The Gameplan: Fernando Terere

This is a part of a series of articles taking at in-depth look at the best competitors and their gameplan. This edition is on Fernando Terere.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero Cavalcanti > Alexandre Paiva > Fernando Augusto Terere

In this edition of The Gameplan we are breaking down the game of the legendary Fernando Augusto Terere, multiple time World Champion. In the golden days of BJJ (back when the Mundials were held in Rio) his game was simply outstanding.  It was just on another level compared to the opposition he faced at the time.  

Aggressive passes, explosive top control and smart guard play. He had it all. Nowadays he is not competing any more and is focused on his own gym in Rio and the “Terere Kids Project”  who’s goal is to help kids from local favelas through Jiu Jitsu.

Standing Game

Terere has a great stand up game to start with and it comes from his cross training in judo. His favorite throw is Uchi Mata Makikomi with a slightly different twist, which he simply calls the Safada takedown, named after his coach’s nickname. He even used this throw successfully against Roger Gracie in the 2008 absolute division. 

The keys to the throw are forcing the opponent to step forward first, then to combine a hand on opponents hip and sweeping the front leg to finish in a great attacking position after the take down is completed. 

Guard Passing Game

Terere is easily one of the best guard passers ever to compete in BJJ. His aggressive passing style combined with takedown heavy game was a major threat for all of his opponents. It was very hard to resist and to play any sort of guard game against him. There were even situations where he would pass an opponent’s guard while they attempted a guard pull (his first match against Marcelo Garcia in 2003).

Two of his most commonly used guard passes are the Leg Weave and X-pass with all of their variations, but Terere used a lot of explosive Torreandos as well. Terere placed a lot of importance on relatively unheard of passing concepts at the time he was competing, controlling the shrimping leg, flattening opponents hips and using rapid direction changes when guard passing.

Leg Weave Pass

As stated above, Terere knew that immobilising the movement of bottom shrimping leg is the key. When opponent was blocking him with knee shield, Terere would overhook the knee shield leg and grip the bottom one, which was the crucial key to set up a guard pass. After that, he would grip opponents collar with other hand to control his posture and from there he would do the knee slice pass over opponents bottom shin to finish the pass. This pass is called the Leg Weave.

X-Pass­- overstep

X-pass (not to be confused with X-guard) occurs when you are in a one in and one out passing position. This means that one of your legs is in between your opponent’s legs, and the other is on the outside. This type of guard pass is very effective against both De La Riva and Reverse De La Riva guard. Fernando used many variations of the X-pass, but the core of this pass for him was to control his opponent’s posture with one hand and to control his opponent’s inner leg knee with the other. He would add pressure on his opponent’s chest while pushing their knee back to straighten the leg while he oversteps with his wide leg to complete the pass.

Note: Fernando Terere’s guard passing ability was phenomenal and as such, his passes are much more complex and would require deeper study. Our goal is to point out the athletes overall game and style to our readers. If you are interested in diving deep into Terere’s guard passing game, check out the amazing breakdown that BJJ Scout did below.

Guard Game

Fernando Terere had a much simpler guard game but it was still very effective. He is know to use a lot of Butterfly guard and there is even sweep named after him from this position. The key with the Terere sweep is to pull the opponent onto you with grips on his arm and at the same time kick his legs back. This is being done to gain more control over the opponent’s torso and upper body.

After that comes gripping oponents belt on the back with one arm and gripping opponents hand with other. The final touch comes after we drop the opponent on the side of the arm we are controlling and sweep with the butterfly hook from the opposite side. Fernando would also use plenty of De La Riva and Spider Guard variations throughout his career.

Control and Submission Game

Create scrembles, take the back. That was the formula that Terere used after many of his guard passes. His main goal was always to get to the back and never held much preference for staying in the mount. That comes from him often fighting against the bigger opponents in the absolute division, where that control was crucial. If he did find himself in mount or even if he is holding side control, he will often look to set up Triangle attacks.

He is known to use Brabo chokes as well from various different top positions. When he is able to get to his preferred position of being on his opponent’s back he will utilize a whole host of different Bow and Arrow variations to finish the fight. Just like the rest of the game, his submission attempts were extremely simple and straight-forward, yet remarkably effective against the highest levels of opposition.