Will Helena Crevar Be Danaher’s First Female Champion?

4 min read
See what makes Helena Craver a remarkable contender for Danaher’s first female Champion

Helena Craver with Gordon Ryan

Will Helena Crevar Be Danaher’s First Female Champion?

See what makes Helena Craver a remarkable contender for Danaher’s first female Champion

Location: Lake Nona, FL.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Photo by: helenajiujitsugirl

With Gordon Ryan, the world’s leading No-Gi grappler, as his student and Helena Craver — a 15-year-old martial artist with plenty of grappling potential under his wing, John Danaher has assumed the role of mentor to another prodigy in New Wave Jiu Jitsu. You’ve probably heard about the Ruotolos’ remarkable rise to fame despite their young age; soon enough, you’ll be familiar with Helena too! Even Ryan himself gives her recognition in his book for having savvy marketing skills and trademark pigtails.

Helena’s Background

Helena Craver’s journey began eight years ago when she started training in jiu-jitsu. She has had the privilege of learning from world champion Hector Vasquez at Cobrinha BJJ Las Vegas. However, eager to learn more, Helena and her parents relocated to Austin so she could take advantage of training with the renowned coach John Danaher – one of the best in the business.

At only 15 years of age, she is a blue belt in BJJ and has already achieved remarkable success. Out of her 151 fights, she won 148, 130 via submission! Her accomplishments have earned her the 6th place rank globally for 145 pounds women’s division with 5 Fight 2 Win Championship belts and 4 Naga Expert belts too. She even has an exclusive partnership with BJJ Fanatics to release instructionals!

In January, Helena will turn 16 and yet already has accomplished much. She is also a proud six-time winner of the IBJJF PAN Kids and the owner of a junior championship belt from Fight 2 Win that she won and defended four times…. If these accomplishments weren’t enough she recently took home first place for teens at the ADCC.

The young prodigy often takes on adults with brown and black belts in superfights and NoGi trials. Some of these ladies, such as Elizabeth Clay, whom she fought during the ADCC West Coast Trial 2022, are renowned names in BJJ. Additionally, at the ADCC Las Vegas Open 2022, she faced accomplished competitor Nathalie Ribeiro…. Helena is moving up quickly!

Could she be the first female champion in Danaher’s black belt division? Having already graded a female black belt, a female champion could be next for the renowned coach.

The Announcement

Helena posted the news on her Instagram:

“With this post, I’d like to announce that me and my parents just moved to Austin, Texas and that I will be training and competing under @danaherjohn @gordonlovesjiujitsu and the New Wave JiuJitsu team. I’m super grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to representing New Wave!”

In a recent Jiujiteira Magazine interview, Danaher spoke on the fact that he doesn’t have a female champion yet:

“On the face of it, one of the great failures of my career thus far, is that I’ve never produced a female champion. And it’s natural to ask me: ‘Why?'”

“Part of the answer is that I never engage in recruiting; I never actively “pull” people to the gym… I open the door, and whoever comes, I teach. So, it tends to be a self-selected group of people that I teach. And the door is open two ways; to walk in and to walk out, and a lot of people walk out. My teaching style isn’t for everybody. Some people like it, some people don’t.”

Additionally, He emphasized that he never pushes people to compete:

“In the gym itself, there is a pretty high number of females. But I never push people to compete. I was never the coach that would say: “Hey man, you’re good! You gotta go out and compete. I’ve literally never said that. I never recruit, and I never tell people they have to compete, and so what happens is that the people who compete always do so of their own volition. So, I do have many female students. Some of them do compete, but I don’t actively push them to compete.

Nevertheless, Danaher believes that it’s inevitable for a New Wave female champion to come on the scene soon:

“I do believe that inevitably in the future – as the number of female athletes increases – we will start seeing female champions. But I have never actively pushed for any one group of people to succeed in competition. So, it’s been a self-selecting process. The females who train with me are already achieving a good level of competence, and one day, they’re going to be successful in competition.”

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