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How to Take the Back From RDLR Guard: A BJJ Tutorial

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 Options

Reverse De La Riva guard is an awesome tool that's being utilized by the highest level of sport BJJ practitioners in both gi and no-gi competition. The focus of this lesson is for no-gi competition, where the grips rely on body positioning, and as a rule, you need to be much more precise with leg placement.

To become more familiar with the position, you might want to study this tutorial on how to pass RDLR guard. If you're already familiar with the position but are struggling to finish the back take or sweeps, you're definitely in the right place.

Starting Out

  1. Starting with your right RDLR hook behind your partner's right leg (which is forward), as a general rule, you always want to have your right hand grabbing or hooking their right foot, heel, ankle, or shin.
  2. Use your left foot across their hip to create some space, then switch your right hand to an underhook, shooting underneath their right shin with your arm, making sure the crook of your elbow connects with the front of their ankle. This will ensure that you are properly inverting and getting underneath your partner.
  3. As soon as you spin under to the back, reach across with your left arm to block their left foot, and then swim your right foot into a butterfly-like hook.
  4. Now follow suit with your right foot, ending with both hooks inside of the knees.

Now, if you were training in the gi, you might consider pulling your partner's belt and making sure your partner lands in your lap, executing a technical back take, but since it's no-gi, the idea is to drive them forward with your shins, and then to climb up on top and finish taking the back from there.

Finishing the Back Take, and Some Clarifying Details

Note that in this video, I'm hugging my own right shin with my right hand, helping to trap my partner's right foot. This is worth playing with, as it helps to keep your partner from ripping their leg free. As you're making the transition to the back, be safe with your left foot, so you don't get caught in a toe-hold.

Quick Tip on Entering Into the Inversion: Lift your hips up, get the "leg underhook", and then, as you drop your hips, use gravity to help start the inversion movement.

If your partner allows you to sit up and grab their waist, you may be able to pull them into your lap, as mentioned previously. However, in no-gi, it's far more likely that they'll be trying to keep their hips away from you. In this case, pushing them forward is the way to go.

  1. Keeping the grip on their ankles, drive your knees into the air and then forward, using your shins to collapse your partner's knees, buckling them forward.
  2. When coming up on top, keep the grip on one of the ankles as long as you can, and grab over their hip with your other hand as you come forward into a dominant top turtle position.
  3. Now just off balance your partner to the side and finish the back take!

The 50/50 Option

There comes a time when you simply aren't able to bring your partner forward, and you also aren't able to sit up and grab their hips (some people are just great at keeping their hips away while simultaneously keeping their balance). This is an ideal time to transition to 50/50. Once you're in 50/50, you can, of course, finish a nice heel hook, but you can also consider the option of passing 50/50 guard for BJJ (and taking the back).

  1. Kick your right leg straight through (imagine that you're giving your partner a kneebar) and then pivot to your right, trying to get perpendicular with your partner.
  2. Now just triangle your legs, and you'll be in 50/50 (although you may not want to triangle your legs, depending on if you're trying to set up a sweep or just set up a submission).
  3. Taking your partner down from here is generally relatively easy, since you're already starting with a leg underhook during the entry.

The Big Picture

While these options represent some of the more fun options, they're not necessarily where you're going to spend most of your time in RDLR guard (that's in the realm of basic guard maintenance). On the other hand, you really need to have some fun stuff to shoot for, and taking the back after inverting is pretty awesome. Try maintaining the position for a while if you're still struggling with the back take (just try to keep the person in your reverse De La Riva guard for a few minutes at first). As always, let me know how this stuff is working for you!