The De La Riva is one of the most effective GI techniques out there. In case you have never run into this before, it is an outside leg hook. You grab a heel and hook from the outside. It might feel weird at first, especially in comparison to the static nature of the closed guard. Where holding on and clenching might stop your opponent or partner from opening your closed guard doing so with the De La Riva will probably leave you open to a pass. As such, and all other open guards, it’s taught as an advanced technique. In my own personal opinion, determining whether or not something is advanced is just a matter of perspective. For example, if our first class was the De La Riva, the closed guard would be the most complicated thing in the world. Just the armbar from closed guard takes years to figure out.

Point is, the De La Riva is just one piece of the puzzle that is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you really want to, go ahead and try it out early on. Why not?

The De La Riva combines really well with many things, such as the omoplata, sit-up guard, lapel entanglements, single leg takedowns etc. However, to make sense of it we will just focus on the things you can do with the actual hook, not the sit-up stuff.

De La Riva Basics                               

The two grips that are not optional when it comes to the De La Riva are the heel grip you’ve got with your hand and the outside hook below the knee. Look at me calling the hook a grip. I even feel a bit like arguing that hooks are just grips you get with your legs, but that’s a different conversation.

Once you’ve established those two you still have a hand and a leg that are free. What you do with them and your hips is what will determine your success with this guard. You either work off the cross grip with your leg away from your opponent or the spider hook. We’ll call the collar sleeve a variation of the cross grip, and that’s if you decide to abandon the heel grip making your De La Riva hook insecure. Anything else will leave you open to the pass.

The three common passes you should expect are the leg drag, back-step and the knee slide.

Leg Drag

To take away your opponent’s ability to leg drag you, you need to keep your non-hooking leg away from him. You could also spider hook them or keep it dynamic and fight his free hand if you’ve got a cross grip. In addition, if you’ve got a double sleeve they won’t be able to leg drag. However, they’ll probably able to grab hold of your collar and either knee slide or back-step.

Knee Slide                       

For them to knee slide they’ll need a collar grip. Kill their ability to grab your collar either with a cross grip or attach a spider hook which will make the knee slide ineffective.


The back-step will happen if they secure and hug your head. To stop this, use the cross grip or the spider hook to stop them.

Final Thought

Work off the cross-grip or the spider hook. Try out the more dynamic variants later (belt grabs, double sleeve, collar sleeve). Those grips are where the De La Riva is strongest. If you’re wondering about where the information is coming from, we got it directly from Mr. Ricardo De La Riva. Cheers