John Danaher: “These Are The 5 Essential Things You Need To Excel In Jiu-Jitsu”

John Danaher: “These Are The 5 Essential Things You Need To Excel In Jiu-Jitsu”

John Danaher is widely regarded as perhaps the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach of his generation. A black belt under Renzo Gracie, he is best known for the successes of Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon; as well as for working with Georges St-Pierre.
In a conversation with BJJ Eastern Europe, Danaher shared many interesting topics; among them being the 5 things every BJJ athlete needs to “gain” if they want to truly improve in Jiu-Jitsu.



Understand that there are five essential things you need to excel in Jiu Jitsu and, indeed, in anything in life.

The first is PASSION. If you lack that – nothing else can help, for only a deep passion for some activity will keep you on course through all of the many trials, frustrations and disappointments you will inevitably suffer through as you work towards what you want. No one else can give this to you – it must come from within.

Search within yourself and ask: what are the things which you would happily do for the rest of your life for free? And then forge your career around those things. Life is short – do what you love.


The second is a DEFINITE GOAL. A person without goals drifts through life, reacting to things that occur around them. There is nothing wrong with that and, arguably, this a better way to achieve basic happiness or pleasure. However, if you want to go further than simple happiness or pleasure, and make notable achievements, you must have a goal so that your life has focus.
In a world of a million possibilities those who become remembered are those who can focus for a lifetime upon only one or two.


The third is an INTELLIGENTLY CRAFTED PLAN to get you to those goals. Understand that effort and sweat are no guarantee of success. Only intelligently directed effort gets you past the myriad of obstacles that block your path to your goals. And the single best basis for formulating such a plan is the trial and error method that forms the basis of the scientific method.
Test your theories and compare them with the evidence before you.


The fourth is the DISCIPLINE to stick to that plan for whatever length of time that is necessary to get you to those goals. All great achievers have a common feature – a life dominated by routine that enabled them to build the expertise necessary to stand out from the crowd and do something remarkable.


The fifth is the ADAPTABILITY to change or modify those goals and plans in the face of changing life circumstances and evidence. Life is a chaotic and fluid thing; and what seemed perfectly reasonable and sensible a year ago may not be so now. So, constantly review your plans in the face of new emerging evidence and be prepared to make the necessary changes.

If you can stay true to these five elements you can do something remarkable in Jiu Jitsu or any other aspect of life you choose to devote yourself to.

Check out the rest of the interview with John Danaher here.