During quarantine, I watched all 18 hours of Danaher’s Pin Escapes and Giles’ Fundamentals of BJJ Escapes instructionals, and took careful notes on everything, eventually totaling 48 typed, single-spaced pages. These are my thoughts. TL;DR
Both are excellent sets, and both are applicable to both gi and no-gi. Danaher’s wins on depth
, while Giles’ wins on breadth
. I recommend Giles’ set for white belts, due to lower price and greater number of positions dealt with, while Danaher’s is better for those further along who still have trouble getting basic mount and side control escapes to work for them and need extra details. Value
Danaher: $197 for 10 hours, 52 minutes, 17 seconds = 3 min 19 sec per $; produced 26 pages of notes = $7.57 per page of notes; information density of 25 minutes per page
Giles: $127 for 7 hours, 14 minutes, 12 seconds = 3 min 25 sec per $; produced 22 pages of notes = $5.77 per page of notes; information density of 19 minutes 42 seconds per page Introductory Blather
Danaher: 1 hour, 24 minutes. Lots of repetition here, in an “I just said this in voiceover to PowerPoint slides, and now I'm going to say it again while looking into the camera” way. On the other hand, he presents a lot of careful analysis on what constitutes a pin, and based on that, presents a 5-step heuristic for escaping pins, worked examples of which constitute the rest of the Pin Escapes instructional.
Giles: 28 minutes. No Danaher-esque theoretical analysis here, but he does include some useful practical advice on how to go about learning the material on the instructional and how to incorporate it into one's game. Much of the content is in the titles of the sections listed on the order page for this product on bjjfanatics.com. Have you ever watched the fundamentals section of the Grapplers Guide? You know the videos that have a clear title, like “Don't chew gum on the mats,” and you click on it, and it's a 7-minute video of Jason Scully talking about why you shouldn't chew gum on the mats, and you watch until the end like the fool you are, and you get to the end, and you think, “Why the heck was this a video? And how could he talk so fast for so long and still say nothing more than the title?” Well, much of this is like that. (Sorry, Jason. You know I love Grapplers Guide and I'm only kidding. Kinda.) (Sorry, Lachlan. You know the only reason I got Grapplers Guide was for your videos, and I'm only kidding. Kinda.) Fundamental Moves
Danaher: 39 minutes. Everything in this section is covered more in depth, with better camera angles and better explanation, in Danaher's free instructional, Self-Mastery: BJJ Solo Drills
. The content is fantastic, but the only real reason you'd watch this instead of BJJ Solo Drills is because it's shorter and covers only the movements you need for this escape instructional. Pin Escapes covers seven basic body movements (counting sliding shrimps and rising shrimps separately); Solo Drills covers about two dozen movements, depending on how you divide them.
Giles: 22 minutes. Covers eleven basic body movements. Of these, the hip escape, reverse hip escape, and gongoa shoulder roll are basically the same as equivalent techniques shown by Danaher. The Bridge and the Bridge and Roll are very similar to what Danaher teaches, but each has a couple of details missing or added from what the other shows. Interestingly, on the Bridge and Roll, Giles teaches to do a side crunch toward the side you're rolling, which is exactly the opposite of what Matt Thornton teaches
. I haven't had the opportunity in quarantine to try them both out and decide which one I like best. Mount Escapes
Danaher: 2 hours, 8 minutes. As expected, it's long-winded and repetitive. He literally takes 8 minutes and 55 seconds to say “Don't put your hand on his knee unless you keep your elbow from being exposed.” Also, the chapter titles are supremely unhelpful, e.g. “Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 1” through “Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 7.” Here are my subtitles to help distinguish one from the other; more will follow in other sections:
Bridging Escape From Mounted Position (Basic Version)
Bridging Escape From Mounted Position 2 (Misdirectional Bridging)
Bridging Escape From Mounted Position 3 (Dealing with the Grapevine)
Bridging Escape From Mounted Position 4 (Dealing with Crossface Hold)
Bridging Escape From Mounted Position 5 (Bridging as Setup for Elbow Escape)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position (Basic Version)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 2 (Serpentine Motion & High Mount)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 3 (Going Directly For the Knee)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 4 (Use of Hand and Elbow)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 5 (Don't Expose Your Back)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 6 (Leg Shimmying)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position 7 (Dealing with Crossface)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position - Ankle Trap Method (Transitional Escape from Knee Drive to Mount by Turning Away)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position - Ankle Trap Method 2 (Transitional Escape from Knee Drive to Mount by Turning In)
Elbow Escape From Mounted Position - Ankle Trap Method 3 (Transitional Escape from Stepover Method)
As you can see, Danaher basically only teaches two escapes, and focuses on giving details, options, strategies, and applications of these rather than exploring other escapes.
