John Danaher Reveals the Danaher Death Squad Approach to No-Gi Half Guard

John Danaher, arguably the best jiu-jitsu coach in the world, continues to pump out high quality instructionals. His most recent product focuses on the no-gi half guard — how to sweep, how to submit, and how to transition to other attacking positions. In a recent video with Bernardo Faria as a part of his new instructional, Danaher details the approach to no-gi half guard that he teaches his students.

The first important key to a good no-gi half guard, says Danaher, is keeping the outside shoulder off the mat. That way, the bottom player is able to create space and opportunities to attack. Similarly, the bottom player must also have his outside hip off the ground. In short, the bottom player needs to stay on his side, and never flattened out.

“The general rule is that I, as the bottom athlete, always want my outside shoulder and my outside hip off the ground,” says Danaher.

Danaher also touches on the skillset of mixing jiu-jitsu and wrestling to sweep from the half guard position. He coaches his athletes to off balance the top player with a jiu-jitsu sweep, then finish the sweep using some sort of wrestling up, such as a single leg.

Additionally, Danaher demonstrates how to transition from the half guard to a butterfly guard and directly into a deep leg attack. This is trademark John Danaher — use every opportunity available to move immediately into an attack whenever possible.

Finally, Danaher points out that, unlike open guard, half guard forces the top person to engage, thus creating more opportunities to attack.

“There’s so much connection from half guard that it’s probably one of the very few if not the only guard position where you can say the bottom man can impose engagement from the bottom position.”

The leader of the famed Danaher Death Squad, Danaher is the head coach to top no-gi competitors like Gordon Ryan, Nicky Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Nick Rodriguez.

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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