Ricardo De la Riva is one of the most famous jiu-jitsu practitioners of all time. His name is spoken in academies across the globe due to the position that bears his name, the popular De la Riva guard. It is from this position that many fashionable techniques, such as the berimbolo, originate.
His well-known academy is situated in the heart of Copacabana and so is a popular choice for visitors to check out when they want to train jiu-jitsu in Rio de Janeiro.
A modest-sized yet thriving academy, De La Riva jiu-jitsu can be found inside the fitness gym Academia Equipe 1. Classes are always well-attended, usually busy though rarely crowded. De la Riva leads many of the classes himself, from warm-ups to teaching techniques and even pairing people up to roll.
Photos by BJJPix.com
Visitors are warmly received, and there are usually a few gringos in every session. De la Riva himself speaks passable English, as do many of the other regulars, some more fluent than others. Classes are taught solely in Portuguese, though a few of the black belts speak good English and will gladly translate technical details for non-Portuguese speakers.
The warm-ups are casual and consist mostly of static stretches, with some added abdominal conditioning.
On average, expect one technique to be shown per class. You will be given approximately 5 minutes to practice it with a partner. There is an emphasis on fundamental positions, though de la Riva will often show subtle technical details that highlight his knowledge and many years of experience.
The rolling is competitive yet technical, and rounds are usually around 7-8 minutes in duration. Sizes range from feather to heavyweights, with an even mix of coloured belts. Black belts will often make up half of those on the mat.
The De la Riva gym in Copacabana is an extremely obvious choice for anyone staying in the area. It’s well-known, has an open-door policy, and is operated by one of the nicest guys in the game. As such, you’ll meet fellow travellers from around the world who have chosen to train jiu-jitsu while in Rio. Some will be there for extended periods of time, some maybe for only a few days. It’s a bustling environment with an ever-changing cast of characters but always has a friendly atmosphere, something that comes direct from Master De la Riva himself.
Academy Fact File:
Main instructor: Ricardo De la Riva
Price: R$240/month (updated 2015)
Matspace: Approx 72sqm
Facilities: The jiu-jitsu academy is a separate, plain matted room set within a large, busy fitness gym with weights and a pool (available at extra cost).
Average number of back belts at training: Between 6-12 each session.
Average number of people per class: 20-25
Speak English?: Yes
Location: Central Copacabana, main street, easy to find.
Suggested transport: Bus stop within 100m, subway 2 blocks away.
MMA / no-gi: No.
Other martial arts: No
Years open: 20+
Titles / champions / championships: Multiple Brazilian and Rio state champions, team championships.
Notable students: De la Riva awarded both Minotauro and Minotoro Nogueira their black belts in BJJ.
Academia Equipe 1,
702 Avenida Nossa Senhora,
Right in the middle of central Copacabana, the club is on a main avenue and seconds away from major transport links including buses and subway. The gym is easy to find thanks to the huge ‘Equipe 1’ sign.
Classes Mon-Fri, 7am, 8am, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm (Mon,Wed,Fri only), 7pm, 8pm.
Class duration: 60 minutes.
Ricardo de la Riva BJJ Heroes profile