Leglocks From the Top of Reverse De La Riva Guard: A BJJ Tutorial

Updated on April 8, 2020
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Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Reverse De La Riva Guard


Reverse De La Riva Guard: An Opportunity

Reverse De La Riva Guard is one of the most irritating types of guards to pass, but it also opens up a plethora of basic and more advanced leg attacks. Some of these leg attacks are going to be legal in the gi, some are going to be legal in novice no-gi divisions, and some are going to be reserved for advanced no-gi divisions only, entirely contingent upon the tournament. As with all leglock attacks, these should always be practiced only under the supervision of a qualified instructor.

You may want to start with the companion tutorial, How to Pass the Reverse De La Riva Guard. This leglock tutorial uses the three basic methods of passing in combination with lethal leg lock attacks, and if you understand those first, this one will be considerably easier to grasp almost immediately.

X-Pass to Inverted Heel Hook

Bread and Butter: The X-Pass to Inverted Heel Hook

Over the last half-decade or so, this has fast become one of my favorite leglock setups. This move starts with unhooking the reverse De La Riva hook—one of the more challenging aspects of the whole process, and one of the more dangerous and frustrating things an advanced grappler can have to deal with, both in gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu.

Start by pushing inward on your partner's knee (again, just as thoroughly covered in the companion tutorial on passing RDLR guard). As you push inward, your knee will need to exert outward pressure on your partner's shin, forcing the hook to pop free. Once it's free, instead of passing completely to side control or knee on stomach, drive your right leg underneath their exposed leg, almost as though you are going for a leg drag pass. Instead of a leg drag, however, hold on to their knee as though you are holding on to the edge of a cliff, and sit down. This will give you a perfect opportunity to set up the over/under heel hook position.

It's entirely possible that, from here, your opponent may well decide to attempt to roll out of the heel hook. Never fear, a quick follow up to a tight kneebar is right around the corner. If you'd like more details on this series, check out our tutorial on leglocks from the knee cut pass. For more information on the general concept of the submission, check out How to Do an Inverted Heel Hook.

Straight Footlock

Straight Ankle Lock From Forced Half Guard

This technique takes advantage of the opportunity a looser reverse De La Riva guard (RDLR) offers to force the half guard. Start by trying to free the hook with the "X-pass" variation shown above. If this fails, it's often because you're unable to create the proper pressure outward with your knee on their shin. One reason this can happen is if their RDLR hook is too deep. However, this is the perfect time to push their knee through; instead, going the opposite direction the hook prevents you from going. Very sneaky.

From the half guard, you can, of course, pass as normal, but you also have the initiative that comes from a brand new position that you see just a split second before your opponent does. Use this opportunity to step over to their opposite hip, and then cross over your other foot, reinforcing the foot that's on their hip. From here, you can slide right into the straight ankle lock, using the preferred figure four grip for the finish.


Inverted Heel Hook 2

Inverted Heel Hook: Part 2

Another common thing the RDLR guard specialist can do that will mess up your X-pass (and inverted heel hook setup) is to cross their feet, connecting their back foot with their front foot. This can be irritating to deal with if you try to pretend their feet aren't crossed. Of course, making their foot essentially one unit opens up brand new opportunities.

Straighten your leg briskly, forcing not only their back foot, but also (to the point) their front foot (the RDLR hook foot) to move backward, disconnecting the hook from your leg. This opens up an amazing opportunity for a knee cut pass. However, like the preceding technique, this also gives you a great head start on your partner. Let's use this to backstep into an inverted heel hook on the other side! Here's a quick look at how to defend the backstep.

Toe Hold!

Rolling Toe Hold

This last technique from the RDLR guard is one of my all-time favorites: the rolling toe hold. The reverse De La Riva guard is such a fantastically difficult guard to pass because it's such a tangle-fest. However, the other side of the coin is that it's difficult for the person on the bottom to unentangle themselves if and when the going gets ugly.

Let's make things ugly by attacking that RDLR hook with a rolling toe hold. Roll through as normal (here's a refresher on the rolling toe hold, and some other leglock goodies), and then be sure to use some fancy foot pummeling to make sure that you completely cut off your opponent's "buddy foot" (I point out this detail in the video toward the end).

Leglocks and Positions

Leglocks are now, and always have been, the great neutralizer in BJJ. Make sure that you learn the basics of jiu-jitsu first, but if someone is fundamentally dominant, you can level the playing field with some of these fantastic tricks. More to the point, all four of these attacks rely on good fundamental movements, which you can build upon to turn into passes, sweeps, and anything else you can put your mind to.

If you've enjoyed this tutorial, you might also like how to pass the half guard with the Kimura, or perhaps some of our other leglock pages over at the
BJJ Tutorial Encyclopedia. If you've enjoyed this, please let me know, and feel free to tell me what you'd like to see next, too! Be safe and have fun.

Reverse De La Riva Guard: A Dangerous Position


What Is the Most Irritating Guard to Deal With?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Andrew Smith


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