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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

24 November 2009

24/11/2009 - BJJ

Class #263

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 24/11/2009

Though I've made it abundantly clear I hate training takedowns, I was nevertheless interested to see this site. It's a full judo syllabus up to black belt, as far as I can tell, with elite level judoka Craig Fallon (among others) demonstrating the techniques in large animated gifs.

I also wasn't able to make the beginners session today, as the person who normally gives me a lift is now busy until around half seven on Tuesdays. So, may just be the advanced class on Tuesdays for me from now on, which is a shame. Then again, always a small chance I may finally manage to find a job, preferably in Birmingham: I'll still holding out hope of living in the Midlands again and training at Braulio's.

Tonight's focus was the De La Riva guard, specifically sweeping from there. After the throwing section, Kev went through a quick drill on moving from cross guard (by which he just meant feet on the hips while one hand grips their opposite sleeve, the other by their heel) into De La Riva.

The first De La Riva sweep starts with them in combat base (they have a knee up in your guard, other foot tucked behind), attempting to pass your guard. First, you need to secure a cross-grip, grabbing the arm by their raised knee with your opposite hand. Your remaining hand grabs behind the heel of that same leg.

Next, you need to make space to insert your De La Riva hook, bringing your same side foot past the back of that raised knee, hooking around their inner thigh with your instep. If they have already left space, great, but normally in combat base, a person will sink their butt down to prevent the De La Riva hook.

You therefore need to create that space, by putting both your feet on their hips and pushing. As soon as they leave space by their raised knee, establish the De La Riva. Your other foot should try to hook into the space behind their other knee. Usually you can wedge that in even if they're sitting on their heel, but if not, you can push on their knee instead.

Using the cross-grip on their sleeve, pull their arm across your body, to the side opposite their raised knee. Once you have them off balance, remove your grip from their heel and transfer it to around their back. As they should now have forward momentum, you can lift them with your legs and your hand grip, then drop them over their shoulder to the raised knee side. Follow through and move into side control.

Alternatively, if you find that their weight is too far to the opposite side of their raised knee, you can roll them in that direction instead. Note that in that situation, you'll have to remove your De La Riva hook before you can move round to side control, as your leg will still be wrapped in place otherwise (which it won't in the other direction).

Kev then showed what to do if during your De La Riva sweep set, they pull the arm you've cross-gripped backwards. That will make it difficult to pull them forward and grab the back, but you can still attack the other arm. Use your free arm to grip that, then transfer the sleeve to your other hand (which will be by their raised knee side). You can now sweep them to the opposite side

Finally, Kev showed how to take the back from the De La Riva. Again, you're in position, with your De La Riva hooks established on their combat base. Instead of going for a sweep, bring the foot on the opposite side of their raised knee all the way over their arm and leg, so that you can put that foot behind their knee.

You also want to have your leg over their arm, maintaining your grip on the sleeve. Generally they will pull their arm back if you do this, as otherwise, they could potentially be leaving their arm vulnerable to submission (as we found during drilling: because it was drilling rather than sparring, both I and my partner didn't initially have that reaction due to the lack of resistance, and found as a result that the arm would get into all sorts of unpleasant positions).

Transfer the grip your have around their heel to their belt. Once you've secured that, you can let go of their sleeve and use the belt grip to move behind them, getting both hands onto the belt when you get there. Keep a hook behind their knee, as you're also going to need a hook behind the other knee with your free foot. This makes it possible to knock their legs forward, pulling their belt towards you, which will open up an easy transition to back mount.

Sparring started off with Trev, whose long legs made for some bizarre positions again. The spar started in my guard, so I was trying to keep in mind the principle of knees to my chest, and also always having grips with my feet and hands. The 'ball' concept is something I read in one of jnp's posts on Bullshido a couple of years ago, but I've only found myself able to apply it to any extent recently.

It also worked well with my next sparring partner, Tom, the other blue belt in class today. In addition, I was constantly working to keep my feet on either his hips or behind his knees, inserting my shin and knee in front of his stomach if he started to break down my open guard. He did eventually put me in half guard, where I momentarily had a lockdown with double underhooks, but he swiftly escaped the lockdown using Kev's technique from last month.

Something I haven't done in the past is also make sure I'm gripping with my hands, either behind his heel, on a sleeve or the collar of his gi. So, I found I could maintain and recover open guard, but not launch any attacks (I tried a sloppy armbar, but as usual was way too obvious). I was briefly tempted to try and spin into something I'd seen on the Paraestra DVD yesterday, but will need to rewatch Yukinori Sasa many more times before it's sufficiently clear in my head to try during the pressure of sparring.

I also noticed that, four years since I bought it through the Warwick Uni judo club, my old £20 judogi has at last begun to show its age. There was a slight tear by the knee at the end of sparring. Should be easy enough to patch up though, and I've got another three gis even if this one gives up the ghost. Still, I'd miss it: very comfortable gi.


  1. I haven't tried to work De la Riva at all, though I've been hearing about it. I'm still falling back on the comfort of closed guard. Need to branch out!

  2. It's fun to play with other guards, but there is nothing wrong with developing your closed guard: you can always improve your fundamentals. Seems to work for Roger Gracie, after all. ;)

    I'm not sure if you've had a chance to listen the Fightworks Podcast interview with Relson Gracie, but he made the point that apparently, Helio ONLY used closed guard (so no butterfly, no inverted guard, no spider guard etc), and that Relson believes in following suit. He doesn't even like gripping the gi, and wants competitions to limit grips to ten seconds.

    Not that I agree with everything Helio did or said (there is much to disagree with, especially in interviews like this), but it's food for thought.

  3. Now that Caleb has gone to the trouble of transcribing the interview, which is awesome, I can quote the specific parts I'm referring to:

    Relson: The guys interviewed me before the Worlds and asked me who was going to win, and who was going to be the open champion. I responded right away that Roger was going to be the champion because he’s the only one who plays closed guard and uses the pure Gracie jiu-jitsu. Helio Gracie never taught us butterfly guard, spider guard, x-guard, any guard that had a name. He never used them.

    Caleb: There was just one guard!

    Relson: He never opened his guard! Helio Gracie never uncrossed the legs. He told everybody to keep the legs crossed. He trained a lot of chokes from the guard. Armlocks, guillotines, omoplatas, anything that could be done in the guard. The guard is the position where you have the most options for submissions.