The life of an MMA fighter is much different than that of a Jiu-Jitsu competitor. Besides the lack of structure, it is the need for individual training and needs that set apart a multi-disciplined fighter from a specific aspect like Jiu-Jitsu. You will often find that MMA fighters train at many different places and with a small group at each place. “Mixed martial arts” means understanding and applying a variety of fighting techniques.
When Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar have a need for Jiu-Jitsu, they train with John Danaher of Renzo Gracie Academy NYC. The mad scientist of a teacher is known for his quirky habits and teaching methods that have given rise to his higher stature. Danaher is one of the greatest Jiu-Jitsu professors regardless of never stepping onto the competition mats.
But Danaher doesn’t just work one-on-one with these UFC natives. The 1 p.m. No-Gi class on Mondays is welcome to many belts, ages and intentions. From black belt IBJJF competitors to MMA amateurs, Danaher takes care of all of them. Edgar and St-Pierre mix into the class and drill, spar and learn with everyone else.
Danaher sits at his perch against the blue mat wall stamped with the Team Renzo Gracie logo and watches like a hawk. His voice is never raised and he never shows any great amount of enthusiasm as if to avoid watering down his words. The words he chooses are direct.
“Good, Frankie,” says the professor. “Move your leg, Georges.”
With the supervision and guidance, they can gain their one-on-one experience while still maintaining a ground zero, no-ego approach to training. It is this type of mentality that will allow any type of champion to continue their search for knowledge.
The pictures below are from the Jan. 7 training session. Edgar and St-Pierre both worked technique with their respective partners then rolled their five-minute rounds with various students in the class as appointed by Danaher.
Although champions, the down-to-earth and clean-cut mentoring under Danaher keeps the environment focused and centered upon knowledge. Danaher knows his Jiu-Jitsu and even the biggest stars of MMA know this to be true.
Edgar will be facing Jose Aldo at UFC 156 in Las Vegas on Feb. 2. Dropping to featherweight for this headlining fight, it will be a match-up with non-stop action from these two active and passionate fighters.
St-Pierre is preparing for his most anticipated fight against Nick Diaz at UFC 158. The fight will take place on his Canadian home turf in Montreal on March 16. Long overdue, Diaz has been asking for his chance to compete against St-Pierre for three years. St-Pierre is healthy and Diaz is completing his suspension, hungry for victory.
For more UFC and MMA coverage,
visit GRACIEMAG.com’s Choke MMA section