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How to Take the Back From De La Riva Guard in BJJ

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Looking to "take the back."

Looking to "take the back."

"Day Lah Heevah"

De La Riva guard is a fantastically complex position when you first begin to work on it. As you move up through the ranks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and your skill set improves, DLR guard continues to provide new challenges. If you haven't already seen the fundamental DLR tutorial, you might want to check that out first.

There are a few key moves you can look for from De La Riva guard, and one such move is to "take the back." We'll look at one such variation you can start with right away.

Getting the Hook

Taking a look at the big picture here, the main idea is essentially for you to start facing your opponent, and then creep around 180 degrees to their back. This is the central challenge of the technique. Start with a cross-sleeve grip (with your right hand gripping their right sleeve). Use your left hand to grip their pants, offering you both an anchor and a way to keep your partner from simply stepping free. From here, there are two ways to the back.

Old-school techniques involve walking on your shoulders to get behind your partner, while you can also utilize momentum to shoot your foot through your partner's legs. Either way, you need to end up with a deep De La Riva hook.

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Getting to the Back

Once you've established the deep hook (your left foot hooks your partner's left hip by coming through from the back), it's time to finish the back take. Next, swim your right foot around behind your partner's right knee (think of it kind of like a butterfly hook). Now release the sleeve grip so that you can use your right hand to grip their belt or pants (you'll need to sit up in order to be able to reach this, unless you have extraordinarily long arms).

Making Them Sit

Once you have your grips on your partner's skirt (or belt, or pants), you are ready to make them sit down. Start by pulling downward with both hands, forcing your partner to sit on your shins. Next, kick your legs straight out (they should be coiled up, ready to discharge your partner forward). Keep the grip on the belt (or wherever you have it) while you're kicking, both to keep your partner very close during this transition, and to keep them from landing hard, straight onto their tailbone. Make sure you can establish a strong harness grip before trying to get both hooks in.

Climbing on Top

Sometimes when you get around to your partner's back, it's not possible to pull their gi and bring them into your lap as before. In this case, it's best to come up on top, getting both sweep and back points. Leaning to one side can help you start something akin to standing in base, where you use the belt grip to help you come forward. From here, it's just a matter of carefully getting your hooks in from the top.


De La Riva is a tough guard to "master" (if you can ever really master anything in jiu-jitsu!), and tougher than most guards to establish a basic minimum competency. Once you become a specialist, though, it's a very hard position to stop. You can often impose your will onto your partners, and the back takes shown here constitute a major portion of the viable attack options from DLR guard. As always, please let me know how these moves end up working for you!

© 2018 Andrew Smith

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