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The John Danaher / Priit Mihkelson Death Match

(Originally published July 20, 2020)

I would love to see a death match between John Danaher and Priit Mihkelson. Okay, not a death match. Just a friendly exhibition match would be fine. You see, I've watched a good chunk of Danaher's instructionals now, including his Back Attacks and Front Headlock systems (which covers among other things attacking the Turtle position). I've also been through all of Mihkelson's BJJ Fanatics Instructionals which focus on defense for the most part. The Turtle position is a big part of his defensive game, and I've never seen the Turtle taught quite the way he presents it.

Now Danaher's attack systems are second to none. The way he's mapped out the attack game is absolutely masterful if you have the patience to wade through it all. Pouring over his DVD's has improved my game significantly!

With that said (and I can't believe I'm saying this) I don't think he addresses the problems that a Priit Mihkelson style defense presents. Now I know that's a bold statement coming from a mere purple belt (even if I have been doing this for 20+ years). And I'm not entirely sure that I'm right. But I would love to see what Danaher would do to crack that defense.

Mihkelson is all about denying his opponent the underhook. He protects his neck with what he terms, "the boxing shoulder," thereby freeing up his hands to help defend against those underhooks. My 13 year old boy was watching his Turtle instructional with me. After watching 10 minutes or so he got bored, and started poking me (his way of telling me he's ready to wrestle). So I turn around and get ready to rough him up a little, and he goes straight to the turtle position. Now I way at least twice as much as he does, and he only watched 10 minutes of the stinking video, but I'll darned if he didn't give me a whole lot more trouble than he used to. I had to resort to tickling to get him to move his elbow away from his body so that I could get an underhook on him. Only then was I finally able to crack open his Turtle and go to work.

Now I'm no John Danaher, but Zachary's no Priit Mihkelson either. Which got me thinking... What would Danaher do? I've been through Danaher's instructionals again paying particular attention to see if there are any techniques or strategies that seem applicable to such a defense, and I've got to say if it's there I haven't found it.

I would love to see how John Danaher would go about solving the problems presented by a Priit Mihkelson style defense. In one corner, we have John Danaher with some of the best attack systems on the planet. In the other corner we have Priit Mihkelson with possibly the best (and certainly the most unique) defense I've ever seen. It would be the classic contest of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

Somebody please get these two together. Let them train with each other for a few weeks. Then come back, interview them about it (preferably on the mats so that they can demo a few things), and put it on YouTube. A sort of John Danaher/Priit Mihkelson Jam Session if you will. Heck if BJJ Fanatics would put it together as another one of their instructionals, I'd probably buy it!


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