I just got this email in my email box...
Training with The MASTER
For as long as I ’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I ’ve heard the name ‘Ricardo De La Riva ’. My primary BJJ training took place at a Gracie
Academy, and perhaps because of this, the name was mentioned quietly, almost reluctantly, like the admission of a secret, shameful sin. It was for this
reason that the name ‘De La Riva ’lodged itself so firmly in the recesses of my brain. I felt like something about this man was hidden from me; maybe not purposely, but there was definitely something left unspoken. I could feel
The Dieties of BJJ are jealous Gods. They despise sharing their dominion with less mortals. Despite this, throughout the history of the art, there
have been innovators outside the Gracie family who have changed the entire defining structure of how the game is played. A very select few of these
gifted men have had the holds or moves which they created named after them,
thus ensuring their place in the verbal history of BJJ, passed down from one generation to the next. The ‘Kimora ’shoulder lock and the ‘Ezekiel ’choke
are two examples of this. The ‘De La Riva Hook ’ is a third.
I don ’t remember when it was that I learned how to do this position. It was shown to me when I was still a white belt, but I could never fathom what was
so great about it; an open guard with one foot threaded around an opponent ’s thigh with the toes flexed back into the crease of his hip. Big deal!
Eventually I wound up leaving the Gracie Academy, and through a bizarre series of events dating back to the year 2000 when I competed in the blue
belt division of the Pan American games in Florida as a white belt (I had to borrow a belt in order to be allowed to compete) opened my own BJJ academy
with a Brazilian instructor who had received his own Black belt from a man named Marcello Monteiro. Other than knowing (from my own past experiences
with him) that Monteiro was a kind and honorable man, I truly knew very little about him. He had been a brown belt when I met him in Florida, and
the fact that he had received his own Black Belt from De La Riva, or even the fact that he was De La Riva ’s top student and had trained exclusively
with him six years, meant nothing to me.
That changed however, after some of the more militant elements in the Gracie clan started posting negative things about me, my Academy, and the head
instructor Sergio on the internet. Resenting the competition (as he also teaches in the Bay Area), one of them went to the message boards and
questioned the veracity of Sergio ’s Belt as well as the legitimacy of our school. Sergio responded with ‘Our Academy is proud to be a member of the De
La Riva BJJ Association, and my Black Belt has been sanctioned by him. Any disagreement you may have with the legitimacy of either my rank or my school, please take up with Ricardo de La Riva. ’ To my astonishment that actually seemed to work. Waddaya know...!
Unbeknownst to me, I had aligned myself with perfect tool for countering the arrogance of my former school. Ricardo De La Riva, 5 ’10 ”and 145 pounds.
The only man in history to ever defeat THREE Gracie ’s (including Royce, Royler, and Rolker) in a single tournament. Inventor of the ‘De La Riva Hook
’; a name given to a specific type of open guard game in order to differentiate it from the closed guard game, which (now get this) he ALSO
invented! That ’s right …according to multiple 'old school' sources Ricardo De La Riva is supposedly the inventor of THE GUARD GAME ('Ummm....okay, if
you say so! I'm certainly not the expert here!"). According to Monteiro, before De La Riva came along, opponents simply fought for the coveted top
position, working to gain submissions from there. You can ’t get a submission from a bottom position! Don ’t be ridiculous! Sweep, go on top,
and work the submission from there. That ’s just the way BJJ works …right?