BJJ #2 – De La Riva Guard

image taken from

Ok so my plan to get some more regular gi-training took a huge shot in the arse due in part to niggling injuries, work pressure and family life but mostly due to my own lack of self-discipline. It is massively inconvenient to get in from work at 5:30/6pm and then literally have time for a quick drink and a catch up with the wife and kids before jumping in the car for a 45 minute drive to training. Of course people with a lot more self-discipline than I, probably drive a lot further to seek out their training and I know that when you really don’t feel like dragging your butt to training it’s easy to find excuses. What I have come to realise (finally!) is that, if you find that little push to get yourself there you can actually end up having a very rewarding session even if you didn’t feel like going at all before!

I have changed things up a little and chosen to go on mondays instead of thursdays now, I finish work at 4pm on mondays because the kids have swimming lessons at 4:30pm. As I don’t have to leave for training until 6:45, I get some time with the family to unwind after a shitty day in the office before I head out.
So last night I finally got back into it and it was a really good session – with a few shocks as well that I will talk about later! The monday session on the club schedule is called “BJJ Black Belt Program”. This is not some weird fast track scheme but has been devised by the coaches instructor – Victor Estima – and is more advanced than the fundamentals classes and really aimed at blue belts and above. White Belts are welcome along though, and it was good for me as there were more higher grades there than the last time I trained. We started off with drilling the Spider Guard to De La Riva transition: How to get there to it from closed guard and getting a feel for the position. We then moved into a couple of techniques from De La Riva.

The mechanics of the techniques were to start in closed guard with two thumb-out grips on thier cuffs. You then shrimp back to get both feet on their hips and using a pull (with the grips) and push (with the feet on hips) you force them to stand up in order to remove the danger of being armbarred /triangled from bad posture. Once they stand up you shrimp again, posting on the right foot and hipping out moving your head down to your left, you then insert your right foot in the crook of their left elbow and using this “spider hook” and your cuff grip you extend you right leg and bring them into you. You then switch your grip with your right hand to their right sleeve, hook your left arm around their right leg and move your hips closer to that leg, so you can get to de la riva guard.

From there you off balance them, using a push away with your right leg as you pull their right ankle in turning their knee. You then bring your right leg across the back of their right leg and using your shin, drive into the back of their right knee to collapse it to the ground. From here you can sit up and take the back or pull them into you and roll to take their back that way.

If for whatever reason you cannot collapse their leg, you bring your right foot to their armpit with your knee underneath the arm and the top of the foot hooking under their armpit, reach over with your left arm and grab their right elbow and then bridge up to your right using the left foot on the hip as a post so you are up on your right shoulder and your feet are on your opponent. You can then turn belly down and hit an armbar or if that fails, roll back the other way shooting your right leg across them as you roll to their back and pull on their arm to get them into a triangle.

Not the most basic of techniques by any means but it was interesting to play with a position I have never used in No-Gi before. I can see it opens up a lot of possibilities and when I rolled a few times with Matt Benyon in Bournemouth he hit a sweep where he moves to back and kicks my legs out from under me whilst grabbing my belt and pulling me into an RNC a few times from this position.

Sparring was good, only did two 6 minutes rounds as I missed the third round as someone else sat out and that left an odd number so their was no-one else to roll with. Didn’t get to roll with any higher grades but went with a new white belt called Kev and a 3 stripe white belt (also called Kev) who I met once when I rolled with Symon Jenner at his old gym (3rd Wave in winchester). I completely gassed against the 3 stripe whitebelt and ended up tapping early to a couple of sub attempts that werent really on in the final minute or so as I didn’t have the energy to work out of them. Pretty poor really and not great for my partner (who I apologised to). My gas tank has suffered massively from my lack of training and that is something I really need to work on more.

All in all a decent session and I am resolved to make this a regular thing as it can only help me improve my mediocre grappling skills (and piss-poor cardio!!!).

So at the beginning of this post I mentioned a shock in training, and I got it from my first “live” experience of that weird BJJ tradition of belt whipping. Never really got it myself and as I never trained in the gi an awful lot I didnt think about it too much. But I had two misconceptions:

  • That it was some king of running the gauntlet thing where the recipient of a new belt ran between two lines of his teammates and they attempted to whip him as he ran past
  • That you only got belt whipped if you went up a full belt level.

Something like this:

(image taken from slideys blog)
Turns out I was wrong on both counts as the coach made the nights 5 recipients of white belt stripes “assume the position” against the wall (with gi top OFF). We then all took turns to whip them – with some people getting much more into it than others! I was a little reluctant to join in, seeing as I am a new face at the gym but was told to “get involved”. As I was the last one I could see blood had been drawn on some of the guys so I went super-easy on them. Partly becuase they’d had enough and partly because I still felt that as the “FNG” I shouldn’t be doing it!

Second shock of the evening was finding out that the alternative to recieving a whipping was to be given the option to be choked-out by the coach. One guy has apparently done some drunken boasting on facebook that when he got his next promotion/stripe that he would have the whipping and the choke-out. He got his wish, but it was really horrible to watch. He went out and then started convulsing on the floor as he was brought round. Not seen that before in training!!! He came round really quick and actually seemed very happy he had done it with no obvious ill-effects, but I’m not sure that is the best way to celebrate getting your second stripe on your belt!

I have no pre-conceptions of how I will progress in BJJ but I am not relishing the belt-whipping if/when I do. And I will be giving the choke-out option a seriously wide berth!!


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