John Danaher, Marcelo Garcia agree to end hostility between their students

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John Danaher and Marcelo Garcia. Facebook

John Danaher and Marcelo Garcia. Facebook

Standouts of professional BJJ competitions, the athletes under John Danaher and Marcelinho Garcia have been exchanging some harsh words online about each other, and last weekend they had a non-competitive confrontation during the North American ADCC trials in New York, leading Garry Tonon, of the Danaher Death Squad, to send out a challenge to Dillon Danis, a black-belt under Garcia who coaches Conor McGregor.

Garcia and Danaher, a black-belt under Renzo Gracie, are good friends, and so they met up to try to end this animosity between their teams. On his Facebook page, Danaher had the following to say afterwards (unedited):

Perspective: In recent days and weeks the jiu jitsu scene has seen a marked increase in provocative talk between camps and much of it has been centered around my own students and those of Marcelo Garcia. This is odd, as Mr Garcia and I are good friends. As is so often the case, what begins as banter and play can lead to consequences one does not want. Both Mr Garcia and myself are committed to the idea of a strong distinction between the spirit of MMA, where a certain amount of talk and showmanship is good for business, and jiu jitsu, where a more elevated sense of behavior is appropriate. I am all for jiu jitsu athletes being paid more for their hard work, but I am concerned that this may be achieved at the expense of the soul of the sport. Moreover, our schools are real neighbors, just blocks apart, and neither of us wants an “us vs them” attitude here in the NYC jiu jitsu scene. I met with Mr Garcia tonight at his school and we discussed the situation. He is so much more than just one of the sports greatest champions, he is an icon and a role model- in my experience the kindest and gentlest soul in the sport.

Accordingly, we have agreed that the mood of the last few days is one that is not good for the sport and even worse for the NYC jiu jitsu scene. As such, both teams will stop the negative social media talk and direct challenge matches (athletes will still participate in regular tournaments with each other, but for now, no internet challenge matches). I have met most of Mr Garcia’s team, and they are all great fellows. Our squad may be a little rough around the edges at times, but they all have hearts of gold – I don’t teach people whose character I don’t like – I just don’t interact with them. I believe this is a case of fundamentally good people letting words and escalation put them in a situation that does not benefit the sport as a whole. Mr Garcia is among the most sincere and well meaning men I ever met – I think his concern about the sport and about the relationship of NYC jiu jitsu teams is correct. We all love competition and friendly rivalry, but a sense of perspective is needed to keep it appropriate and the sport we all love healthy.

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