Luta Livre

Luta Livre is a complete martial art system which was designed in Rio de Janeiro. It is first and foremost a submission grappling style where competitors use joint locks and chokes to submit their opponent. The stand up component of Luta Livre, witch includes punching and kicking as well as elbow and knee strikes, was developed to complete the art.

Luta Livre is a broad term referring to Brazilian wrestling. Although the individual Portuguese words “luta” and “livre” mean “fight” and “free,” respectively, the term “Luta Livre” refers to wrestling. It is often assumed that Luta Livre is a Brazilian hybrid martial art, but that is not the case.

With the introduction of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where Brazilian fighter Royce Gracie dominated the field with apparent ease, 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 and 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.

Entertainment wrestling, where the outcome is predetermined, is largely unknown in Brazil hence there is no link between the Mexican style of lucha libre and luta livre.