The Danaher Death Squad (DDS) was an elite grappling team coached by John Danaher. The DDS, which included athletes like Gordon Ryan, Eddie Cummings, Craig Jones, and Garry Tonon, dominated the competition and transformed the sport.
Unfortunately, the team separated in July 2021, with Danaher, Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and others forming New Wave Jiu-Jitsu, Craig Jones, Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinsten starting the B-Team Jiu-Jitsu.
This article discusses the Danaher Death Squad’s members, grappling systems, and exploits. Indeed, it discusses the DDS split, among other things.
Danaher Death Squad Beginning
Danaher’s quest for knowledge and inventiveness distinguished him from others. He constructed his method using physics, anatomy, and biomechanical concepts to produce a more efficient and effective grappling approach.
Danaher’s technique was so effective that he was contacted by prominent athletes seeking his advice and instruction, such as Eddie Cummings, a jiu-jitsu black belt DDS star, and many others.
As a result, the Danaher’s Death Squad was formed. Some of the best BJJ practitioners were on the team, including Gordon Ryan, Craig Jones, Garry Tonon, and others. They dominated the competitive scene and established themselves as some of the best grapplers in the world.
Notable Danaher Death Squad Members
The Danaher Death Squad began with just three grapplers. However, more incredible grapplers have recently joined the club due to Danaher’s unique teaching, which has allowed them to do more in less time.
Here are some of the top DDS members:
Gordon Ryan is John Danaher’s most successful student and was the DDS’s most influential member. He is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Garry Tonon. For several years, Garry Tonon’s best friend has dominated no-gi grappling tournaments.
Ryan has won the ADCC World Championship, the WNO Heavyweight Championship, the IBJJF World No-Gi Championship, and the IBJJF Pans No-Gi Championship, among other titles.
Garry Tonon is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Tom DeBlass and a respectable no-gi BJJ competitor who has built his reputation through participation in prestigious events.
Tonon worked hard with John Danaher and was also a member of the DDS before moving to MMA.
Garry has some outstanding grappling achievements, including the IBJJF Pan Championship NoGi 1st place in 2015, EBI WW Invitational 1st place in 2014/2015, EBI LW Invitational 1st Place in 2015, EBI LHW Invitational 1st Place in 2016, IBJJF Pan Championship NoGi 2nd Place in 2015, and the ADCC World Championship3 rd Place in 2019, etc.
In 2018, Garry Tonon switched to mixed martial arts. He competes at ONE Championship and trains at Evolve MMA.
Jones does hold a black belt in BJJ under Lachlan Giles, which he earned in 2016 while still training at the Absolute MMA Academy in Melbourne.
Aside from that, he is a well-rounded fighter who is equally dangerous from any position and a strong finisher, having won most of his fights via submission.
Craig’s BJJ successes include, among others, Polaris 205-pound champion in 2018, Polaris 185-pound champion in 2018 and 2019, ADCC World Championship second place in 2019 and 2022, and EBI 11 Invitational third place in 2017.
Nick Rodriguez, a former Danaher Death Squad member and currently B-team competitor, is one of the most potential BJJ grappling phenoms. He is well-known as “Nicky Rod” and is a no-gi expert and former amateur wrestler.
Nicky was born on the eastern coast of the United States on August 30, 1996. He stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and lives in Austin, Texas.
Rodriguez is most known as “the Black Belt Slayer” because he caused several black belts to resign or leave the mats with their hands up throughout his career.
Nicky Rod is a super-talented man with an aggressive grappling style and wrestling strength. As a result, he gives his all in every grappling match, never giving up.
Among Nick Rodriguez’s top BJJ accomplishments are first Place in IBJJF World Championships NOGI (2018 blue), EBI 20 Absolute winner, 2nd place at the ADCC world Championship 2019/2022, first place in the ADCC US West Coast Trials in 2019, etc.
DDS’s Grappling Training Philosophy
John Danaher places a significant focus on teaching students the fundamentals of BJJ. Like other trainers, he thinks that rigid rules build the foundation for future learning and are essential to success.
Indeed, Danaher emphasizes BJJ drilling and thinks it is essential to progress and execute techniques even under severe conditions.
While teaching the DDS, Danaher concentrated on submissions with a high success rate to end a fight as fast as possible. Therefore, the squad distinguishes itself from other grappling techniques by emphasizing efficiency and efficacy above showy movements and spectacle.
Indeed, another crucial feature of DDS is its emphasis on drilling and repetition. The team exercises vigorously, practicing skills until they become second nature.
DDS’s Grappling Techniques Trademark
The Danaher Death Squad’s methods are based on science and anatomy. They aim to exploit human bodily vulnerabilities, such as pressure points and leverage, to overcome opponents.
The heel hook, a submission that strikes the knee joint, is one of DDS’s defining techniques. The team often used this high-percentage move to close games fast and effectively.
Indeed, the DDS emphasized back control techniques and transitions. Because the back is one of the most dominating positions in grappling, the team strongly emphasizes gaining and retaining control of it to finish a BJJ bout efficiently, using an RNC or other savage submission.
Danaher Death Squad Split
Trouble erupted among the Danaher Death Squad in 2021 as members raised worries about their particular grappling brands being eclipsed by some members’ expansive reach and supremacy. The once-united squad was experiencing obstacles they never expected to face.
A few months after the DDS’s new Puerto Rico project launched, They met a brick wall and decided to shut it down. The Project was canceled due to a sequence of terrible occurrences.
This highly anticipated Project ended because of the pandemic outburst and the death of Gordon Ryan’s father, Gordon Sr. In addition, people found it difficult to go to Puerto Rico because of the pandemic limitations, which also influenced the Project.
Gordon Ryan revealed on Instagram that he would be moving to Austin to build a new gym. Then, John Danaher reacted with his tweet, announcing the dissolution of Danaher’s Death Squad.
When the squad was in Puerto Rico, a few problems arose, and those arguments were made public. Several reasons contributed to the friction, including differences in training philosophies and the new school’s disappointing outcomes.
Following the group discussion, the team members decided it was best for everyone to part ways. Danaher Death Squad’s supremacy and high hopes in the jiu-jitsu world regrettably ended as the organization separated.
Related: Looking to enhance your jiu-jitsu journey? This list of the best jiu-jitsu podcasts! Gain valuable insights, techniques, and interviews with experts in the field. Click here to read more!
The Danaher Death Squad (DDS) was an outstanding grappling team that changed the grappling game. The DDS dominated the tournaments for several years by enforcing many high-success rate submissions like leglocks, back mount chokes, etc.
Sadly, the team split in July 2021, with Danaher, Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and others joining New Wave Jiu-Jitsu, Craig Jones, Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinsten creating B-Team Jiu-Jitsu.
Nonetheless, the DDS had taught the BJJ community numerous great things, such as the importance of tenacity and challenging effort.
Related: Are you ready to take your No-Gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training to the next level? Make sure you have the right gear to succeed. Learn about the best BJJ No-Gi gear for improving your skills and achieving your grappling goals. Click here to learn more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Did the Unexpected Split Occur?
The DDS split was caused by irreconcilable differences in coaching philosophies and management strategies among the coaching staff.
How Has the Danaher Death Squad Split Affected the BJJ Community?
The Danaher Death Squad breakup has caused uncertainty and speculation in the BJJ community. There are concerns about upcoming tournaments and the squad’s competitive future.