Three Techniques for Beginners with John Danaher

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BJJ Fanatics


When you arrive at the jiu-jitsu academy for the very first time, the senses become overloaded. We’re excited to learn and there’s so much to experience, we hardly know where to focus the bulk of our attention. As beginners its important to trust your Professors and peers with your journey but it can be difficult to stay the course with so many resources available. 

Of course, learning to move our bodies is paramount. The standard movements such as the hip escape and the bridge, among many others are a great place to focus your efforts and begin to study. Understanding what makes jiu-jitsu work before you try and apply it to resisting body or stopping someone from doing the same to you, is of great importance. 

After you begin to understand the basic movements of jiu-jitsu, the techniques begin to make more sense. Their application begins to feel familiar and things come alive. Now we begin to gravitate toward certain themes and we start seeking out our favorite methods of implementing our BJJ. There are a ton of ideas out there. Its incredibly easy to get sidetracked. With the amount of information available the process of learning can be incredibly overwhelming. 

Seek out some great entry level information that caters to beginners. Look for instruction from the best teachers in the world and see how they explain the fundamentals. We happen o have access to one of these incredible instructors and he has three techniques for you, that he feels every beginner should know. John Danaher has been releasing an enormous amount of content and sharing with us some of his vast knowledge but this particular bit of instruction is tailored for the beginner. Take a moment to watch this video and see what you think!

Danaher begins with the elbow escape. Before he gets in to the technique he gives us a brief summary on what it means to be pinned by running through some of the most popular dominant positions in the sport of BJJ. When are legs have been passed and our partner has traveled to a dominant position, this is a good time to start thinking about the elbow escape. As Danaher explains, getting our legs back in to the game, gives us the ability to now win from the bottom or to turn the tide of an exchange.

Danaher starts his instruction in the bottom mount position. Firstly, he talks about the elements of framing. Frames are used to create and maintain space between ourselves and an opponent and they come in many forms. His first frame mirrors his partner’s belt and the second runs vertically to his partner’s thigh with the elbow resting on the inside of the knee. Danaher then begins to invert his knee, so that its at a higher level than his foot. Here he can penetrate the space under his partner leg and can begin to scoot his knee under his partner shin. He then scoops his partners foot with his opposite heel and brings it to the inside of his legs, locking a triangle style configuration to hold the foot in place. 

With the ankle trapped, Danaher now turns his attention to the knee. He feeds the knee to the inside of his legs by elevating his hip to cause the knee to come off of the ground, and then begins to turn back in the other direction to perform the same job on the opposite side by using his elbow to release his knee and then shifting his hips again to ultimately remove it and replace his guard. 

Recruiting many of the very same elements, Danaher now performs an escape from side control. With the acquisition of frames again being the initial focus, Danaher creates space to connect his knee and elbow and then begins to align his body with his partner. As this alignment occurs, Danaher begins to again shift his hips, freeing his opposite knee and again reclaiming the space between him and his partner. 

In a third example, Danaher is now in the back control. He starts by making sure that he wins the battle to end up on the under-hook side. He first plants his foot at an angle that makes it difficult for his partner to take him to the over hook side. Next, he straightens his free leg and drives to the side he wishes to fall to. He must first beat the bottom leg and to do this he sweeps his leg back under and through the middle, freeing it from the hook. He then brings his head below the level of his partners and draws his knee up to his chest. As Danaher begins to move away from his partner, he will most certainly attempt to follow him in to the mount and here, another elbow escape is performed to close the technique and once again retain the guard. 

As you can see, the elbow escape is one of the most important techniques in BJJ, especially when it comes to getting yourself out of trouble. Make this a focal point of your early training and work to maintain your ability to perform the elbow escape mechanics throughout your journey!

Danaher now keeps things rolling with showing us a pathway to the back from the closed guard. Here, he begins by securing a cross grip on the sleeve, which he doubles up using his opposite hand. He then brings his partner forward using his hips and simultaneously sheds the grip on his gi, then directing his partner arm to the opposite side of his body. Taking a hold of his partners far armpit, Danaher begins to create space between himself and his partner and begins to rise up to a level where his head is higher than his partners head, resting on his elbow. Next, Danaher un hooks his feet and begins to transfer the weight of his body to his to leg, helping to ease the transition on to this partner’s back. 

Inserting his second hook in to the mix, Danaher has now created a situation where he has gone from the bottom to the top and has put himself in great position to attack. Feeding the lapel from the top, he then begins to attack the neck by configuring his hands in a classic lapel choke configuration. As he continues on through the back take, Danaher lands in a seated position where he can now begin to remove the slack from the lapel. He places a leg over his partner’s shoulder and then begins to use the strength of his legs to push his partner away as he pulls back in the opposite direction with his upper body to complete the submission. 

Traveling from an unfavorable pinned position, Danaher has made his way all the way in to a dominant position through the completion of a submission. Using three basic techniques, Danaher has taken us on a journey from a losing position to an incredibly effective strangulation, the essence of jiu-jitsu. 

We’re then treated to a great explanation of how to use the gi against our opponents to complete a solid strangulation. This is a great way to end the instruction and give us more insight in to the inner workings of a choke. 

This sequence is a fantastic entry level series of techniques that every beginner should be familiar with. The fact that they’re done as a system makes this a great way to train and commit the techniques to memory. Working in this fashion is a ton of fun and very effective. Add this to your drilling for the week and reap the benefits of these three very important moves! Good luck!

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