Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Review: Feet To Floor Volume 1 (Fundamental Standing Skills) by John Danaher

Awhile ago I wrote about my frustrations regarding fact that the last installment of John Danaher's Go Further Faster Series had no takedowns.  I was really looking forward to seeing Danaher's take on takedowns, and was consequently disappointed when it didn't come to fruition in the final installment of the series.

I was pleasantly surprised when they announced he was coming out with a whole new series on takedowns. I of course bought Danaher's Feet To Floor: Volume 1 the day it was released.  But as you may have heard, Danaher's material is rather dense.  It takes me a while to watch and digest all of it.  

Let's talk packaging

I bought the digital version.  I used to shun the digital online versions of these things.  I liked having the physical DVD.  I'd make an MP4 version so that I could have a backup and play it on my laptop when I was traveling.  But I finally jumped on the bandwagon with the whole digital thing.  

I think the chapter breaks are what did it for me. The chapter breaks allow you to quickly find the section you're looking for.  Although in a Danaher DVD, one chapter can be 30 minutes long. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

I also like the fact that I can download a copy, save it to a thumb drive, plug it into my big screen TV and watch it in style.  Unfortunately there are not chapter breaks on the thumb drive version.  If BJJ Fanatics could figure that one out, I'd be in Jiu Jitsu Instructional Heaven.

Like most BJJ Fanatics products, this one is professional quality.  Great resolution.  Great camera work. Great audio.  No issues there.

How about the content

The first time through, I will say I felt a little disappointed.  It felt like just another collection of unrelated takedown techniques to me.  They weren't bad techniques mind you.  Just seemingly unrelated.  I was hoping to get a unified takedown system.  

The second time through, his gripping strategy made more sense to me.  What grips to go for and why they are advantageous. I know, I know.  It's not like he doesn't spell it out for you in the instructional... over and over and over and over again. It's just that I didn't fully appreciate it the first time through I guess. The second time through it clicked into place for me.

I decided to play some grip-fighting games in the gym after that.  It turns out the grips Danaher recommends are relatively easy to get once you take the time to understand and memorize his grip-fighting strategies.

One of the things I really like about this set is that the first two takedown techniques aren't just limited to the stand-up game.  You can hit the collar drag and ankle pick from the seated guard.  So if you like these two, you can practice your takedowns even if nobody starts standing in your gym.

After connecting all of that, the section on off-balancing started to make more sense.  He takes some techniques that could be used as throws or takedowns in and of themselves, but demonstrates how to use them to set up the collar drag and ankle pick.  So you're not expecting to get the first technique, but rather the second or the third. Kind of like a... wait for it... a system!

Here's a breakdown of what's covered:

  • In Part 1 he gives an overview of the series.  He talks about his criteria for takedown selection for Jiu Jitsu.  Then he gets into the first two essential skills of the standing position, Stance and Grip Fighting. (2 hours, 30 minutes)
  • Part 2 - Just when you thought you knew everything about standing grips, Danaher spends another two hours on the subject. (that's 2 hours)
  • Part 3 - Skills 3-5 of his 6 Essential Skills (Motion, Kuzushi, and Position).  Then he gives an overview of his 5 Minimum Requirements.  (1 hour, 21 min)
  • Part 4 - Now we finally get to the first takedown! This one is all about the Collar Drag Takedown.  How to do it and how to set it up. (2 hours and 21 minutes)
  • Part 5 - This one spends a fair amount of time on the Ankle Pick (over 2 hours), but eventually moves into other takedowns as well. Namely the Knee Pick, the Double Leg, and Single Leg Takedowns. (3 hours, 18 minutes in all)
  • Part 6 - Danaher spends an hour on a wide variety of snap downs.  My favorite is the Seoi Snap.  It's low risk, works really well for me, and sets up the collar drag beautifully for me when the guy manages to remain on his feet.  After snap downs he moves into takedowns from the rear body lock. He spends an inordinate amount of time warning you not to sit on your opponent's knee, but I have to say I agree with him.  I've seen folks doing this in Judo class.  And it seems like no matter how many times the instructor tells people not to do it, there's always that one guy who just doesn't get it.  And then the ambulance gets called... but I digress. (2 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Part 7 - Here he talks about Takedowns for Self Defense, including his 9 Golden Rules for Self Defense Takedowns.  Essentially these are his Takedown selection criteria for Self Defense.  (1 hour, 14 minutes)
  • Part 8 - Finally you get to learn Takedowns for Self Defense.  Danaher's favorite of which is the High Single Leg.  (2 hours, 13 minutes in all)

Usability

This isn't something you can just pick up, watch, and hit in class the next day.  Like most of Danaher's material, this stuff is very dense and there's a whole lot of it.

The downside is that's over 17 hours and 30 minutes of excruciatingly detailed instruction.    I'm going to be working on this for awhile.  He says in the videos that his goal is to get you to the point where you can take down opponents of your own size and skill level within three to six months.  While I haven't nearly mastered all of the material yet, I do feel more confident in my stand-up game.  

If you're the type of person who can patiently watch and sift through 17+ hours of material with explanations that are laid out like a college nuclear physics/quantum mechanics textbook on video, then this set will absolutely be worth it to you in the long run.  Pretty much just like every other Danaher product.

If however you're one of those guys who've tried to watch some of Danaher's material, but just couldn't make it 15 minutes without screaming at your television/computer monitor for him to just get to the point, then you might want to skip this one.  Perhaps you could buy it as a gift for one of your more patient, cerebral friends, and then ask them to translate the Cliff Notes version for you.

Conclusion

For me this set was definitely worth it. I've got more than enough material to work with for awhile. I've already seen some improvements from incorporating some of the ideas contained therein.  And I'm confident with enough time and hard work that this will be of great benefit to my stand-up game. If you've been on the fence about this one, I hope this review helps. Head on over to BJJ Fanatics and check it out!

Take care, and happy training!

- Big Mike

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