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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

18 October 2011

18/10/2011 - Gracie Barra Bristol (de la Riva)

Class #425
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Donal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 18/10/2011

Jiu Jitsu Style issue 5 is now out (you can get JJS through iTunes, in the US or in the UK, among other countries): if there are any students from Gracie Barra Bristol reading, those pictures from the photo shoot a while back are included (so, the one before Mick Wilson), with an exclusive Geeza interview! Lots of other great stuff in there too, from a variety of writers, not just me. ;)

My wrist was a little sore from DIY this week, but I decided to just wrap it up and train anyway: I've been to class plenty of times when one of my hands wasn't working right for some reason, and it isn't too difficult to avoid relying heavily on the injured limb. The focus for this class was still open guard, but moving on from last week's spider guard into the de la Riva. After his usual excellent series of drills, Donal talked through the basic position.

You start by establishing the de la Riva hook itself, wrapping your leg behind theirs, curling the toes of your foot around their inner thigh for control. Your same side hand grabs their trouser leg on that side: you can also grab the heel, but it is easier to kick the foot free (though I know black belts disagree on this, as I've been taught both as the 'right' way to grip). Your free foot pushes into their other knee to stretch them out.

You also want to grab their far sleeve. Simply reaching for it is too obvious, as they will then pull their arm back. To be more cunning about it, you can grab their arm as they reach to grip your pant leg, or indeed grab their sleeve after they've already grabbed your pant leg. If you then kick that leg forwards while maintaining the grip on the sleeve, you're left holding their arm while they have nothing.

From that basic position, Donal progressed to a sweep. He wasn't sure if this had a name, so I'm going to refer to it as the Donal sweep. You want to get your de la Riva hook right across their far hip. In order to do so, push off with your foot on their far knee and pull down on the sleeve you've grabbed. That should enable you to turn onto your shoulder, while also providing you with the base to kick your de la Riva hook straight: Donal described it as making your body into a sort of surf board. Wrap the hooking foot around their far hip.

Return your shoulder towards the mat, so that you can then put your remaining foot underneath the de la Riva hook. This results in a sort of x-guard, but using a deep de la Riva. Sit up towards their leg, then as you drop back, pull your knees towards your chest while also yanking their sleeve. This will knock them forwards and off balance. From there, you should be able to simply turn in the direction your bottom knee is pointing to knock them to the mat.

All the way through, you need to make sure you keep that same side grip on their trouser leg. This now comes into play as you look to pass. Maintaining that grip, you can either slide your knee through to cut over their shin and pass, or you can establish a cross face and move to pass from there. You might even find you can step around and go the other way, towards their back.

Donal also briefly covered some simple tips on passing the de la Riva. The main thing is that you can simply turn your knee outwards to pop their hook off your leg if they haven't got it deep. You can also try pushing down on their leg and kicking your foot free, if they aren't being careful to maintain a good grip.

We did three bits of sparring, starting off with just trying to maintain the position as they looked to pass, which stayed fairly light. That was mainly to get used to de la Riva. Next, it was the same 1-2-3 thing, where all the 1s go on their backs and stay there, then the 2s, then the 3s. On my back, I was pleased to get the Donal sweep, even if it was just the once. After that, I was generally just maintaining and wriggling.

While trying to pass, I had some success, if I was able to either knock off their de la Riva hook by pushing the heel or stepping back and shoving their other leg down, preferably both. However, I was also sometimes being too complacent and sitting down, trying to rely on base, which isn't sensible if they've still got those strong grips. I need to make sure I break the grips first, then move into the pass.

Finally, we did free sparring. I was vaguely looking for the de la Riva, but kept ending up in spider guard or simply wiggling my legs around instead. I had an interesting roll to finish, where I was looking to grab an arm from turtle and roll them over. I isolated the arm and turned, but although I got on top, I wasn't able to secure the position. They still had their arms locked around a leg, so reversed me right back.

I also need to be careful, because at one point during all my spinning and twisting, I had my leg in a very vulnerable position. If I hadn't luckily pulled it free just as they were driving forward, I could have easily busted up my knee. That serves as another important reminder that I can't just dangle my legs anywhere I want, as my knee is not made of steel. I need to stay tight and pay more attention to the safety of my leg.

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