The Toreando guard pass (aka the Matador pass) is a very powerful way to pass the guard in gi jiu-jitsu and no gi submission grappling.
(You even see it used in MMA where it combines very well with powerful overhand punches. The fact that you’re controlling his feet or his shins makes it much harder for him to upkick you!)
But it can be a confusing pass to learn, in part because there are so many different ways of doing it. Here’s my video breaking down the 5 major variations of the Toreando guard pass along with a bit of the historical context of each variation.
Check out the video right here…
Now let’s go through each of these guard pass variations in a little more detail…
Variation 1, The Old School Toreando Pass
This is the first version of the Toreando guard pass I learned, and you really do look like a matador scooting past the horns of the bull when you do it.
Typically you’re going to control both of his ankles while standing far enough back so that he can’t grab your ankles. Then you’ll fake moving his legs one way, throw them the other, and use a zig-zag stepping pattern to pass the guard, typically ending up in the knee on belly position.
This version is still effective at lower levels in jiu-jitsu but at the elite levels it’s mostly been supplanted by variations 3, 4 and 5 shown further down this page.
This variation, along with a training drill and an MMA application, is covered from 0:14 to 1:22 in the video at the top of the page.
Variation 2, The Force Legs to Floor Toreando Pass
This is a variation requires the gi and is how many people in the older generation were first introduced to the Toreando.
When you do this version you’ll control both of his legs by gripping the pant legs beneath the knee, backing up and forcing his legs to the floor, then circling and pinning his belly with your shoulder. From here it’s just a question of adjusting your grips to get to the side control position.
The problem is that most canny opponents nowadays will refuse to open up the space between their knees and their elbows, usually sitting up to butterfly guard to do so.
This variation and the problems with it are covered from 1:22 to 2:45 in the video at the top of the page.
Variation 3, The Push and Pull Toreando
In recent years the push and pull variation of the Toreando pass has become very popular. Leandro Lo was particularly relentless with this version and many people have tried to emulate him since.
The key here is using one of your arms to turn one of his legs into a lever with which you can rotate his body away from you. Then you use your other arm to push one of his knees down and create room to insert your body into that space.
You can do the push and pull Toreando with grips on his knees, shins, ankles or feet.
This variation is covered from 2:45 to 4:55 in the video at the top of the page.
Variation 4, The Steering Wheel to North South Toreando Pass
It’s very common for modern players to curl up into a small ball when you control both their legs. By bringing their knees almost up into their armpits they make it very difficult for you to invade the space between their knees and their elbows.
Fortunately the same thing that makes it difficult to pass their guards means that less of their body is on the ground. Now a large ‘steering wheel’ motion can spin them into the north south position.
At this point you still have to fight your way past their arm frames, but you do have gravity on your side.
This variation is covered from 4:55 to 6:40 in the video at the top of the page.
Variation 5, The Toreando with One Hand on Hip
This version is similar to version 3, the push and pull Toreando. The difference is that because you’re using your forearm on his inner thigh instead of your hand on his knee you can’t push his leg over quite as far. This means that you typically end up circling towards his head a bit more and then use your bodyweight to push his near leg down.
This variation is covered from 6:40 in the video at the top of the page.
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