John Danaher’s Jiu-Jitsu Priority Principle Explained

John Danaher's Jiu-Jitsu Priority Principle Explained
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John Danaher, a renowned martial arts instructor, and coach, has brought forth valuable insights and teachings to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His profound understanding of the sport and his emphasis on the ‘Priority Principle’ reveals a deeper layer of strategy that is integral to success in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. Recently, he shared a powerful statement on his Facebook profile that encapsulates this principle.

Prioritizing in a Complex Scenario

The complexity of Jiu-Jitsu is something that both newcomers and seasoned practitioners must grapple with. The sport involves intricate and dynamic movements, requiring both mental acumen and physical dexterity. As Danaher explains, there’s a lot going on in any given second-by-second scenario. Faced with a barrage of information, it’s all too easy for a practitioner to become overwhelmed.

Danaher’s advice, distilled into the Priority Principle, is a strategic response to this chaos. He advises focusing on the single base requirement needed in a given scenario and temporarily ignoring the rest. By honing in on the core objective, a practitioner can bring clarity and purpose to even the most confusing and complex situations in Jiu-Jitsu.

Chest to Back Connection: An Example Priority

Using the example of attacking the back in a scramble, Danaher emphasizes that among all the concerns, maintaining a chest-to-back connection takes precedence over everything else. Without this fundamental connection, other aspects such as getting the hooks in to score or sinking the strangle hand to finish become irrelevant. The focus on this connection serves as a foundational guideline that enables the fulfillment of other objectives in the sequence.

chest to back control by john danaher

Applying the Priority Principle

The beauty of the Priority Principle lies in its universal application within the sport. Here’s how to apply it:

  1. Identify the Core Requirement: In any given situation, recognize the single base requirement necessary to achieve your objectives.
  2. Focus on the Priority: Concentrate solely on the identified priority until it’s under control.
  3. Expand Attention Gradually: Once the core requirement is met, you can begin to address other elements and build upon the established foundation.


John Danaher’s teachings emphasize not just the physical execution but also the intellectual and strategic aspects of Jiu-Jitsu. The Priority Principle is a manifestation of this thought process, offering a simple and effective way to navigate the multifaceted landscape of the sport.

Danaher’s wisdom serves as a guiding philosophy for practitioners of all levels, helping them to develop their skills, understanding, and effectiveness on the mat. By adhering to the Priority Principle, martial artists can cultivate a focused and purposeful approach to Jiu-Jitsu, enhancing their ability to adapt, react, and excel in this intricate and beautiful martial art.

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