Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Dean Lister on Danaher

Dean Lister was on the BJJ Fanatics Podcast a couple of months ago. Here’s a clip where he talks about John Danaher and the leg lock game:

(lightly edited for clarity)

Ryan Ford:

Dean, you’re the man that John Danaher always acknowledged for sparking his interest in developing his leg lock system, when you famously told him, “why would you ignore 50% of the human body?”

And obviously since then John has taken his leg lock system to incredible heights through the success of his students, and also being able to systemize it in a way that can be laid out and taught to everyone around the world through his instructionals.

That must be pretty cool knowing that you’re, you’re one of the guys that was the spark of getting that whole thing going. Uh, but obviously man, you’re, you’re an OG leg locker. You’re someone that’s been doing it for a long time at the highest levels of the sport. I’m interested in knowing, man, is there anything that you feel you’ve learned from John or his students, about the leg lock game that maybe you weren’t using in your game previously?

Dean Lister:

Well, many things. I’ll tell you what Danaher is really a smart guy, and you know, he didn’t have to give me credit. So that’s a very honorable thing for him to do. Um, I do recall that conversation. We had, it was upstairs at the Renzo Gracie Academy in the year 2000. I was a purple belt, was staying with Matt Serra, who was a black belt.

I remember that conversation. I was doing pretty well with leg locks at the time. And it was a different impression I had, I recalled it. So many things they do that’s awesome, there’s some things that I’ve done for a long time that they do. And I don’t know if they figured it out on them on their own. I don’t know.

But one of them that was interesting. I’ve done for a long time, but I never put it into words, was the idea that leg locks allow you to go backwards, in technique. You know, he says, and it makes sense, how classic jiu-jitsu, you take the person down, you get around the dangerous legs, you proceed to your pinning position. And then the fourth is you go for a submission. That’s the order, A, B, C, D.

With leg locks, and I’ve done this all the time throughout my history. I never thought of it as a sequence. I can pass your guard and get mounted, and then allow you to put you back in half guard and then finish you. So you can go ABCD back to CBA.

I’ve done that a lot for a long time. Never put it into an idea though. I’ve always done that. I actually beat some high level guys with this idea. So as far as a principle or a strategy, it’s something that I’ve done, but I never thought of it as a conscious thing, but I’ve been doing that for a long time.

So it was interesting to hear how he talks about things. Also, I never put this some words, but leg locks, the 50/50 and the 4/11, which no one taught me. I’m not the first person in history to do them though, but I made, I helped to make the popular because when you win Abu Dhabi with something that’s, I dunno. It’s kinda like reputable, I guess.

Um, I always would control the hips. I would control the hips. It wasn’t considered like for me, oh, I would go for leg lock and they’re going to mount me. It could happen, but I could control the hips. Like I would control the shoulders for an armlock. And the legs and the arms are very similar.

The shoulders are like the hips and the way you’ve compare arms and legs. So the same way you would control the shoulders for the arm lock, I would control the hips and that would be in a 50/50 or the 4/11. And just so happens that John Danaher talks about the control mechanism over the breaking mechanism.

And I’ve done that for a long time, although I’d never put it in those words. So the idea of going ABCD back the DCBA reverse order and also the mechanism of control. I like how he puts those in words. It makes sense.

Ryan Ford:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that was, that was very well said. You mentioned that one of the things that you feel really strongly about is the importance of control, uh, in the, in these positions and the idea of also working backwards, what do you think are some of the most, uh, some additional really important concepts to have, to understand, uh, to have devastating leg locks?

Dean Lister:

Well, um, there’s so many the way that. Okay. If I was to compare, if I have a good triangle, well, then I kind of need a good arm lock to, to, um, to balance things. Because if you get away from my triangle, I can arm lock you. If you get too close from armlock, I can triangle you. The combination. So a lot of times you want to have a combination, let’s say from the bottom, a sweep combined with leg locks. If you’re on top, you want to combine your guard passing with leg locks.

You know, if you’re kickboxing, I want to have punches that hide my kicks and my kicks should hide my punches also. If you’re a kickboxer and you don’t have the hands, they’ll see your kicks, you can use them, but they’re not as effective.

And in wrestling, you want to have your throws combined with your leg attacks. Your single and double leg shot should combine with a throw. You know, and so having this duality or this combination, it’s really important to be well-rounded or at least have it not be so predictable. So if you want to become a leg lock specialist, you actually need to have some guard passing, you know?

Um, it’s important actually, so you’re not predictable. That’s the main thing. Um, and I have a couple of things that I’m showing right now, um, at my seminar, It’s kind of not the most fancy stuff, but it’s the most useful stuff. It’s the bridging or the missing link between guard passing and leg locks.

It’s the missing link that a lot of people don’t do. And it’s just something that people get too fancy instead of looking at what fundamentally works better. And I’m teaching that right now. I’m looking at that right now and it’s just looking at the hardcore, what works and the, the combination of passing and leg locks.

The episode is here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-bjj-fanatics-podcast/id1044753097?i=1000534124174

The clip is from around the 47:00 mark, but the entire episode is worth listening to.

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