Rivalry At Your Gym? Here’s Why You Should Nurture It

One of the most important things that keeps us training month in and out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the friendly rivalries that we have with our favorite training partners.

Jiu-jitsu tends to attract competitive personality types (whether you want to enter a tournament or not). We are challenged by and thrive alongside the training partners that we work with each class.

Most of the people in the academy will have a few moves that everyone knows are dangerous. That guy with the impassable guard and deadly triangle setups. The guy with big pressure passing and crushing top control.

This naturally creates an arms race of sorts. Everyone else in the academy learns to respect their special attacks and positions and figure out a way to counter those attacks.

In my academy, we have an experienced blue belt who has a solid ashi garami and straight foot lock. For the first several months he was terrorizing the other blue belts with that match finisher! After we covered the defense to the straight foot lock in class, the number of taps rapidly dried up.

The foot lock assassin was distressed. His primary weapon was neutralized! He asked the head instructor what he could do to get that submission working again. “How do I counter the counter?” We talked about setups, encounters, and combinations. As a result, his level of understanding of his favorite attack went up further.

Now, the level of everyone in the BJJ school’s level in understanding foot locks and counters has also gone up.

Most of the BJJ addicts reading this article will have some techniques that they use from De la Riva Guard. Lesser known is the origin of the De la Riva guard at the original “Champion Factory” the Carlson Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro. Carlson Senior’s style of jiu-jitsu has been described as “warrior jiu-jitsu”. An emphasis on techniques for fighter vs. fighter and an honest acknowledgment that strength DOES matter in a jiu-jitsu fight! A glance at an old black and white photograph of the heyday of the Carlson Academy show monsters like Amaury Bitetti, Mario Sperry, Ricardo Liborio, Wallid Ismail and Carlos Barretto and many others. All physical specimens.

And then there was Ricardo De la Riva, a much smaller, lighter, built man trying to survive in the jungle of the Carlson Academy. This savage environment led De la Riva to develop and innovate his eponymous guard to deal with these bigger pressure passers.

Carlson Senior reportedly said “De la Riva Guard? Why don’t they call it the Carlson Guard? I’m the one who showed it to him!”

But Ricardo De la Riva’s contribution to the development and popularization of the DLR is undeniable and was in response to the conditions he faced in the Carlson Gracie Academy back in those early days.

Want to bet that his training partners also gained an understanding of the DLR to develop their own strategies and passes to deal with this new problem?

In this way we can see how healthy rivalries in the academy develop into a BJJ arms race of sorts but with BOTH sides ultimately benefiting by pushing each other to learn, innovate, and improve.

Do you have a healthy rivalry in your academy?


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