John Danaher has started sharing his secrets on takedowns for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the entire grappling world is more than grateful to him for that. His new “Feet To Floor” instructional series contains a Gi-based curriculum, but most of the things are also quite easily transferrable to No-Gi, as John himself often points out. What is important to point out is that he demonstrates takedowns for BJJ, and not just takedowns in general as done in other arts like wrestling, Judo, and Sambo. In fact, this third installment of the John Danaher Standing DVD series covers some rolling Sambo takedowns with leg lock attacks, along with some interesting takes on guard pulling as a means of taking a fight to the ground.
The Feet To Floor John Danaher Standing DVD instructional already has two volumes out. The first one is a real essential for anyone looking to learn how to take people down, especially in a BJJ context. The second one is all about Judo from BJJ, along with all the grip fighting tips and tricks that come with it. While both are great, you’ll absolutely need the first one in order to make sense of the references Danaher often makes during the third volume of his series which we are reviewing here today. I think this one might just be the best of the three DVDs on the subject of standing exchanges he has released so far.
The Fascinating Subject Of Pulling Guard In BJJ
Pulling guard is a highly divisive subject in BJJ. People that like to pull guard defend their choice and option to do so. On the other hand, all those that enjoy doing wrestling or Judo-style takedowns and throws, usually belittle gaurd pullers as being lazy and not knowing any takedowns.
Pulling guard is most definitely a valuable option in Jiu-Jitsu, otherwise, it would not be such a frequent thing. While the action of pulling guard does not bring immediate points as such, it does provide a plethora of attacking opportunities later on. The only drawback is that you end up on your back having to play guard which is not always the best course of action. However, there are huge merits to pulling guard as a means of getting a match to the ground, especially if you know you’re up against someone that is a seasoned Judoka or wrestler, and they can take you down at will. By pulling guard, you’ll at least control how a match goes to the ground and can get the upper hand.
Another aspect of gaurd pulls that supports the notion of training them is the reason to know how to counter them. If a person pulls guard, and they have a full strategy from the eon, you might find yourself in trouble if you’re not a guard passing aficionado. That is exactly what you can expect to learn from the third edition of the “Feet To Floor” John Danaher Standing DVD instructional. Apart from a couple of volumes (of the total of 8), all other parts focus on various ways of turning guard pulls into takedowns, or at least positions of advantage for yourself. The contents of those other volumes are all about rolling kneebar attacks, takedown counters, and mat returns.
Full Review Of “Feet To Floor 3” John Danaher Standing DVD
We’ve come to expect nothing less than 8 volumes per DVD set from John Danaher over the past several years. He does not disappoint, once again treating us with nearly 10 hours of ultra high-quality material. This time, it is an interesting blend of Sambo, BJJ and wrestling tactics that will offer you a slightly different perspective of the standing game for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The most important aspect of the takedown/throw aspect of grappling eh covers in this particular DVD has to do with pulling guard, as previously discussed.
The way this instructional is structured is by exploring the possible follow-ups that come off of guard pulls, and how you can make them all seem like one uninterrupted motion. In short, you’ll learn how to use guard pulls to get sweeps, get dominant positions, get submissions, or at the very least, earn an advantage. Of course, you will also learn how to counter guard pulls which is a skill you will need to use in matches a lot more than you might think, especially during the white, blue, and purple belt days.
Volume 1- Rolling Kneebars
The rolling kneebar is one of the most attractive moves you’ll see in grappling. While the kneebar is a submission that is pretty much universal among grappling martial arts, the rolling setup is a more specific one. I have no idea who did it first, but it was Sambo that popularized it. In Sambo, rolling from standing into a kneebar on the ground is known as teh Victor roll, and it is a very powerful and reliable move to pull off. All it takes is spending enough time to perfect it.
In the third volume o the John Danaher Standing DVD series, John goes over this move with a fine-tooth comb, making it tighter, even more reliable, applicable to BJ, and easier to learn and master in significantly less time than the original Sambo version.
The way John approaches takedowns is clear by now from his two previous ‘Feet to Floor” volumes. Basically, he goes over the fundamental mechanics first, covering subjects like grips, stance, positioning, and movement. He then covers the move in its entirety, outlining the key moments that make it all work.
Finally, he offers several different grip variations for getting the rolling kneebar, which includes belt grips, lapel grips, the arm trap grip, and a few others.
Volume 2 – Pulling Guard To Sweeps
After going over the basic points of pulling guard in the final chapter of the first volume of the DVD, Danaher switches directly to ways in which guard pulling can end up being the same as a takedown for you. The most obvious direction is via sweeping, which will earn you the same amount of points (2) as a takedown would.
The first thing John covers, though, is the guard to which you will be pulling to. While many people usually think of the closed guard as the endpoint of a gaurd pull, the truth is that you can end up in pretty much any gaurd you want. For example, John demonstrates pulls into Ashi Garami positions, the X guard, half guard, and butterfly guard, among others. He goes over the fine points of each guard position in which you want to end up after the pull first.
The reason for this is that you will require that precise guard position to be able to hit a sweep as soon as possible. Without the mechanical power of the guard, you won’t be able to move an opponent that has managed to establish a meaningful base. The Sumi Gaeshi and Tomoe Nage variations covered in the “Feet To Floor Volume 2” are the most common options here, along with hook sweeps and a very slick fake guard pull into ankle pick. The tripod sweep wraps the second volume of this instructional up.
