Craig Jones Reveals Danaher Death Squad Training Process

Craig Jones isn’t keeping the secrets to success a secret. In a recent podcast interview, the Danaher Death Squad member gave a detailed explanation of the training process behind the famed competition team.

Jones was a guest on the Be Effective Podcast. Over the course of the hour-long conversation, he described his beginnings in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, his relationship with fellow Australian grappler Lachlan Giles, what it’s like training with Gordon Ryan, and much more.

Most notably, Jones detailed the process behind the Danaher Death Squad’s immense success. Of course, it all starts in the training room with John Danaher’s uniquely structured practices.

“These guys would train bad positions every day,” Jones said of a typical DDS training session. “Like we’d start in mount, turtle, closed guard… It made me realize that although I don’t get put in these positions much, I really have a lack of knowledge in those positions.”

By specifically practicing bad positions every session, Jones noticed that his jiu-jitsu became more efficient. He simply couldn’t afford to explode out of positions. Initially, Jones struggled.

“That’s really where I got beaten up. Not only was I using a lot of energy to escape or survive those positions, I really wasn’t escaping or surviving those positions and that really showed me a huge hole in my game.”

Another added benefit of gaining comfortability in bad positions is that it breeds confidence. If a grappler is confident he can efficiently escape a poor position, he’s more likely to take risks. That risk-taking, submission-hunting style has become a hallmark of the DDS crew.

“That’s why I think the DDS guys are so comfortable in such a submission orientated, aggressive game,” Jones said.

Moreover, unlike coaches that actively compete and train alongside their students, Danaher is an observer. Jones believes that, although he rarely rolls, Danaher is actually a better coach because of it.

“You’ve got a guy in the room — and this is obviously a luxury — he sits there and watches every round. So when he sees someone in a sticky situation, he immediately addresses it after class, or he structures the next day’s class around it.”

Danaher also structures his team sparring in a way that might scare some grapplers: there is no rest between rounds, and nobody (but Danaher) knows how long each round is. This way, says Jones, grapplers are forced to be efficient at all times.

“There’s no rest in between each round,” he said. “So we’ll do six or seven rounds but there won’t be any time in between. So that adds another layer to things, because it means you have to be efficient…

“We don’t know how long each round is gonna go. He just says ‘time.’… When you don’t know how much time is left, you’re basically doing jiu-jitsu the whole round.”

Danaher even has an intentional process behind the release of his instructionals. In order to stay on the cutting-edge of technique, Danaher and the team will only release an instructional after those techniques have been proven effective in competition.

“John sort of has these techniques we’re working on that we try to use in competition. When those are implemented effectively in competition, we sort of bring out the instructional product then, so everyone else sees what we’re doing, but then we’re already moving on to the next wave…

It forces not only the whole world’s jiu-jitsu forward, it forces us forward, because we can only do something for so long before people pick up on it.”

Jones is currently training in Puerto Rico alongside Gordon and Nicky Ryan and the rest of the DDS squad. He is preparing for a February 26 showdown with Team Atos representative Ronaldo Junior.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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