Countering the Berimbolo
The berimbolo has become an extremely popular position. Almost every academy has a couple of guys who love to berimbolo and it can be very difficult to deal with. Why is it so difficult to deal with? There are so many minor details that just missing one inch can cause your back to be taken.
The first step to defending something as complicated as the berimbolo is to learn the position. Check out our articles “Berimbolo for People who don’t Berimbolo,” and "Ways to Make Your Berimbolo Strong". These are great resources for anyone who needs to learn the position. There are other steps you can take to defending the berimbolo, starting with a good base and posture. There is no berimbolo if you don’t fall or get swept. Two other options are to pressure pass and to directly counter. We'll go through each technique in detail below so you'll be prepared next time you encounter the tricky berimbolo.
Base and Posture vs Berimbolo
For the most part, the berimbolo starts from the De La Riva position. Assuming your opponent has put you in a De La Riva guard and wants to berimbolo you, you cannot let them sweep you. There is not berimbolo if they can’t get your butt on the ground. With good base and posture you can avoid getting swept.
Good posture in De La Riva is squatting with your back strait, having good grips, and actively controlling the leg that is not the DLR hook. Once you have good posture, you can start attacking passes. There are dangers when being very adamant about not letting your opponent sweep you in DLR. There is a very good back take from DLR that you need to be aware of. Check out the back take below.
Pressure Passing vs Berimbolo
Now we know that the berimbolo comes from the De La Riva. It would be obvious to say that if you don’t let your opponent establish a good DLR than you can avoid the berimbolo. This is easier said than done. Let's assume that your opponent managed to get a good DLR hook. Now how can we apply pressure?
To pressure pass the DLR you need to have excellent posture and base and one of the best and simplest passes is a strong knee cut from “head quarters.” “Head Quarters” position is a fancy name for good posture. If you can get the good posture, you can continue to knee slice and negate your opponent from the berimbolo. Lucas Lepri is a multiple time black belt world champion and won the black belt worlds without conceiving a point. He is infamous for an amazing knee cut and nullifying De La Riva. Check out a knee cut with Lucas Lepri below.
Direct Counters to the Berimbolo
So we have established the the berimbolo is one of the most difficult positions to deal with. The trick is obviously not to get swept, keep good base, good posture, and enforce your game. This is all easier said than done though, right? What happens if our opponent is a berimbolo expert like the Miyao Brothers, or the Mendes Brothers? What then?
Well, if someone has you in De La Riva and they manage to sweep you to your butt and start initiating the berimbolo, all hope is not yet lost. Believe it or not, there are some direct counters to the berimbolo. They may not be the most effective and fool-proof counter, but at least you will have options. First, lets talk about what not to do. One of the most common ways to deal with the berimbolo is to go into a toe hold or a knee bar. Against a good berimbolo player this is a terrible idea. There are countless examples of people attempting knee bars and toe holds on the Miyao Brother or Mendes Brothers and getting their back taken.
A good option is when you fall to your butt, try and establish a frame against your opponent so they can't scoot underneath you. You can also attempt to get into single leg X. Single Leg X can nullify your opponent's berimbolo. One of the only safe foot locks to go for against a berimbolo player is the straight footlock. Not even in an attempt to submit them but just to nullify their berimbolo. Osvaldo Queixinho has gone against both the Mendes and Miyao brothers and managed to stop their berimbolo. Check out his counter:
Counter the Berimbolo with a Back Take
Another great counter to the berimbolo is to attempt to take their back. Yes, when someone berimbolos you, theoretically there may be a moment where their back is exposed and you can try and "Re-bolo" them to take their back. A lot of times when someone is trying to berimbolo you, you just have to get your knee behind their knee before they get their knee behind yours. It is one of the small battles within the scrambles typical to this position. Check out Xande Ribeiro below demonstrating a counter to the berimbolo where he takes his opponents back.
If you really want to defend the berimbolo, we highly suggest learning every aspect of it. Who knows, if you study it enough, maybe you will become a berimbolo master yourself. Check out our article “Berimbolo not as intimidating as it looks.” This is a great resource, and for those that want the attention to detail, check out the Miyao Brothers 4 DVD set “berimbolo and beyond.” The Miyao Brothers are infamous for their bolos and they’re the best in the game at it.
If you want to learn some incredible pressure passes that will counter the Berimbolo before it ever happens, check out Bernardo Faria's 4 DVD set, "Battle Tested Pressure Passing." Bernardo Faria is one of the best pressure passe sin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has an incredible system.