The guards are the most characteristic part of BJJ and one of the most rapidly developing. The art went from having just closed and half-guard to dozens of clever defensive systems allowing for multiple offensive options. One of those modern guards is the reverse De La Riva guard.
The reverse De La Riva guard, or RDLR for short, is an open guard in which you hook your inside leg on the thigh of one of the opponent’s legs and control the same leg’s ankle. The position is a great defensive measure against knee-cut guard passes, but it’s also used to threaten with back takes or transitions into other guards.
The RDLR offers quite the versatility for those willing to put the time to perfect it, and even if you only need it to counter the knee cut, it’s a great tool to have and be able to rely upon.
The Reverse De La Riva guard is an open guard where you are on your back and controlling one of the opponent’s legs through a hook on their thigh with your inside leg (the leg between the opponent’s legs).
The same side hand as the hooking leg usually controls the opponent’s ankle. The non-hooking leg is either on the opponent’s hip or shoulder, depending on his position and height.
While in the regular De La Riva guard, you are controlling the opponent’s leg by having an outside hook with one foot and a hand grip on their ankle/heel, the reverse De La Riva, as the name suggests, is done by doing a De La Riva hook with your inside foot.
A DLR hook is when your ankle crosses behind the opponent’s knee, and your foot is hooked onto the outside of the thigh.
Depending on whether you are hooking with the outside or the inside leg, the guard is either regular DLR or reverse DLR. A key detail is to lie slightly on your side rather than flat on your back.
This will give you significantly better control over the opponent’s trapped leg.
The other important detail for the reverse De La Riva, besides the DLR hook, is to have your arm under the hooking leg for extra support and to prevent the opponent’s knee-cut passes.
The initial purpose of the reverse De La Riva was only to be a defensive answer to the most popular type of guard passing- knee cuts.
It was through this utility that Caio Terra developed the reverse De La Riva. While the hook is named after Ricardo De La Riva, who popularized the standard position, the reverse guard was not his doing.
A rudimentary form of the technique existed in old Kosen Judo. Still, Caio Terra developed and popularized the guard in the 2000s first as a way to deal with knee-cut passes and top-half guard pressure and then started adding attacks like sweeps and back takes.
As I said, the most common way to get into Reverse De La Riva is as a counter to a knee-cut attempt. After getting into the position, one of the defensive measures you can take is to go to a standard De La Riva, which usually offers more options. You can also put the opponent into half guard or transition into other guards.
But these are only defensive options. We want to turn the defensive move into an opportunity for attacks, and one of the key movements is a slick back take with an even cooler name- “The Kiss of the Dragon.”
The Kiss of the Dragon is also called a reverse berimbolo, but it’s a higher percentage move than the traditional berimbolo. To begin the Kiss of the Dragon you would need to underhook the opponent’s leg elbow deep to initiate a spin between their legs.
Then, release the DLR hook and invert between their legs, ending in the crab ride positions as it’s called in 10th Planet Jiu-jitsu. From there, transition the grip to the hips and quickly tuck the opponent in a comfortable back control.
Leg lock attacks are available from the Reverse De la Riva as well, and they are approached from the same inversion as the Kiss of the Dragon back take. Instead of looking to go all the way through and hunting for the back as you invert, focus on placing your opponent’s free leg in between your legs.
Depending on the opponent’s reaction and your intention, you can end up in the 50/50 or the honey hole leg entanglements. Then begins the leg-locking shootout.
There is also the option to transition into an Omoplata from RDLR instead of a standard De La Riva. For this transition, you will need tight grips on the collar and sleeve of the opponent, as shown by Lachlan Giles halfway through the video:
How To Pass Reverse De La Riva
The reverse De La Riva can be a tough nut to crack when you are on top, but as with any guard, there are ways around it.
One way to pass in the gi is by smashing the opponent’s leg with your body to the far side. While the DLR hook prevents you from applying enough pressure directly, you can use a pants grip on the hooking leg and a collar grip on the opposite side to move the opponent to his other hip and destroy their guard.
In no-gi, the options are less but are still present. The first problem you must solve is to clear the non-hooking leg from posting on your hip or shoulder and create distance. Then the road goes through trapping the DLR leg with your knees and going for a cross face. You can watch the full sequence here:
The reverse De La Riva is one of the many guards in jiu-jitsu and one you should have at least basic proficiency in. It is one of the best answers against knee-cut guard passes and presents one of the coolest back-take inversions named the Kiss of the Dragon.
If you want to delve deeper into the utility of the RDLR, you can look into Mickey Musumeci, who has created an entire system around it. The fact that the guard works equally well in gi and no gi further makes the time spent in mastering it time well spent.