I am a better person today because I am immersed in Jiu-Jitsu culture. “Learn everything and keep pushing” is a much better outlook than “I pretty much know everything, so why so much effort”. BJJ is humbling, it has taught me mental toughness, it makes me strive to be healthy, my best friends are people I have met in this community…and all I have to do to achieve all this greatness in life is simply step on the mat.

Good morning. I hope you all have something positive to keep pushing toward. It’s a great feeling, right?

My Evolution of the De la Riva Guard

Great night of training. After warming up with Berimbolos, we started playing with 2 guard passes that work well when fighting a tough De la Riva guard. It was really awesome to work on passes that are effective against progressive sweeps from this position. I also got really excited when I realized that I would get to practice De la Riva all night long. As you will find out, I am nerd for this guard.

After class, I got to thinking about how I have evolved with the position. I do realize as a white belt learning De la Riva there is no place to go but up, however I couldn’t help feel excited realizing how much more I can add to my toolbox by continuing to drill from the De la Riva.

At first the guard seemed impossible. I couldn’t manage to keep the hook in, and because I was so concerned with trying to keep the hook, I wasn’t able to manage the space, or control their posture, and my opponent would dominate my other leg and simply pass.

Every.freaking.time.

Maybe I am a muscle memory jits player. Maybe I have to drill something 100s and 100s of times to just train my body to react without thinking. I hope that’s not totally the case though. I like the idea of playing chess. I guess to stay within the analogy, I just have a bunch of pawns to play with. Simple techniques to refine before I start using a rook. Maybe I am just a mistake-making, pawn pushing white belt.

Anyways back to dominating my opposite leg. So there I am, freaking out, trying to keep the De la Riva hook, and all I can think is this guy has a grip I can’t seem to break on my leg and my back is glued to the mat because his other grip is stiff arming me there…aaaaaaand he’s past. This happened so many times I don’t want to estimate this embarrassing number.

Okay. Deep breath. So then comes the beautiful moment in BJJ when something clicks in your mind, or at least it did in mine. At some point, I was able to get my hook in and it no longer felt like I had my foot in such an awkward position I was going to get a weirdo cramp from keeping it there. My hand automatically picks the ankle, through no thought process of my own. Thankfully, drilling helped with that and it’s one less thing to consciously think through in a moment of white belt on white belt chaos. I know that I have to get a grip, on his lapel or his sleeve, or his belt, and I also know that I can push on his leg or his hip to make space or get him off balance. Sometimes, like tonight, it turns into grip fight and I have to dominate the hand giving me the most problems. It’s all troubleshooting to find the thing giving me the most problem and fixing it before moving on. Regardless, I am able to get into the position and set the table for some pretty exciting opportunities to sweep and take the back.

Before, Each time I got smashed from a De la Riva attempt I would get so frustrated. I wanted to cry because it was so hard and never seemed to work, but it isn’t like I could quit and decide that I was never going to use this guard and assume that would never need to know how to beat it which added to my frustration. However, while all this is happening, and through this process of getting my guard constantly passed and hips smashed to the mat I was evolving. Looking back a few months ago blows my mind.

I have so much to learn in this sport. But luckily, I am learning. If I can learn Jiu-Jitsu, anyone can.

(That’s a fact, Jack!)

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