Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Danaher on the Darce

Here’s John Danaher on how he came up with the Darce strangle:

(lightly edited for clarity)

Let’s change our focus now from Anaconda strangles to another form of Kata Gatame. This is one which is particularly dear to my heart because, um, I was probably one of the, as far as I know the first person to, to use this, uh, I came up with this move in the mid 1990s. And I just gotten my blue belt training, with Shawn Williams.

I call it the Inverted Kata Gatame because essentially a Kata Gatame action, the use of my shoulder, sorry, my opponent’s shoulder to strangle one of his carotid arteries and my bicep to strangle the other. I was struck by the fact that most strangles in jiu-jitsu always have an inverted version of it.

There’s always the same strangle principle used in different positions. Some of them which are inverted, but there was no inverted Kata Gatame. Okay. And we all know, the basic Kata Gatame we grow up with is the strangle here, where my bicep forms the strangulation on the far carotid artery in his shoulder forms a strangulation on the other.

Someday in the future, we’ll go over this version of Kata Gatame. It’s not relevant to the front headlock position, but it’s a very, very useful strangle. We’ll look at it in a separate, uh, video in the future. But I was always struck by the fact that in the 1990s, there was no inverted version of this.

One day I was training with Sean Williams. He was working from open guard, and he was very proficient when I was coming around the corner to pass, at using his top hand to post. And then he would heist up to his knees and, uh, uh, and avoid the finishing sequence for guard pass. So I’m struck by the fact that from a situation like this I guess we can go through and catch our training partner, just like, so then from here, we’ll come over the top and hit a basic move from wrestling, the Three Quarter Nelson and turn our opponent’s far shoulder down to the mat.

And from this position, my hands came in and I locked up a figure of four and started getting submission holds. Um, that was the basic germ, which gave rise to this idea of which I developed in time to develop what I call the Inverted Kata Gatame. That was the name I gave it.

I had a very talented student a few years later called Joe D’Arce.1 Um, I showed him the strangle. He was impressed by when I was doing some guard passing drills with him. And, he became extremely proficient at its use. I’ll come back to Joe’s input into the inverted Kata Gatame, later on in this video because it’s definitely worth looking at.

Joe was a competitor. I never competed, but Joseph, he did. He went to California and had tremendous success. No one had ever seen the strangle before he came out of a gym in New York City. And the Californians simply never seen it before. He tore up the local competition circuit with it. And the locals started, they didn’t know how to pronounce his name.

His name was Joe D’Arce and they called him Joe Darce and they started warn each other. Watch out for the “Darce,” the stranglehold that he was employing and the name stuck and that’s how it got its name. All these years, I call it the Inverted Kata Gatame, but it’s more well-known from my student, Joe D’Arce, the Darce strangle.

  1. Pronounced “D-R-C”. ↩︎

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