A pupil of Carlson Gracie, Ricardo de la Riva has shaped many champions as a teacher, among them former Pride and UFC champion Rodrigo Minotauro and his brother Rogerio Minotouro. At 51, de la Riva continues to teach and shape new talents at his Copacabana, Rio gym.
He talked to Graciemag to share some advice for beginners, say what it takes to get promoted to blue-belt, analyze competition rules, and teach a sweep starting from the guard named after himself. Read some parts of the interview below, and see the video for the whole thing.
Advice for newcomers:
“When the student starts training, it's very personal -- everyone has their own daily rhythm, their difficulties, works, studies, etc. At the first moment, when the person is getting started, training at least 3 times a week. It would be enough for them to have some knowledge -- come to the gym, do the technique, do a session, pay attention to what the teacher is saying. At a first moment when they're getting started, 3 times a week, one class a day, to me is enough until they take a liking to it.”
Becoming a blue-belt:
“For a student to be graduated a blue-belt here at the gym, first they have to have a lot of dedication; that's very important in fighting or in anything else in our lives; we have to dedicate ourselves. When they come to the gym, when they create that habit with that routine, that dedication they have. Them having certain things like respect that they end up getting a lot of through training -- respecting the mat, respecting the training friend, respecting their teacher.”
Current competition rules:
“In competitive BJJ, nowadays we have more athletes than in my time as a competitor. Today we have very well-defined, very clear rules. The confederation is doing an excellent job; the athlete is being helped and, of course, the refereeing. When I used to fight in my time, I didn't know whether I was winning, because the advantage did not exist. So we had to fight from the first till the last minute without knowing. Of course it's cool to fight giving it everything all the time, but having a defined, clear rule with scoring, advantages and combativeness -- that helps the athlete and the refereeing, in both ways to create fewer problems.”
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