The Evolution of the De la Riva Guard

The De La Riva Guard is a quite recent jiu-jitsu technique, created during the 80’s, by Ricardo De La Riva. Of the jiu-jitsu techniques that involve the names of athletes – “Kimura”, “Ezequiel”and “De La Riva” – this is the only one that is named after a jiu-jitsu athlete and is the only one of the three that actually arose from the evolution of jiu-jitsu, considering that Kimura and Ezequiel were judokas and the techniques that are named after them are ancient Judo techniques ( “Kimura” is known in judo as “Ude Garami”, and “Ezequiel” is known in judo as “Sode Guruma Jime”).

Master Ricardo De La Riva started training BJJ in 1980, having been awarded his black belt from the hands of master Carlson Gracie in 1986. He presented excellent performance in competitions, having beaten various Jiu-jitsu legends that were, until then, unbeatable in certain competitions. His most notable performance was during the Copa Cantão Championship, in the middle of 1986.  Additionally, he also trained and helped train great BJJ and MMA athletes.

At the time of its appearance, the guard style most used in jiu-jitsu was the “Closed Guard”. Having a smaller physique than that of his training colleagues, de la Riva was practically forced to train using the Open Guard technique. It was during the use of this guarding technique (when he  was still a brown belt) that he realized that he was successfully unbalancing many of his training partners, particularly when he used his feet as a hook (this technique arose due to, in his own words, his instinct of survival). Having understood the potential of his discovery, De La Riva put his creativity to work. Since he was already training at the academy with some of the best guard passers in the world, this was the perfect laboratory to conduct tests. It was then that his partners started calling the position “Guarda Pudim” (Pudding Guard”), due to the instability that it caused to the passers balance, making them wobble like a pudding.

The title that called the attention of Jiu-Jitsu followers to De La Rivawas, coincidentally, the same that brought acknowledgement to his new guard: the 1986 Copa Cantão Championship in which he participated as an underdog and ended up being proclaimed champion. Few believed that De La Riva had any chance of beating the undisputed favorite but he proved that he was worthy of the challenge and, taking utmost advantage of his referenced hook, won the fight after the referee’s decision. The fight received a lot of coverage from the jiu-jitsu specialized media which used the term“De La Riva Guard” to describe this new position.

Since its first appearance, the De La Riva Guard has not stopped evolving. It is adopted by many world champions and has become one of the most taught jiu-jitsu techniques. It is a position that has extrapolated its original format, having today various different developments, inversions and adjustments.

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