What Does John Danaher REALLY Think About The SMOTHER TAP?

What Does John Danaher REALLY Think About The SMOTHER TAP?

In this video by FloGrappling, John Danaher discusses his thoughts on the smother tap and why his students have been so successful with it. While it may not be a universal move that can be applied to all divisions, Danaher explains that smothering and asphyxiation can be effective as a setup, particularly against opponents with a skill disparity. He emphasizes the importance of interrupting an opponent’s breathing, as it can lead to panic and mistakes, making them easier to attack. Danaher also highlights the value of his students’ pinning ability, which often leads to asphyxiation finishes. However, he acknowledges that in a training environment where everyone is equally skilled at escaping pins, it is rare to see a smother taken all the way through to a submission.

Overall, this video offers insights into Danaher’s perspective on the smother tap, its effectiveness as a setup, and the role of pinning skills in achieving successful finishes.

What Does John Danaher REALLY Think About The SMOTHER TAP?


In the world of jiu-jitsu, there is a technique known as the smother tap that has gained attention due to the success of John Danaher’s students. In a video by FloGrappling, John Danaher discusses the smother tap and shares his thoughts on its effectiveness as a submission hold. This article aims to delve deeper into John Danaher’s perspective on the smother tap and explore its background, setup potential, comparison to other submission holds, pinning ability, and critique as a submission hold.

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Background of John Danaher’s students using the smother tap

John Danaher’s students, such as Nicholas Meregali, Dan Montessori, and Gordon Ryan, have showcased their success in executing the smother tap. This technique, popularized by Gordon Ryan, has become a noteworthy aspect of John Danaher’s teaching and their collective style of jiu-jitsu.

John Danaher’s thoughts on smothering as a technique

Not a universal move

John Danaher acknowledges that smothering is not a move suitable for everyone. Like many techniques in jiu-jitsu, there are certain moves that can be universally applied, regardless of physicality or skill level. However, smothering is more tailored to individuals who possess greater size and strength advantages.

The appeal of smothering as a setup

According to John Danaher, the real appeal of smothering lies not in its ability to finish a fight, but rather as a setup for further attacks. In jiu-jitsu, basic moves are widely known and easily defended against at the highest levels of the sport. Therefore, causing distraction and interrupting an opponent’s breathing through smothering can create openings for successful submissions.

Interrupting opponent’s breathing

Breathing is a fundamental operation of the human body, and interrupting it can lead to panic and mistakes. Smothering an opponent can induce a sense of franticness, making them easier to attack. By targeting an opponent’s breathing, smothering becomes an effective means of distraction in jiu-jitsu.

Value of asphyxiation in skill disparity

When there is a significant skill disparity between opponents, smothering can be used all the way through to submission. John Danaher’s athletes are known for their pinning ability, and they demonstrate their strength by holding an asphyxiation longer than necessary. This showcases their control and can lead to submissions, especially when their opponents lack the same level of skill in escaping pins.

Smothering as a setup for submissions

As previously mentioned, smothering is primarily used as a setup for further attacks. By interrupting an opponent’s breathing, smothering creates panic reactions, making it easier to apply other submission holds. While not a finishing move in itself, smothering sets the stage for successful submissions.

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Pinning ability of John Danaher’s athletes

John Danaher’s athletes excel in their pinning ability, particularly in chest to chest positions. When they secure such pins, it becomes challenging for their opponents to escape. They often demonstrate the strength of their pinning by maintaining an asphyxiation for a longer duration, which can lead to submission finishes.

Demonstrating strength in chest to chest pins

John Danaher’s athletes showcase their pinning abilities by effectively executing chest to chest pins. These pins provide them with greater control over their opponents, making it difficult for them to escape.

Using asphyxiation in skill disparity

In instances where there is a skill discrepancy between opponents, John Danaher’s athletes leverage their pinning skills by utilizing asphyxiation finishes. The combination of superior pinning ability and opponents’ limited pin escape skills makes asphyxiation a viable submission hold.

Comparison of smothering to other submission holds

Not as widely applicable as other techniques

John Danaher acknowledges that smothering is not as widely applicable as other submission holds, such as arm bars, triangles, or heel hooks. Smothering is dependent on physical advantages and skill disparity, making it more challenging to execute against opponents who possess similar abilities.

Used as a method to create panic reactions

Unlike other submission holds that can be executed on opponents regardless of skill level, smothering is often used as a method to induce panic reactions. By interrupting an opponent’s breathing, smothering creates an environment where opponents are more susceptible to other submission attempts.

Rewarding pinning skills with asphyxiation finishes

John Danaher’s students’ extensive work on pinning skills is rewarded through asphyxiation finishes. Their ability to control and maintain pins translates into successful asphyxiation submissions, especially against opponents with weaker pin escape skills.

Lack of asphyxiation finishes during training

During training sessions among John Danaher’s students, where everyone possesses the same level of skill in escaping pins as applying them, asphyxiation finishes are rarely witnessed. This suggests that asphyxiation as a submission hold is less effective when both opponents possess equal skill levels.

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Critique of smothering as a submission hold

Limited effectiveness against skilled opponents

Smothering as a submission hold becomes less effective against opponents with high skill levels. Skilled opponents can escape pins just as effectively as they can apply them, diminishing the potential for smothering to be taken all the way through to a finish.

Dependent on pin escape skill

The success of smothering as a submission hold is heavily reliant on an opponent’s pin escape skills. If an opponent possesses strong pin escape abilities, they can thwart attempts at smothering before it escalates into a submission hold.


While smothering as a technique does not hold universal applicability, it serves as a valuable setup in jiu-jitsu. John Danaher’s students have capitalized on its potential, utilizing their pinning skills to secure asphyxiation finishes in instances of skill disparity. However, against skilled opponents with excellent pin escape abilities, the effectiveness of smothering diminishes. Nonetheless, smothering remains an intriguing aspect of jiu-jitsu, adding another layer of strategy and intrigue to the sport.

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