There are few people that have the know-how to alter the landscape of their given field. Every so often, someone comes through and adds a brand new wrinkle to their skill and profession that alters the playing field and gives the next generation a new staple to add to their game.
While this doesn’t happen often, does it occur from time-to-time in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the culprit happens to be the iconic Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu.
Abreu—a native of Brazil—has a “been there, done that” type of story when it comes to the game of grappling, which many other grapplers have, but very few have changed the game in the manner that Cyborg has.
A true innovator, many years ago Roberto had his “eureka moment” that would go on to help mold him into one of the most feared men on the planet when it comes to grappling. So much so that is has made his calling card, something few Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players can say they have.
What exactly am I talking about? Abreu’s infamous Tornado guard.
Working With A Blank Canvas
“There’s no right-or-wrong with Jiu Jitsu,” Abreu flat out told me when we began discussing the topic of how he created his deadly Tornado guard. That statement alone is what makes this sport so beautiful; no matter how you execute it, it’s hard to say if you are doing something truly wrong or not.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu calls for many things, and being pliable and open to new outlets is one of them. Many years ago—around 1999—Abreu began honing his game and coming into his own.
He recalls fondly the early years of the Tornado guard, which came when he was a blue belt and the move became a focal point of his attack. Through rigoreous training and drilling, he quickly realized this setup wasn’t for everyone.
“Not everyone can use it,” Abreu tells me, “You must be flexible, explosive and creative.”
This is why the sport is so beautiful. Even for those who may not have those attributes, it’s still something that can come along once they train more, and before you know it, the Tornado guard is something that they rely heavily upon.
You truly are working with a blank canvas when you step onto the mat.
Redefining Your Grappling Game
Cyborg recalled the state of grappling when he began working on the Tornado guard. In 1999, the half guard was something not many people knew how to work from, and rather than scoff at it, this is where Roberto excelled.
“I really think this helped my evolution,” Abreu tells me. Rather than just accepting a certain position as a dead-end, he transformed it into making it one of his go-to spots.
Especially with his ADCC 2013 Absolute Victory, No matter how you slice it: Roberto Abreu has left his mark on BJJ.
Cyborg teaches his infamous Tornado Guard:
Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu is one of the most accomplished grapplers on the planet. He is an ADCC open weight Champion.
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