Giles: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Giles is straightforward and concise in his explanations. Unlike Danaher, Giles shows many of his techniques in footage of actual rolls with upper belts, with a voiceover explanation, which I found quite illuminating. Content-wise, Giles covers the two major escapes Danaher covers, but in less detail. For instance, he doesn’t even touch on the “knee-down” variation of the elbow-escape that Danaher prefers. He covers the importance of inside leg position
in mostly the same way Danaher does. On the other hand, he spends a significant amount of time discussing the battle for inside arm position, which Danaher seems unconcerned with. Giles also covers escapes from S-mount and includes a high-percentage escape directly to SLX. Giles covers a couple of submission escapes (cross-collar choke, americana, and armbar), whereas Danaher only addresses positional escapes. Side Control Escapes
Danaher: 5 hours, 16 minutes. Here’s the meat of the set: five hours of side control escapes. This is what you bought the set for; admit it. You’ve always had trouble escaping side control, and you’re willing to shell out whatever Danaher asks if he can just share the secret to escaping side control.
You imagine the look on that 300-lb. Bubba’s face as you slip your scrawny, pencil-necked 130-lb. frame out from under him, laughing deliriously, and scurry up his back. You imagine the admiring looks of that cute purple belt you’ve been trying to impress, as well as the satisfied nod of your coach as you see him thinking Yep, he’ll be ready for the next belt come promotion day.
So, does he deliver? You betcha. In spades. Twenty minutes into this section, my mind was blown at how little BJJ I knew. I knew the gross muscle movements, of course, but the difference was all the fine details – all of which I had been blind or oblivious to thus far. I felt like all my escapes so far were the equivalent of peering into the storefront windows of a BJJ gym, watching furious action from a distance, unable to hear or understand the significance of what was happening.
Sometimes the audio quality is poor. About 38 and a half minutes into Volume 7, a sound like a wobbly fan is heard in the background. It never prevents you from understanding what Danaher says, but it’s pretty distracting. It makes me think their mats are in a basement, and just off camera is a washing machine, surrounded by piles of dirty laundry and a big orange box of Tide detergent.
Unfortunately, although he includes escapes from north/south, knee on belly, and kuzure kesa gatame
(sitout with far side underhook), and even reverse kuzure kesa gatame
, he does not include any escapes from standard kesa gatame
(scarf hold). I consider this a serious oversight, as anyone with a judo background is bound to use the scarf hold.
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 1 (Introduction)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 2 (Moving His Head)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 3 (Inserting the Knee)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 4 (Dealing with Crossface)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 5 (Asymetrical Bridging)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 6 (Misc Tricks)
Elbow Escapes from Side Position 7 (Dealing with the Hip Block)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 1 (Introduction)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 2 (Beating the Crossface)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 3 (Fighting for the Underhook)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 4 (Anchoring on his Leg)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 5 (Finishing the Single Leg – Leg Hook)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 6 (Finishing the Single Leg – Elbow to the Floor)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 7 (Finishing the Single Leg – Moving Under the Sprawl)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 8 (Hand Grips)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 9 (Opponent’s Knee Position)
Knee Escapes from Side Position 10 (Putting Things Together)
Giles: 2 hours, 15 minutes. While Giles’ escapes from standard side control are certainly serviceable and effective (the frame and guard recovery
and the underhook escape to knees
), they didn’t wow me in the details like Danaher’s did. On the other hand, his escapes from related positions – north/south, knee on belly, and kesa gatame variations – are systems that are generally more complete than the ones Danaher presents, covering almost every variation you’ll encounter. Back Control Escapes
Danaher: 36 minutes. Thirty-six minutes? That’s it? After spending five hours on side control escapes, you couldn’t even manage a full hour for back escapes? What happened? Did Matthias decide not to put up with the abuse your lapdog Placido was always willing to take? Or did Bernardo Faria set a hard limit of 11 hours to a set? Not even a body triangle escape? Lazy, Danaher. Lazy. And as always, the chapter titles are unhelpful. My subtitles:
Sliding Escape (Basic Version)
Sliding Escape 2 (Escape from Lapel Choke)
Sliding Escape 3 (Escaping to the Opposite Side)
Sliding Escape 4 (Preventing Face-Down Rear Mount)
Giles: 1 hour, 38 minutes. Here’s a turn-around: Giles spends nearly three times as long as Danaher on back escapes. And it’s far more comprehensive: Giles shows escapes from both the overhook side as well as the underhook side, escaping the shoulders first and escaping the hips first, including how to deal with hooks and the body triangle. Plus, Giles caps it off with some excellent rolling footage. Turtle Escapes
Danaher: 48 minutes. Solid escapes for both one arm around the waist and the seatbelt/harness grip.
Giles: 35 minutes. Doesn’t cover the one arm around the waist situation, but makes up for it by covering turtle positions where your opponent’s got a hook in, an underhook, or two underhooks, none of which Danaher covers. Front Headlock Escapes
Danaher: Doesn’t cover this at all. Not even on his Front Headlocks instructional. Bad Danaher. No cookie for you.
Giles: 47 minutes. Very good escapes for both chokes and attempts to take the back from the front headlock position. Thorough with important details highlighted.
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