huge fan of the headlock, I try to grab it whenever I possibly can. This includes entries from playing guard and passing guard as well. The front headlock is also a great tool to finish various sweeps and passes.

Instead of trying to get the front headlock off of a failed takedown attempt, there are methods you can use to force your opponent into it. In the following video, Professor Danaher illustrates how to do this. See below:

Because this headlock entry is more proactive, compared to the reactive version where you wait for a takedown attempt, it is more likely to be successful. You also don’t run the risk of getting taken down.

After getting to the front headlock, you can proceed with a number of different techniques. From a standing position, you can trip your opponent or snap them down and start attacking various strangles like guillotines, anaconda chokes, and darce chokes.

The Rear Triangle

The rear triangle, sometimes called the reverse triangle, is arguable the best submission in all of Jiu Jitsu, even trumping the rear naked choke. This position excellently combines elements of the triangle and back control to provide the attacker with extensive control.

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The rear triangle can be attacked from many different positions but is most popular from back control, especially after trapping an arm. Personally, I enjoy attacking the reverse triangle after getting a kimura grip.

If you have even been trapped in a rear triangle, you may have noticed that it is the toughest position to escape. More so, there are many different finishes you can use after establishing the position, including a kimura, an Americana, and of course, the choke.

The rear triangle gained a lot of popularity after one of Danaher’s top students that we all know, Gordon Ryan, used it in numerous competitions to beat elite opponents. In John Danaher’s Triangles instructional, he shows us how to attack this position from the turtle. See below:

If you have ever attacked the crucifix from turtle, you will have no problem getting into this position because the entry to the crucifix and the entry to rear triangle are so similar.

Personally, I have always had a hard time finishing the rear triangle as a choke because I have thinner legs that cannot apply enough pressure. Instead, I try to get a kimura grip or Americana grip and twist the arm for a shoulder lock.

The Kimura

When compared to other kimura attacks, the kimura from side control always seems to give me the greatest amount of trouble when finishing it. I searched from a lot of different tips to help with this, but could never really find a good one that helped because none of them gave me the best angle to finish.

Rather than opting out of the side control kimura to do other things, I kept trying and asking around until I figured a few things out. The first piece of advice that really helped is using monkey grips rather than traditional C-grips.

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No matter where you apply this grip, it will always allow you to control your opponenent better if you have a kimura grip. Fast forward a few years and I watched a video by Danaher about this weird and complex concept called the power line.

Rather than trying to explain it myself, I will let John Danaher do the work. In the following video, John provides an intricatr explanation of the power line and how it helps improve the kimura tremendously. See below:

The main thing the power line shift allows the attacker to do is change the kimura from a pushing submission to a pulling submission. Take the Americana as an example. Most of the pressure you apply when attacking an Americana is pulling instead of pushing.

When you make the power line shift, your kimura improves in two aspects. First, the pulling mechanism makes it easier to twist the shoulder. The second thing it does is allow you to control your opponents better.

The Armbar

The arm bar, aka the straight arm lock, is one of the oldest submissions used in grappling. This is one of the submissions in the short, yet comprehensive curriculum of white belts. The arm bar has gotten so popular that even lay people who don’t train know what it is.

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There are two styles of arm bar attacks. The first is top arm bars you attack from mount, side control, knee on belly, and so on. The second is bottom arm bars you can attack from various forms of guard.

Even though every grappler learns the closed guard arm bar early in their grappling career, only a few manage to continuously use it as they progress through the ranks. This is due to the fact that this submission is so hard to set up and finish.

When using the closed guard arm bar, we face a few problems from our opponent that make it hard to finish. The main issue is when the top player either has good posture or easily regains it. The other main problem is when the defender can pull their trapped arm out.

In John Danaher’s latest instructional, which is a series on the arm bar, he explains how to deal with the problems I mentioned above. See below:

John Danaher continuously emphasizes the importance of the top lock, which is essentially just a high guard, because of the amount of control it gives the attacker over the posture. Without good posture, the defender can’t stack the attacker.

The other thing John does when attacking the closed guard arm bar is twisting the legs. He also does this in his triangle instructional. This helps prevent the defender from pulling their arm out because it places a wedge behind the shoulder.

Finishing the closed guard arm bar can be just as complex as setting it up. There are many ways of actually finishing the submission, but personally I preferring rolling the defender to end up in a top mount, which is much more secure.

I hope you enjoyed these great, simple techniques by John Danaher. If you would like to see more of them, I highly recommend purchasing his instructional series, “Enter the System.”

John Danher is one of the few people to have athletes be successful at the highest levels in both Professional Grappling as well as MMA. He has systemized his approach to teaching,learning,and APPLYING his Jiu-Jitsu. Enter the System with John Danaher!

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