I think what made me first get a little more serious about jiu jitsu was watching Cobrinha compete around 2009. Not only was he really dominant during that time but also had a really active style with constant attacks from every angle. His style was significantly influenced with his background in capoeira allowing him find balance and attacks from difficult positions.
Good balance, athletisism or superior flexibility are traits that I don't share with Cobrinha but seeing him doing his thing also made me include a lot of spinning attacks, speed based passing and oma platas into my game. I've actually done so much of them that they are now my go-to techniques. Come to think about it, I actually could have progressed quicker if I had only focused on techniques that suited my limited abilities and heavier body a little better. On the other hand, you could argue that trying to perform these more challenging techniques have most helped me development at least some new athletic ability on the way. I also think I had more fun this way.
So, when I went to Southern California a few weeks ago, I knew I had to train at his academy. The academy is situated in West Hollywood but a bit off the busiest part of it. There is a lot of traffic in these parts of LA but I did not have to go to evening class, so it was ok.
The rumours about Cobrinha were true in the sense that he was very welcoming. We also did a lot of basic capoeira as a warm up, which was expected. The choreography was easy enough for a first-timer to follow but it really still pushed my endurance. I would think that even the more experienced practitioners got something out of it as the routine included things like spinning head stands.
The biggest technical revelation was that I realised that a lot of good guys at Cobrinha's (I've seen it elsewhere too) use "reverse grips" to pass the reverse de la Riva guard. The reverse grips allowing for a better chance to get a succesfull cross knee pass, smash pass or long step/hip break pass.
When I am talking about reverse grips, I better start by explaining what I mean by traditional or "non-reverse grips". Here is a picture of Rafael Lovato demonstrating. The grip on the side of the trapped leg is holding the collar and the other grip is holding the pants on the other side.
These traditional grips might not be optimal because it often too easy for the guarder to get his outside foot on the hip and get control of the distance. This can either happen by circling the foot in from the top in a manner similar to setting up the leg lasso or by simply putting it on the hip below the elbow if there is space. I think this is the main reason why many prefer to switch to reverse grips here.
The reverse grips help to control the pushing leg but also keep opponent from inverting easily according to the Mendes brothers. Below you can see what I mean by reverse grips.
Something that helps passing from this position is what I call the "knee pinch". It simply means that unlike in the foto, you can sometimes control the reverse de la Riva leg by standing with your feet together and pinching. This helps with all the passes from reverse grips but especially with the cross pass if you are able to pinch from above his knees. If this happens, he can not use the knee shield to prevent passes.
Towards the end of my fruitful trip I managed to catch a flu, probably an influenza according to the doctor I visited. As I was flying the same day, she game me a very strong medication. I guess people are used to that in the US. She even suggested I'd take a steroid shot which I respectfully declined