danaher death squad

The Danaher Death Squad Split: Unveiling the Mystery

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community was taken aback when John Danaher, the mastermind behind the Danaher Death Squad (DDS), announced the team’s breakup – a lot of people asked: Why did the team split? This elite BJJ competition team had been a dominant force in the grappling world, and its breakup left fans and practitioners puzzled. This article delves into the various facets of the DDS split, piecing together the puzzle from multiple perspectives.

The Announcement: The End of an Era

John Danaher took to Instagram to announce the breakup of the DDS. The news was shocking, as the team had been a unified training and competition powerhouse. The announcement left the BJJ community in a state of disbelief, prompting questions about the reasons behind the split.

The Formation of the “B Team”

Shortly after the announcement, core team members Craig Jones, Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinsten formed a new competition team called “The B-Team” based in Austin, Texas. This move indicated that the split was more than just a temporary hiatus; it was a significant shift in the BJJ landscape. Around the same time, also in Texas, we saw former DDS members Gordon Ryan & Garry Tonon (as well as John Danaher himself) form team New Wave.

See also our in-depth profiles of B Team Jiu Jitsu and Team New Wave.

Nicky Rodriguez’s Take

Nicky Rodriguez shed some light on the situation in an interview, stating that there had been “animosity in the room leading up to the split.” He mentioned, “There were disagreements on training methods and personal issues that couldn’t be resolved.” This statement adds a layer of complexity to the split, suggesting that internal conflicts were a contributing factor.

Danaher’s Perspective

John Danaher was a guest on the Lex Friedman Podcast, where he revealed some inside information about the DDS split. He said, “The move from New York to Puerto Rico was a significant change, and not everyone adapted well to it.” Danaher also mentioned that “differences in goals and training philosophies” led to the team’s eventual separation.

“Not only was it a team breakup, but it was a family breakup, which is much more serious. I do believe that in time even the most intense family breakups can be reconciled, and I also believe that once dialogue begins people will remember just how easy it is for us to get along and how tight we were for so many years. It’s so easy to let a minute of anger destroy 10 years of friendship.”

John Danaher – JiuJitsu Legacy

Craig Jones’ Version

Craig Jones also came forward with his version of events, adding another layer to the story. He stated, “The team was like a family, but sometimes families have disagreements that can’t be mended.” Jones also mentioned that the formation of “The B-Team” was a way to “start fresh and focus on new goals.”

“There’s a lot of personal problems through the split that not necessarily directly involved me… In terms of me having serious personal problems with anyone, I’m not really that type of person…”

Craig Jones – JiuJitsu Legacy

The Mystery Remains

Despite the various accounts and perspectives, the exact reason for the DDS split remains a mystery. What is clear, however, is that the breakup has had a significant impact on the BJJ community, leading to the formation of new teams that will likely have an enduring rivalry on the competition scene.


The Danaher Death Squad split has been a topic of much discussion and speculation in the BJJ world. While the exact reasons remain unclear, the split has led to new beginnings and has undoubtedly changed the landscape of competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As the dust settles, the BJJ community watches with keen interest to see how these changes will shape the future of the sport.


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