All good things must come to an end of course, but I don’t think anybody expected to see John Danaher announce that the Danaher Death Squad was breaking up quite so soon. Over the last few years, Danaher has been leading the tight-knit team of elite no gi grapplers based in New York to victory after victory, all while revolutionizing the leglock game along the way. The team has consisted of around half a dozen truly elite athletes at the very top of the game, while also having a supporting cast of another dozen competitors who are able to put out consistent performances against high-level competition.
While the foundations were laid many years prior, Danaher was first introduced to the world at large as the BJJ coach for Georges St-Pierre and was seen in his corner for some of the biggest fights of the UFC legend’s career. Then in 2014 something amazing happened as several members of the Danaher Death Squad burst onto the competitive grappling scene and showed a preview of the success that would become almost routine in the years to come. Between Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Eddi Cummings, the squad won an astounding eleven EBI events while simultaneously putting on great performances on the IBJJF no gi circuit and at both the ADCC trials and world chamionships.
Since that initial rise to the top, the squad has grown exponentially and Danaher has produced even more homegrown talents like Ethan Crelinsten, Oliver Taza, Robert Degle, and Gordon Ryan’s younger brother Nicky. Not just this, but several elite athletes have made the trip to New York to advance their career as part of the Danaher Death Squad. Nicky Rodriguez and his younger brother Jacob both moved over from wrestling backgrounds and immediately started having success in BJJ, while Craig Jones made the move all the way from Australia to try and take his game to the next level.
Jones actually explained that one of the biggest factors in the success of the Danaher Death Squad has been the type of training that they use on a regular basis, constantly familiarizing themselves with bad positions in order to excel at them. After a while, the squad decided that a change of scenery was in order and every one of them uprooted their lives and moved away from the blue basement of Renzo Gracie New York. John Danaher and his team traveled all the way down to Puerto Rico to open up a new gym there instead.
Now, it seems like that’s where their story ends. According to a recent post to the official Instagram account of John Danaher, the squad will no longer be training and competing as a unit anymore. The individual members will still be at the forefront of the Jiu-Jitsu world however as both Nicky Rodriguez and Craig Jones are eager to become ADCC world champions, Oliver Taza has been having great success since the introduction of heelhooks to IBJJF no gi competition, and Garry Tonon is still in the early stages of his undefeated MMA career.
All of this is without acknowledging that Gordon Ryan will likely be returning to competition and cementing his place as the greatest no gi grappler on the planet after he fixes his stomach issues, and no doubt John Danaher will continue coaching the next generation of elite grapplers wherever he goes. One thing’s for sure, JitsMagazine wishes the greatest of success for all the members of the Danaher Death Squad as they go their separate ways and start the next chapter of their lives.
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