On the heels of his match against Eliot Kelly at F2W Pro in Denver over the past weekend, I had the chance to attend a seminar with Gordon Ryan, who if you're not familiar with him is one of the leading submission grapplers in the world at the moment. The seminar was about 2 hours of technique, 30 minutes of Q&A, and 30 minutes of rolling. We spend the bulk of the seminar covering how to attack once you have the back, and I can tell you that it was pretty mind blowing. The DDS mantra seems to be reducing relatively complex sequences to the smallest number of important cues possible, and that held true for their back attacking system as well. The manner in which they set up arm trapping and deal with common defenses has clearly been deeply researched and tested at the highest levels, and you can feel as you move through the technique that this is stuff that will work against anyone. One thing Eddie Cummings and Gordon emphasized was the need to create dilemmas for your opponent, which they're using in the philosophical sense to mean situations where all your choices are bad. All BJJ relies to a certain extent upon having reactions ready to predictable counters from your opponents, but I don't think I've ever seen a school that places as much emphasis on trying to specifically create situations in which your opponent is almost forced into going into a worse position (as opposed to being allowed to statically defend, say) as Danaher's. In addition to the back attacks we covered some heel hook finishing mechanics which were very similar to what Eddie had showed but with a few adjustments that were helpful for me as I'm built more like Gordon than Eddie and that makes a difference in how you apply leverage. There was the familiar emphasis on breaking things as opposed to just making ligaments pop, but it's hard to argue with that way of thinking when you consider the sorts of locks that these guys' opponents will just gut out. The Q&A was relatively short and to the point, I didn't get the feeling anything was held back though Gordon had less of a tendency to expound on answers than Eddie. Rolling was a lot of fun. Gordon rolled with whoever wanted to until submission, and I'd say he was going about 60% with me and the other higher belts (I was going about 80%, wanted to be competitive but also able to pay attention to what was happening). Most of us got about 3-4 minutes in before he'd start really going for the finish. Predictably, I got heel hooked after trying for a leg lock of my own (probably not the best idea, but the position required it. C'est la vie). His control on the heel hook was very impressive, I started to defend and he just totally shut down my defense and took the lock very slowly for which I was thankful. Having heard some somewhat negative reviews of Gordon's attitude as a presenter in the past, I feel like I should comment on that as well. He did not come across as warm or genial in the way someone like Braulio does, but he wasn't dismissive of any questions and he took the time to give thorough answers when asked for elaboration on moves. Honestly, he struck me as a very young guy with a (largely justified) very high opinion of himself and not a lot of time for BS who was learning to temper his attitude and self presentation as a natural part of the maturation process. When he was wrapping up the seminar his comments about wanting to make sure everyone got what they were looking for having taken the time and paid the money to come out seemed very genuine; I think he did care about doing a good job. I would definitely do another seminar with him, those guys are on the leading edge of the refinement of submission oriented BJJ and I don't think you could find a more well codified system than what Danaher has bequeathed to his leading students. Well worth the time and money.