John Danaher On The Heart & Work Ethic of Travis Stevens

John Danaher On The Heart & Work Ethic of Travis Stevens


The USA’s Travis Stevens, probably the hardest working judoka around, has won his biggest international tournament to date by claiming the -81kg gold medal at the 2016 World Masters.

He showed great Newaza and when asked why he focuses on it, he answered:

Because nobody else is doing it.

Currently ranked No. 14 in the world, Stevens defeated Belgium’s Joachim Bottieau to become the first U.S. men’s judoka to win gold at the World Masters competition.

Travis Stevens aka ‘The Judo Silencer’ is a judoka from the United States who competed in 2008 Olympics. He participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics, losing against the previous winner of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Ole Bischof, in the semi-finals by judges’ decision and was then beaten in the bronze medal match by Canada’s Antoine Valois-Fortier. Travis has defeated Judo legend and Ne Waza king Flavio Canto. Travis also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under John Danaher. Danaher rewarded Stevens his black belt on November 19, 2013.

Travis Stevens went through all the BJJ Belts under John Danaher in an incredible 18 Months! . He held the rank of Brown for a year and competed at Copa Podio, and BJJ expo tournament. White-blue in weeks, then blue-purple in a month then purple-brown in a few months!


worlds flo

John Danaher, Travis’s Jiu-Jitsu instructor and known as one of the best BJJ instructors in the world shares his thoughts on his student.

The New Zealand born black belt has been praised by the BJJ community as being a master and brain of the art. Danaher is a highly intelligent individual, who has a Master degree in philosophy from Columbia University, and is totally focused on the evolution and improvement of Jiu-Jitsu. He is also the submission coach of none other than former UFC Welterweight Champion George Saint Pierre, Travis Stevens, Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings and Gordon Ryan.
Danaher trains and teaches Jiu jitsu at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York.

Danaher shared his thoughts on Facebook:

“Travis Stevens and the soul of the martial arts: It is with considerable pride and happiness that I learned this memorial weekend of the outstanding success of my friend and student, Travis Stevens. Travis won the world Judo masters tournament – an elite invitational tournament where the world’s best are pitted against each other in one of the toughest events of the year to win (in jiu jitsu, masters events are the old age events – not in this case).

Travis embodies much of what I take to be the deep soul of the martial arts. He is truly one of the hardest working athletes I have ever met. When I asked him to be part of one of Georges St- Pierre’s training camps he immediately agreed and became one of the best and most valued members. He would drive up from Boston four hours and cross the border to be first man on the mat and last to leave. Then he would immediately drive back to Boston to do the evening Judo workout under the great Jimmy Pedro.

Even Georges, a man of tremendous drive, would often comment approvingly on his discipline and work ethic. Like a true friend, Travis always tries to give as much or more than he takes in a relationship – he came to learn the ground game, but always we benefit from his insight and prowess in the standing game.

Whenever Travis comes to town to train with the squad the room crackles with extra energy and verve. He does all this with little to no expectation of financial reward as Judo is not a lucrative sport here in America. I always find it disturbing that a man as tough, skilled and hard working as Travis should make but a fraction of the money as the pampered stars of the far less demanding sports that dominate our public consciousness.

Like a true martial artist, Travis works through a stunningly grueling training and competition schedule that would crush the stars of these other sports – with only the love of his art to drive him. Through it all, he keeps an all American optimism and contagious vitality that is a joy to be around and to be inspired by.


The first day I met Travis Stevens he applied himself very well and spoke to me after class. He said, “John, don’t teach me jiu jitsu for judo – just teach me jiu jitsu.”

He launched himself into the study of the new sport and soon excelled in it. Now he mixes the two brilliantly. In his victory at the world masters this weekend he used a dynamic mix of tachi waza (standing technique) and ne waza (ground technique) to break through to the winners place on the podium.

Above is my favorite image of Travis in action – it tells so much about this man of the mats – All American, all Budo – built to last. Next time you feel tired or apathetic about training picture this image and ask yourself if you really have an excuse to keep you off the mats…”

About 2 Years ago John Danaher did an Interview with Fighter Plus about what he is striving for in Grappling and his thoughts on Travis Stevens: