de la Riva Guard – Part I


Sitting up in de la Riva

I’ll admit it – I love the de la Riva guard. It reminds me of my reaction to the critically-acclaimed HBO program The Wire. I was resistant to watch The Wire at first, due to its complexity and popularity. Once I gave it a go, however, I watched all five seasons in about a week. Similarly, I started investigating the DLR guard late in my Jiu Jitsu career. But once I learned a few basic sweeps I was hooked! It solved a lot of problems against a standing opponent (or kneeling with one leg up) and links together the other guards that I have practiced much more, like the spider-guard, half-guard and even X-guard.

There are several different styles of DLR guard. For example, sitting up DLR, conventional DLR, deep DLR, DLR X-guard, inverted DLR and reverse DLR, ad infinitum. This post will focus on the sitting DLR, since it’s one of the most powerful and can lead to the other variations listed. The starting point for our DLR investigation will be how to enter the guard from a common position – the spider guard.


Spider Guard Entry to Sitting de la Riva Guard  and Sweep #1 – Single Leg


The first entry on which we will focus is from spider guard. It’s a useful entry when your opponent blocks your spider guard sweep attempts by putting one leg up or standing. Against their forward leg it is possible to thread your outside hook around your opponent’s leg – keeping pressure with your hook. This allows you to control their hips as you sit up with wrist/sleeve control. Sleeve control is of the utmost importance here, since it will provide you with greater control and leverage and also prevent your opponent from pushing you back down or attempting submissions.

Sweep #1 is the single leg sweep. Performed by trapping your opponent’s legs between yours and pressing forward with your shoulder like a single leg. Not all attempts will be this clean and easy though. The real benefit to this style of sweep is that you can stand to a powerful single leg takedown if your opponent attempts to skitter away. Andreh Anderson (Rey Diogo black belt) covers this sweep very well in his DLR series – showing an alternate version in case you lose the trapped hand. Trumpet Dan also covers entering the DLR guard and some sweep options that we won’t cover yet in this entry. If you don’t feel like you can push your opponent back enough to get this variation, there are several nice rolling sweeps from this position.


Andreh Anderson – de la Riva Sweep #2 – Backward Roll


Roberto Torralbas – de la Riva Sweep #3 – Forward Roll


Sweeps # 2 and #3 are both rolling variations. Depending on how your opponent is resisting, as well as your personal preference, you can either roll through your opponent’s legs from the front or back. I like the front option since you can grip the far knee, turning it into a high-velocity deep half guard sweep. It’s important to enter this variation with a decent amount of momentum so you don’t get stuck under your opponent.

This concept highlights the importance of the sitting DLR guard. By sitting up into your opponent you are able to pressure against them more than if you were laying on your back, and you can also create a great deal more momentum when you swing under for sweeps. Compare this idea to the butterfly guard – when you’re flat on your back it’s very difficult to sweep someone unless you’re Marcelo Garcia.

There is some variation between the various DLR sweeps as far as which arm to grip when attempting each of the sweeps. All of the sweeps covered so far work with either the near or far sleeve or wrist. However, the far sleeve, while more difficult to grab, breaks the balance of your opponent considerably. It can also set up different sweeps that the near arm cannot.


Andreh Anderson – de la Riva Sweep #4 – Push Sweep


When I am able to control the far sleeve this is the sweep I like the most. It’s not fancy (surprising for me, I know) – but it gets the job done and importantly, it leads to a great position to initiate a smash pass or take the back. It’s really important that the hand is gripped tight so that your opponent isn’t able to post it, potentially ruining a beautiful sweep. Be careful drilling this since it’s really easy for your partner to face plant or smash their shoulder.

Sweep #5 – the last sitting guard sweep is a bit fancier. Demonstrated in Portuguese by Rafael Mendes and then in English by Roberto Torralbas. It uses a hook in from of the leg, but otherwise starts similar to the previous sweep. It works particularly well when your opponent bases on the mat with his free hand when you are attempting Sweep #4.


Rafael Mendes – Sitting de la Riva Sweep #5 – Back Take


Roberto Torralbas – Sitting de la Riva Sweep #5 – Back Take


Use the shin to shin hook to extend your opponent’s leg, dropping their near hip to the mat instead of the far hip as done previously. Since the near leg is extended the opening to insert your hook and take the back is available. Make sure you grab the belt or lats of your opponent to control their hips and body and you scoot back to align their body to yours. Insert your far hook and gain upper body control for an awesome back attack from the sitting DLR guard.

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Filed under Jiu Jitsu Stuff

3 responses to “de la Riva Guard – Part I

  1. Awesome, I am really getting into DLR more and more, I love that you used a video that I filmed of my instructor Daniel Lima showing the transition from Spider Guard to De La Riva Guard.

    • Cool – good camera work! I like that he does that sweep with the hand behind the leg. I’ve always done it with the hand in front, but your instructor’s way makes a lot more sense

  2. Really nice stuff mate. Your post inspired me to focus my classes on DLR for a couple of weeks. Looking forward to Part II and hopefully Part III :-P

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