What is the Tornado Guard?

Tornado guard

The tornado guard is a variation of the inverted guard that was created by multi time world champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. The original inverted guard was developed by Roberto “Roleta” Magalhaes.

In the original inverted guard, the guard player turns upside down and uses their legs to control their opponent. Setting up various sweeps and submissions, which includes numerous triangle choke set ups.

Later on, Cyborg Abreu would begin developing his own version of inverted guard from half guard that he called tornado guard. Abreu claims that he first started developing the tornado guard, when he was a blue belt.

Blending his use of the half guard along with his explosiveness and flexibility to set up powerful sweeps. The main difference between the two styles of inverted guard is that Roleta’s is a bit more fluid. 

It is also played more from an open guard style, where tornado guard is played more from half guard. But for those that like playing half guard, the tornado guard variation is a great option.

The techniques from this guard are fast, powerful, and hard to defend.

Tornado Guard
Tornado Guard

How Does the Tornado Guard Work?

The tornado guard works as a basic push and pull scenario. Pushing your opponent one way and pulling yourself under them to create your sweep opportunities.

Your top leg first works as a knee shield and then rotates over your opponent’s arm. As you make this turning motion, you also roll on your shoulder to invert under your opponent.

This twisting motion looks similar to a tornado, which is how Cyborg got the name for his guard. When you put these movements together, it becomes a powerful movement that is hard to stop. Which is why the tornado guard has gained popularity with half guard players. 

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Tornado Guard Setup

The basic tornado guard setup starts from a knee shield/Z guard style of half guard. Your knee is pressed on your opponent’s shoulder and you’re gripping their lapel.

While you’re gripping your opponent’s lapel, you’re going to take a pistol grip on your opponent’s pant leg. Specifically the leg that you’re controlling in half guard. This pistol grip is crucial for the sweep and you cannot forget it.

Once you’ve got your grips, you have to push your opponent back to get a reaction out of them. Doing this also gives you the space to invert and set up your sweep.

When your opponent comes back forward, you’re going to take off your knee shield. Pulling your leg out and putting it over your opponent’s arm.

Then at the same time, you move your leg to the front of their body, you’re going to begin to invert. Keep your grips and roll under your opponent.

To get your opponent more forward on top of you, use your lapel grip to pull them forward. Once you pull them forward, switch your hand to control their triceps to prevent them from basing out.

Now that you’re in position, kick your free leg out to create a pendulum to sweep your opponent with ease. You end up on top in a pseudo north-south position with different finishing options.

Finishes From Tornado Guard

As Cyborg showed in the video above, there are two common finishes for the tornado guard sweep. Those being either a kimura or transitioning to side-control.

If you’d like, you can also go to an arm bar, Americana, knee on belly, or a bow and arrow choke. You have a lot of different options off of this powerful sweep.

No-Gi Tornado Guard Sweep

You may think the tornado guard is Gi only due to the grips, but Cyborg also came up with a No-Gi version. Here is how you do the No-Gi version of the tornado guard.

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The position starts the same as the Gi variation from a knee shield/Z guard style half guard. Instead of a collar grip, you’re going to reach across your opponent’s body and grab their triceps.

For your leg control, you’re going to slide your arm under your bottom leg and hook your opponent’s leg. The back of your hand is going to be on the side of your opponent’s knee.

Once you have your controls, take off your knee shield, and turn your body to begin your spin. When you spin, your bottom leg slides between your opponent’s legs and you hug their thigh with your bottom hand.

Just like the Gi version of the guard, you also control your opponent’s triceps in the No-Gi version. From there, kick your leg to start the pendulum and take your opponent over for the sweep.

Tornado Guard Sweep Variation

There’s another good sweep from tornado guard when you don’t have a knee shield. Your opponent is giving heavy pressure on your chest and attempting a back step pass.

When they do this, you’re going to take a thumb-in grip on their collar. You’re also going to use the same pistol grip on the pant leg as the original sweep in this guard.

After setting your grips, your opponent will continue their pass attempt. As soon as they sit on their outside hip is when you go into your sweep.

They sit on their hip and you use your grips and momentum to invert and flip over. Landing in half guard on top and getting two points for the sweep.

Inverted Tornado Sweep

There’s another sweep variation from the guard called the inverted tornado sweep. For this sweep, the grips are different from traditional tornado guard.

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For this version, you cross grab your opponent’s sleeve and and take a same side collar grip with your other hand.

Next, take your knee shield and pummel it across your opponent’s body. You’re going to turn all the way to your knees and keep your sleeve grip.

The opponent will come up thinking that they can control your body and grab a body lock. When they do this, you’re going to trap their ankle with your foot and hold their arm to your body tight.

From there, you’re going to go into the inverted tornado sweep. Keep your grips and roll over your inside shoulder to take your opponent over.

Important Tips and Details For Using Tornado Guard

This is a powerful guard, but if you leave out any details, the guard won’t work. Here are some important tips to remember when using the tornado guard.

  • Start in Knee Shield: Tornado guard always starts from a knee shield/Z guard style half guard. This is because you need to create space in order to create the space to twist and invert.
  • Pistol Grip Leg: When holding Z guard, remember that you need to take a pistol grip on the leg you’re holding half guard on.
  • Leg Over Arm: Remember to lift your leg over your opponent’s arm after you push them back. This allows you to spin, invert, and create force for your sweeps.
  • Pull Opponent  Forward: Don’t forget to use your lapel grip to pull your opponent forward. This will pull them off base and allow you to get them up for the sweep.
  • Hold the Tricep: After you pull your opponent forward, remember to hold their triceps. This will prevent them from basing out to defend the sweep.
  • Kick Leg: Once you’re under your opponent, kick your leg like a pendulum to create more force to take them over.