De La Riva Basics

If you are relatively new to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and maybe wondering how that “De La Riva” guard that everyone talks about can help you, this may be a good starting info for you.

De La Riva is a fantastic guard to play and to attack from it, but you need to know what you are doing. A form of open guard, it was popularised in Jiu-jitsu by Carlson Gracie black belt Ricardo De La Riva in the 1980s. This can be a very offensive guard that can be used to set up sweeps and submissions, and is used a lot in high-level competition.

It’s a very useful guard even against bigger opponents as you can keep their weight off you while working to upset their base and sweep passing attempts whether the passer is standing or on their knees.

De La Riva Guard
De La Riva Guard

Key Concepts

De La Riva is known for its outside hook BUT it’s important to control your opponent’s heel to prevent him from turning his front knee out and disengaging your hook.

Focus on controlling his lead leg with your grip and hook while forcing his other leg back like trying to make him do the splits.

It’s important NOT to let your opponent square up to you and remove your front leg hook. Always use your free foot to push his hip and frustrate his base.

Use your grips to control your opponent’s upper body. You can use either ‘double sleeve’, ‘sleeve and collar’, ‘sleeve and heel’, or ‘collar and heel’ kind of control.

Your grips will also help prevent your opponent from doing foot lock attempts on your free foot.

Of course, some basic or – more desirable – advanced guard retention principles are required for this kind of guard to be successful.

Patiently work on controlling your opponent from here, preventing any pass attempts and constantly upsetting his base. Then pick three of four techniques and drill them without resistance, before adding them to your positional sparring.

Stephan Kesting shows us some absolute basic stuff in this 5 min. long video:

  • The four and a half fundamental grips for the de la Riva guard, and
  • how they determine which techniques and combinations you’re going to use.

Nick Albin, in BJJ Community widely known as “Chewy” of the popular Chewjitsu website and YouTube Channel, is a BJJ black belt who currently teaches/trains Jiu-Jitsu full time and is the head instructor at Derby City Mixed Martial Arts in Louisville, KY.

In the following video, Chewy first talks about some basic ideas of the De La Riva position. These are techniques and ideas that he shows to his White Belts in class.

He then shows a very easy entry into the position that is shown to his BJJ White Belts in his gym.

Then, there goes an incredibly basic sweep often called a Hook Sweep. It’s a very common and not so complicated sweep to execute.

At the very end of the video, Chewy describes a hierarchy of attacking in BJJ, which goes:

Entries –> Control –> Execution

It can be applied to any attack. Entry first, because you cannot execute anything unless you are in that exact position that you planned for. Control because you need to hold the opponent in place, at least for some time. And then, finally, execution of sweep/attack with the specified set of technique(s).

Watch the whole sequence in the following video (5 mins.):

See also:

The X-Guard Basics

BJJ Guard Retention Essentials Guide