When I was 19, I taught myself to speak another language fluently. I remember getting the dictionary and thinking, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to remember all of these words.” But I got a stack of flash cards, and got to work. One of the tricks I learned early on – and one that they teach in any language course – is to compartmentalize information. For example: you wouldn’t learn all the vocabulary words having to do with the entire home at one time e.g., bathroom, computer, necktie, etc. That would be very difficult to remember them that way. Instead, you would compartmentalize your list of words to something like clothing: pants, shirt, shoes, etc. Once you have that list memorized, you can then move on to kitchen items or something else. Compartmentalizing information and breaking it down to the simplest steps is a highly effective way of learning anything – including BJJ.


Recently I was watching a video on the De La Riva guard and I noticed that the grips being presented in the video were different than what I was normally used to. Like most people, when someone says, “De La Riva Guard”, I have an image in my mind of what that means. But what does it mean? Using our Drub filter, I started looking around at the different grip options that accompanied the DLR; and I hate to admit, our filter was a mess (it still is, but we’re working on it).


The problem isn’t that we haven’t been tagging the grips – because we have. The real problem is that we were lacking a uniformed system for labeling the grips. Because of this, there were between one and ten different ways of saying that you have a partner’s sleeve. Think about it: are you gripping the sleeve or are you controlling the sleeve? And which sleeve is it? Their left sleeve with your right hand, or their right sleeve with your left hand? Or maybe right on right? And then you have grip types: pistol grip, spider grip, etc. And don’t get me started on the gi – or should I say, kimono. Where I would use “collar”, some people use “lapel”. Where I would use “lapel”, others use “gi skirt” – and it’s not like we’re speaking different languages.


“So, who cares?” you might say. “Why should it matter what someone calls it when they’re demonstrating it to you?” Well, that’s true – when they’re demonstrating it to you in person. But even if you did have a black belt on hand to answer all your questions, I doubt they would know every technique, from every possible grip scenario, from every possibly position. And why would we want to know this information? Well, it’s just like learning a language: the position is your house, and one particular grip scenario might be a room. We want to focus on one section at a time to improve our overall retention and technique.


Case Study: De La Riva Guard


To start, we looked at all of the current names being used with just the DLR guard, and decided on a set list based on their universal use, clarity, and simplicity.


The first thing to go, were the special names that people come up with. If we were cool like Eddie Bravo, maybe we’d just come up with our own names for each grip situation like: Ice Storm, Poseidon’s Grip, Blood of the Undead… but we’re not. Besides, as cool as special names are – and while they do serve a similar purpose – they’re confusing. For example: at what point does a Brabo grip become spider web control? But if you just use, lapel grip or cross lapel grip, then you’ve eliminate multiple names and even more confusion.


(I don’t want people to think that we’re downing micro-technique names – because we’re not. Using a name like, pistol grip, is a very useful thing, because it’s descriptive and memorable. The context that I’m referring to at this time, is the categorization of a large set of techniques, and the best way to do that.)


Next, we got rid of the need to explain which hand is doing what. By using, sleeve grip, we’re saying: you grab your opponents same side sleeve. Cross sleeve grip: you grab the sleeve on the opposite side – pretty simple right? The same thing goes for the collar, lapel, etc. How you grip the sleeve is a matter of preference, whether it’s pistol or spider or whatever.


We did a bunch of other stuff too – and again, we’re not quite finished as there are still some lingering names e.g., inner collar grip (that’s gone, or will be), but I really need to wrap this up and get back to work doing something that’s actually going to put food on the table. Please stop in at the link above and play around with the filter options under SETUP. I think you’d be surprised how many combinations are available with just the DLR Guard.


Also, let us know your thoughts. We built Drub not to dictate to users what techniques should be called, but to provide a platform whereby we can all work together to move the sport forward.


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