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Stop the De La Riva Guard with a Toe Hold with Tom DeBlass

Stop the De La Riva Guard with a Toe Hold with Tom DeBlass


The De La Riva guard has long been regarded as one of the earliest and most well-developed versions of open guard that have existed in the history of BJJ.  Popularized by its namesake Ricardo de la Riva who is credited with being the pioneer behind the guard after using it to defeat a previously undefeated Royler Gracie at the black belt level. 

The De La Riva guard is primarily used against an opponent who is attempting some sort of standing guard pass.  By controlling the standing opponent's heel and wrapping one's thigh around their leg extending the foot as a hook towards the opposing leg and hip, one can create a very unsettling position and make it very difficult for that opponent to pass.

The De La Riva guard continues to be very popular amongst practitioners because of it's ability to maintain strong control of an opponent's thigh while using a deceptively simple foot/hook to unbalance an opponent and set up a number of sweeps.  Modern competitors have used the De La Riva as a starting point for inversions, berimbolos and back takes.

In this preview clip, Tom DeBlass shows a way to threaten and defeat the De La Riva with an easy, but nasty toe hold foot lock.  This "High Tech BJJ in the Gi" preview will have your opponents thinking twice before trying to sweep you. For DeBlass with the increased focus on leg attacks and fewer and fewer grapplers "ignoring 50% of the human body", the De La Riva can be exploited and defeated. Take a look below and let's break it down. 

 In this example the opponent has a deep De La Riva hook driving through to Tom's far leg and he is beginning to turn Tom's near leg knee away which is bad for Tom.  The first step in defeating the De La Riva in this case is to secure the free foot of the opponent.  For most De La Riva guard players, this foot is best served on the mats allowing them to be be mobile.  In this case, the opponent makes a tactical area and allows it to be snatched up by DeBlass.

Pay close attention to how DeBlass snatches this foot.  If he grabs with his inside hand, which also happens to be the hand that covers the toes, this can alert the opponent to your plan prematurely, allowing them to make adjustments, abandoning the De La Riva and escaping their legs before you have a chance to secure the submission.  DeBlass strategically grabs the foot with the outside arm, so as not to reveal too much too soon.

From here he must quickly come down upon the the opponent's hip to prevent escape and adjustment.  By bringing his knees together to pinch the leg and settling his weight on top of the opponent, not off to the side which would all for mobility, he can finish the toe hold quickly and efficiently.

So the next time you find yourself caught in De La Riva's namesake "pudding guard" which was the original name used to describe the guard because of the unsolid ground the standing opponent would find themselves on, try this extremely simple and effective "High Tech BJJ in the Gi" style technique from the one and only Tom DeBlass.

And if you want to add more "High Tech BJJ in the Gi" techniques to your arsenal, you will want to check out the newest release from Tom DeBlass at BJJ Fanatics.  Available in 4 volume DVD or On Demand formats, this set will have you "Dominating" the Gi like his "Half Domination" had you dominating No Gi halfguard.  Check it out today!


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