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Luta Livre is the Portuguese Language term for a brazilian form of Wrestling. In Brazil, it may also refer to Luta Livre Esportiva. A variation of Wrestling popular in the Mixed Martial Arts community.
The words Luta and Livre literally translate as Fight and Free. Yet a better definition of the term is Freestyle Fighting.
For the history of Wrestling, see Wrestling
With the introduction of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where Brazilian fighter Royce Gracie dominated the first few shows, many English language martial arts publications rushed to find and translate older Brazilian articles regarding the history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. It was common knowledge that the practice of no-rules freestyle fighting was common in Brazil, so when those translating the articles saw many references to competitions between Gracie-trained fighters and Luta Livre practitioners, it was mistakenly assumed that Luta Livre referred to a specific Brazilian freestyle system.
However, Brazil is home to a system of wrestling which incorporates both submissions and strikes which is most properly referred to as Luta Livre Esportiva and probably what most have in mind when making the aforementioned mistake in semantics. It is striking not only for the efficacy of many of its practitioners in real-world combat (they include mixed martial arts champions such as Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Ebenezer Fontes Braga, and Marco Ruas) but also for its similarity to catch wrestling and shoot wrestling, in spite of being developed almost wholly independently of either.
Luta Livre Esportiva was created in the mid 20th Century in Rio de Janeiro. The founders of Luta Livre Esportiva system was Euclydes Hatem (Tatu). He is considered one of the greatest Brazilian fighters of all time.
For the classic styles of Wrestling, see Wrestling
Luta Livre Esportiva – No Gi submission grappling. Similar to Catch Wrestling and Submission Wrestling yet developed independently in Brazil.
Luta Livre Vale Tudo – No Gi submission grappling plus strikes, kicks, knees, and elbows (no rules).