It’s no secret that John Danaher and the whole Danaher Death Squad are leg locking machines. Danaher, the philosophical instructor at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York City, has been instrumental in developing his fight team’s leg locking skills.
John Danaher tells the story of how he began learning leg locks:
Dean Lister had been invited to their gym, and was having success submitting people with Achilles locks. This was new to Danaher at the time so he spoke to Lister after class.
Danaher: “That’s interesting what’s your doing with these Achilles locks, I don’t really do that at all, it’s not something I do”
Lister: “Why would you ignore 50 percent of the human body?”
According to Danaher, that one sentence completely changed his view on jiu jitsu.
The term “Boyd Belts” in BJJ refers to a philosophy of training that Rener Gracie came up with in regards to rolling with people of different ages and weight classes. After having a conversation with black belt John Boyd, Rener realized that he had to come up with a way to describe what it’s like to roll with people of different ages and weight. Boyd had been having trouble grappling with a blue belt that was 20 years younger, and 60 pounds heavier than him. Boyd, feeling like he should have been able to submit the blue belt,spoke to Rener about it, and Rener came up with this concept that he later coined the “Boyd Belts”
Who was John Boyd? Boyd was a jiu jitsu practitioner and teacher at the Gracie Academy in California. He studied under Rorion Gracie, and received his black belt 11 years after he began. Boyd started training in his 40’s, and when Helio Gracie saw Boyd training he was impressed to see someone of his age on the mats. Helio offered to teach him a private lesson which Boyd videotaped and you can see below:
I’ve been assisting with the kids jiu jitsu classes at my academy for about a year now. It’s something that I really enjoy, and has been rewarding for me. It has also been rewarding for my son who is one of the kids in the class. He seems to like it when I’m in there helping the instructors show technique to the other kids. I’m really less of an instructor and more of a glorified grappling dummy for the instructors to demo on, but it’s still a role I really enjoy.
When I first started helping out with the kids jiu jitsu classes I had a lot of questions. I needed to learn the proper balance between helping the kids learn discipline, and making class fun. I’ve taught kids music classes in the past, so I know how important it is to make learning fun. Kids learn best that way, as we all do. But allow them to have too much fun and the whole class can get away from you. Before you know it their energy level skyrockets, and it gets difficult to focus them again.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble finishing the straight ankle lock lately. And by “lately” I mean “always”. I actually go for this submission pretty often, but I end up exposing my ankle in the process and getting tapped out myself. It feels like people who can sink this ankle lock are able to add a ton of pressure to my ankle, while when I try it seems like I can exert all my strength and barely affect my partner. In this video Dean Lister goes over the details of the ankle lock, and one thing he pointed out is that you need to get your partners foot high under your armpit to get the most torque. I think this may be something I’m not doing. I certainly hadn’t thought about it while rolling. Next time I’m on the mats I’m going to give this ankle lock a shot with these details in mind.
Earning rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is perhaps harder to do than in any other martial art. It’s no secret that jiu jitsu black belts are considered to be among the toughest members of the fighting community, having put in thousands of hours over the years to obtain the rank. What’s not always as clear, however, is what criteria needs to be met to be considered a black belt, or any of the other ranks in jiu jitsu. That’s because there’s no clear cut system of moves defined per belt level like in other martial arts. Jiu jitsu has no katas, and most schools don’t do belt tests, it’s left to the discretion of the instructor.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s belt ranking system used to be differentiated from Judo in that BJJ belts originally consisted of only 3: white, light blue for instructors and dark blue for head instructors. According to Professor Pedro Valente, the belt system of Judo was adopted by Elcio Leal Binda when he created the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation in 1967. What’s unclear to me though is how that evolved into the current jiu jitsu belt system, as the judo belts are different than Brazilian jiu jitsu belts today. It sounds like the idea of different belts differentiating fighting skill may have been adapted from judo, but the actual colors/degrees of the belts were specific to jiu jitsu. If I find out for sure I’ll update this post.
Yesterday I attended a seminar with Jorge Pereira at GriffonRawl MMA Academy. Jorge Pereira is a coral belt under Rickson Gracie, is the subject of the TV Series “Rio Heroes” and has a long history fighting in Vale Tudo. During the seminar he told stories of how he would fight sometimes three times a day while surfing, and discussed the importance of honor in jiu jitsu. Pereira believes that when training you should find the school/person you want to train under and stick with them, as opposed to the way some fighters (in MMA in particular) move from coach to coach if they think a new coach offers something different than the current one. He also mentioned that he’s bringing back Vale Tudo in a new promotion company with a very limited ruleset so the fights are as realistic as possible. I can’t find any links related to this but I’m going to keep an eye out for it, from what Pereira said the limited ruleset should lead to some exciting fights.
I’ve been watching these videos today and getting a lot out of them. Ryron and Rener Gracie go in depth into concepts about defense, escapes, control and submission. What I like about these videos is they talk about jiu jitsu concepts rather than just demoing moves. Moves are great, but I find that I learn best when I can see the bigger picture through a concept based approach. There’s a lot to unpack in these videos, and I’m just getting into them so I can’t speak much about them yet, but wanted to share them here in case others would find them valuable as well.
Another great video from John Lawrence, owner and head instructor at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu. In this video he covers some details of how to chain together a single leg take down to a leg drag pass. He points out some important aspects in regards to handling possible strikes during the pass.
Last night at class we spent most of the evening working on stand-up self defense tactics. In jiu jitsu we tend to spend most of our time fighting on the ground, either off our backs or with our weight distributed on our partner. Anytime I work on stand-up I’m reminded of how different the strength and cardio requirements are. It gets even harder when you’re standing up and pinned against the wall. And harder still when you get taken down, pinned against the wall, with your partners full weight on you and your trying to stand back up.
We started the class with out typical warm-up of hip escapes, and then quickly transitioned into pummeling drills. These drills switched to pummeling “sparring”. After warm-up we started our wall work. One person would stand with their back against the wall, the other would stand in front of them, with double underhooks and attempt to keep them pinned there. The person on the wall had the job of getting at least one underhook, and spinning their partner so that they were against the wall. Back and forth we went with that drill. Continue reading “Fighting Off The Wall”
Jorge Pereira is a coral belt under Rickson Gracie. He is originally from Rio de Janeiro and has competed in many jiu jitsu and Vale Tudo matches. His best quote was spoken after a particulary tough fight with Alessandro Stefano, “A warrior doesn’t bleed, his honor overflows”.
In this video Pereira shows an awesome guard pass straight into an armbar. This move is a great example efficiency and effectiveness: