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The De La Riva Guard is a form of open guard with origins in judo that was popularized by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) legend Ricardo De La Riva. The De La Riva guard involves the bottom player hooking the top player’s front leg from the outside with his or her leg. From this position, the ankle of the top player’s hooked leg is controlled by one of the bottom player’s hands, while the top player’s sleeve or collar is controlled by the bottom player’s other hand. The De La Riva guard can be used to execute a number of sweeps, and it is an excellent starting point to transition to other types of guards, such as the single leg X–guard and X-guard.
De La Riva guard early history
As noted above, an early version of the De La Riva guard was utilized in judo. However, in the early 1980s in Brazil, a BJJ practitioner named Ricardo De La Riva began to develop an entire system from this position. Ricardo, who was a student at the Carlson Gracie Academy, began using this unique guard system due to his slender frame and bigger, stronger teammates. During this time period, the open guard was widely used among BJJ practitioners, and it was from the basic open guard that Ricardo began to develop his signature guard. As he began to experiment with this guard style, Ricardo quickly realized that it was an excellent sweeping position due to the instability that it caused his opponents.
Birth of the De La Riva guard
The De La Riva guard officially received its name following a match between Ricardo De La Riva and Royler Gracie. This match, which was widely covered by the Brazilian press, pitted De La Riva against the undefeated Gracie in a featherweight contest. At the time, Gracie was undefeated as a black belt and widely considered to be one of the best BJJ fighters in the world. During the match, De La Riva utilized his signature guard to secure the win over Royler. In covering the match, the press referred to this position as the De La Riva guard, and the name stuck.
Evolution of the De La Riva guard
Since its development by Ricardo De La Riva in the 1980s, the De La Riva guard has continued to evolve, and it has been utilized in high-level competition by champions such as the Miyao brothers and the Mendes brothers. The guard has also gained popularity as the entry point to the Berimbolo, a BJJ technique that involves inverting and taking an opponent’s back. In addition, the De La Riva guard presents a number of opportunities for sweeps and transitions.
Benefits of the De La Riva guard
The De La Riva guard offers a number of benefits to BJJ practitioners, including:
- When done correctly, the De La Riva guard gives practitioners a high level of control over their opponents.
- The De La Riva guard shuts down a number of today’s popular guard passes and makes it very difficult for opponents to step around the guard player’s legs.
- The De La Riva guard gives the bottom player an extensive number of options, including back takes, sweeps, chokes, armbars, leg locks, and transitions to other types of guards.
How to establish the De La Riva guard
There are a number of ways to enter the De La Riva guard, including entries from the standing and sitting positions. Regardless of how it is entered into, however, the De La Riva guard is established as follows:
- Control your opponent’s right ankle with your left hand (this and the following steps assume that your opponent’s right leg is forward)
- Place your left leg around the outside of your opponent’s right thigh
- Insert your left foot between your opponent’s legs
- Control your opponent’s lapel, belt, left sleeve, or right sleeve with your free hand.
Once the De La Riva guard has been established, the bottom player may then initiate sweeps, submissions, and transitions to other positions.