Teaching Students About Gordon Ryan: The King of Grappling


Gordon Ryan is a name that resonates loudly within the martial arts community, especially in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and grappling. As an incredibly skilled and accomplished athlete, Ryan has already made a significant impact on the sport. As educators, we can learn from his techniques, mindset, and strategies to teach the next generation of BJJ practitioners.

Early Life and Beginning in BJJ

Gordon Ryan was born on July 8th, 1995, in Monroe Township, New Jersey. Like many children, he grew up participating in various sports like soccer and swimming. In his early teenage years, he found his passion for martial arts and began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Under the tutelage of notable BJJ instructors Tom DeBlass and Garry Tonon, Ryan started to develop his skills rapidly. By age 15, he was already considered an exceptional competitor on the local scene. As his confidence grew, so did his ambition to be among the best grapplers worldwide.

The Danaher Death Squad and Success

Gordon Ryan’s journey took him to New York City where he became a prominent member of the “Danaher Death Squad,” a group of elite BJJ competitors led by John Danaher. The squad combined their unique styles with advanced techniques which allowed them to thrive in both local and international competitions.

Ryan’s dedication paid off as success followed him at every turn. He became the youngest person to achieve the prestigious ADCC title in 2017 and has amassed numerous other championships throughout his career.

Lessons for BJJ Students

There are several lessons that aspiring students can take away from studying Gordon Ryan’s approach to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

1. Technique: Ryan is known for prioritizing technique over brute strength. This has assisted him in becoming one of the most impactful grapplers today. Students should focus on refining their technique, allowing them to use their skills efficiently and confidently.

2. Dedication: The commitment Ryan shows to BJJ allowed him to develop rapidly and excel in a highly competitive environment. Students should learn the importance of dedication, putting in the necessary hours of training to progress their skills.

3. Strategy: Ryan also emphasizes the importance of strategy in competition, carefully analyzing his opponents and adjusting his approach accordingly. Teaching students to develop a game plan will give them the greatest chance of success when competing.

4. Never-stop-learning mentality: Ryan’s willingness to learn from his mentors and seek constant improvement sets an example for BJJ students to follow. Adopting this mentality will encourage growth both on and off the mats.


Gordon Ryan is a true role model for aspiring grapplers, showcasing what can be achieved with dedication, strategy, and technique. By teaching students about his career, methods, and mindset, we can inspire a new generation to dream big and excel in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and beyond. Encouraging a strong work ethic, embracing challenges, and fostering discipline are just some of the valuable lessons that can be learned from this outstanding martial artist.

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