Volume 3 – Pulling Guard To Advantage
Pulling into advantage requires you to have a specific mindset. While guard pulling as a takedown does mean you’ll need to think outside the box, settling for advantages will challenge your mind even more. It is well worth it, though, as is the case with most Danaher instructionals. The thing is that advantages do not mean you’re giving up the top position. Quite the contrary. The concept is that you’re pulling guard into a position that will allow you to stop for a short time, and then head off straight into something that will unmistakably land you in a top position.
Examples of some of the advantage positions you will find in this volume of the John Danaher Standing DVD are the shoulder crunch, kata gatame, pinch headlock, and slide-by. Conversely, after you pull guard into any of those positions, you can use them to get actual takedowns, the likes of Ude Gatame, Sumi Gaeshi, Hiza Guruma, or elevator sweep.
Volume 4 – Pulling Guard To Position & Pull Counters
Pulling guard into position means that you use the guard pull to obtain your go-to position. This is a highly individual and John offers a basic concept that covers his main ideas behind this philosophy, before heading into guard pull counters.
Now, this is a subject you shouldn’t just glance over. It all start s with the philosophy of winning the guard pull battle. That does not mean pulling guard yourself after dealing with an opponent’s attempted pull. Guard pull counters work best when you let the person go to the ground, but you prevent them from establishing a meaningful guard position. The idea is to go straight into passes off of an attempted pull, which is something John explains in great detail.
Some of the options you will see in this part of the ‘Feet To Floor” DVD are the hand post, jump pull counter, O Soto pass, long step and more.
Volume 5 – Pulling Guard To Submissions
Arguably, the most important skill in relation to pulling guard that you will need in BJJ. Of course, this is a John Danaher DVD, meaning that leg locks are not far behind. In fact, the first thing that he shows is an Achilles lock straight off of a guard pull. It is sneaky, powerful, and legal for every belt in both Gi and No-Gi. A couple of seated pull counters also make an appearance here, with the kneebar and flying triangle being the submissions on choice.
This fifth volume of the DVD is basically divided into two parts. The first is submissions off of guard pulls, while the second is all about negating the guard pull option for your opponent. Danaher also calls these the cheap shot takedowns off of the guard pull and the knee drop method. The armbar is the method of choice here that is the perfect follow-up when it comes to pulling into submissions. The Achilles lock and triangle choke make an appearance once again toward the end, after at least half a dozen different armbar setups with top and bottom finishes.
Volume 6 – Takedown Counters
The more advanced you become in BJJ and especially the standing aspects of it, the more important counter takedowns are going to become. It is not just about defending takedowns and ending up somewhere neutral, it is about turning your opponent’s attacks into attacking options for your own, while of course, scampering their attempts to throw you to the ground.
It all starts with a philosophy of takedown counters, which explains Danaher’s approach to the subject in a nutshell. I really like the fact that he covers the rules of Jiu-Jitsu in regard to takedown counters, thus ensuring you don’t do any stuff that, while very efficient, is illegal under the current general BJJ competition rules.
From there on, he goes into the first aspect of takedown counters – preventing upper-body throws. Hip checks are the method of choice, with several variations covered. In typical Dnahaer fashion, countering a takedown is far from enough, and the follow-ups are, of course, submissions. Strangle holds, armbars, a very cool Ezekiel choke and an even cooler arm trap guard pull off of a hip check all make an appearance in this volume of the instructional.
Volume 7 – Lower Body Takedown Defense
After the upper body takedown counters, there’s an entire volume dedicated to the remaining 50 % of the human body – lower body takedown counters. A couple of step-around counters open up the chapters, which basically means you will be able to deal with most foot sweep attacks.
Lower body counters start off with legal disclaimers as well, once again pertaining to Jiu-Jitsu competition rules. One of the most valuable things you’ll learn from this instructional is Dnahaer’s take on sprawls, covering every possible aspect of the move. Let’s just say you’ll be doing sprawls a bit differentially from now on.
Following suit are other awesome lower body takedown counters, including Judo throws against the single leg in the form Of Harai Goshi, Sumi Gaeshi, Yoko Sakaku, etc. Finally, he touches upon the subject of high-risk high reward takedowns like the drop Seio Nage, Tai Otoshi, and Ogoshi.
Volume 8 – Mat Returns
The final volume of the third edition of the “Feet to Floor” John Danaher Standing DVD instructional. Covers the highly interesting (and crucial) aspect of grappling- mat returns. In wrestling, that refers to keeping people on the ground after you complete a takedown and they attempt to get back on their feet. Basically, without the ability to recognize when a takedown turns into a mat you’ll struggle with actually finishing takedowns and keeping people on the ground after you manage to get them there.
The final chapter of the instructional is on the subject of recovering after you fail with a takedown attempt, which is arguable, a situation you’ll find yourself into more often than any other covered in this instructional. At least until you master all the information in the “Feet To Floor” series.
The third installment in the ‘Feet To Floor” John Danaher Standing DVD instructional is the most interesting so far. The first one covered the fundamentals, and the second went into Judo takedowns, mostly of the foot sweep variety. However, addressing gaurd pulling and takedown counters in such a detailed fashion is something not many people have done before Danaher. Add to that the rolling kneebar setups as the cherry on top and you have the perfect standing instructional for both people that love takedowns, and those that love guard pulls.