If you're a fan of martial arts, then you know that Brazil is responsible for some of the most influential styles in the world. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Luta Livre are two of the most popular martial arts in Brazil, and both have a passionate following. So, which one is better? In this article, we will compare Luta Livre vs BJJ and revisit historic battles between the two martial arts and see who comes out on top!
Brazilian jiu-jitsu vs Luta Livre
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most popular styles of martial arts in the world. The sport has grown to be a global phenomenon and is practiced by over five million people worldwide, with numbers growing year on year. However, it wasn’t always this way as Brazilian jiu-jitsu had an early rival in Luta Livre.
Luta Livre Esportiva vs BJJ
Technically there are two forms of Luta Livre, one being Luta livre Esportiva (submission wrestling) and the other being luta livre vale tudo (MMA style with striking). Luta livre and BJJ practitioners can often be confused. This is because of their close rivalry and similar styles. This article should help shed some light on the widely unknown stories that differentiate these two.
Luta Livre is a Brazilian martial art that was created in the 1920s as a response to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Luta Livre was designed to be a no-holds barred system that could defeat Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The two styles went head to head in many challenge matches with Luta Livre fighters winning the majority of bouts.
However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu began to evolve in popularity and it's difficult to deny that it is an effective martial art against even the most skilled fighters from a range of backgrounds including popular combat sports and other martial arts such as judo, wrestling and Muay Thai.
Today, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most popular martial art in the world, while Luta Livre remains a minority sport. However, the rivalry between these two styles is what helped allow Brazilian jiu-jitsu to flourish while the effectiveness of luta livre influence can still be seen in no gi BJJ competitions.
Luta Livre and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu History
The Luta Livre, which translates to "Free Fight", is one of the most important martial arts in Brazil. The Luta Livre emerged from catch wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling. It also has a very strong Brazilian Jiu Jitsu influence due to the fact that both sports were practiced in Rio de Janeiro at around the same time.
The Luta Livre is known for its aggressive and powerful takedown submission fighting, while Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known for its ground fighting techniques that helps smaller practitioners utilize leverage to their advantage. As a result, the two sports have had a long history of rivalry.
However, in recent years there has been a growing trend of cross-training between the two sports, which has given birth to many new styles and techniques.
When it comes down to Brazilian jiu-jitsu vs Luta Livre, there are some distinct differences between the two disciplines. First off, one of the biggest differences is how each discipline teaches takedowns and submissions. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu takes a very methodical approach that focuses on taking the opponent to the ground and then submitting them from a dominant position.
Luta Livre, on the other hand, is much more aggressive and focuses on taking the fight to the opponent with powerful takedowns and submissions.
Another big difference between luta livre and BJJ is that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu typically utilizes Gi's, while Luta Livre typically utilizes No-Gi techniques.
The rivalry between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Luta Livre has existed since the early days of both sports in Brazil. However, it wasn't until the 90s when things started to heat up with a number of fights that took place in Rio de Janeiro between some of the top practitioners of each art.
In recent years, there has been a growing trend of cross-training between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Luta Livre, which has led to many new techniques and styles being developed. As a result, the two sports are starting to become more closely intertwined. However, at the end of the day, they are still two distinct and separate disciplines.
If you're interested in learning more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Luta Livre, be sure to check out some of the other articles on this website. We have a number of great resources that will help you learn more about both sports and decide which one is right for you!
Luta Livre: The Unique Brazilian Martial Art (Hidden Treasure) ~ Learn More about the secretive fighting style.
Luta Livre Fighters Vs BJJ Practitioners (Untold Martial Arts Rivalry)
The modern BJJ world is exciting with rivalries ranging from heated matches that never took place (Gordon Ryan and Andre Galvao) to friendly competition between competitors consistently meeting on the mats (Joao Miyao vs Mikey Musumeci).
Much like the stars that train out of popular jiu jitsu camps like the blue basement of Renzo Gracie Academy, luta livre schools had their own featured fighters that showcased the effectiveness of their martial arts style. These underground submission fights can often be buried under history but here at Submission Shark, we are going to revisit the stories and rivalries that defined grappling martial arts as we know it as today.
George Gracie Vs. Euclydes Hatem (1942)
We start the rivalry with the founder of Luta Livre, Euclydes 'Armadillo' Hatem. From a background of catch wrestling, Euclydes Hatem created his own unique style and had the opportunity to test the effectiveness of his art against a Gracie fighter.
George Gracie may not be known as the most popular or famous fighters out of the Gracie family, but his will cannot be denied as he bravely challenged the 'Armadillo'. That challenge may have been a mistake on his part as Euclydes won by rear naked choke in the second round, cementing luta livre as a combat sport to take seriously.
Helio Gracie Vs. Luta Livre's founder (Euclydes Hatem)
Euclydes would continue to have exciting matches but one of the famous fights that never happened would have been between him and Helio Gracie. The dispute was due to Helio wanting Hatem to wear a gi for their competition. Hatem refused as it would have been a Gracie jiu jitsu competition with those conditions and not a free fighting match.
The two grappling styles continue to clash
After Hatem's fighting career ended, the battles between the two styles continued on. This time with one of the most famous Gracie fighters, Rickson Gracie.
Rickson Gracie Vs. Marco Ruas (1988)
There have been plenty of 'what if' fights that didn't end up happening and the battle between these two martial arts superstars should make the list. Rumors of a potential match between these two practitioners of rivaling styles began to surface as promotors tried to create an event out of this super fight.
Helio Gracie demanded a higher payout for his son (Rickson) or the fight would have to take place inside the Gracie Academy. An official match-up with promoters and a live audience never materialized and this is where two sides of the story begin.
Real Luta livre practitioners only...
Rickson went to challenge Marco Ruas at his academy and the Gracie side of the story describes the encounter as an acceptance of a match with the condition of four months to train. This was an issue as Rickson was scheduled to go to America before that date.
Ruas' story explains the encounter as the Gracie fighters only wanting to fight real luta livre guys and Marco didn't count as he was known to cross-train.
Whatever the true reason of why this fight never took place is unknown and shouldn't take anything away from either of their legacies as they went on to become champions in world-class organizations such as PRIDE, UFC, and Vale Tudo.
The luta livre vs BJJ feud continues, this time a fight involving Rickson does happen and not where you might expect...
Battle at Pepe Beach (Hugo Duarte vs Rickson Gracie)
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu vs Luta Livre rivalry is one that has been around for a long time. The two styles of fighting are similar to each other, and the matches between practitioners of these two styles have always been closely contested. This battle at Pepe beach in Brazil with Hugo Duarte would go on to make up for the hype of Rickson vs. Marco Ruas that didn't happen.
The most famous battles between a BJJ fighter and a Luta Livre practitioner that you need to know about.
This legendary match-up is known as the Battle at Pepe Beach and it involved Rickson Gracie, a well-known BJJ practitioner and Hugo Duarte, who was representing Luta Livre. Here's a video with Jean Jacques Machado and Joe Rogan discussing the events of that fight and how this was a pivotal moment in establishing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Hugo Duarte may not be as popular of a name as the Gracie jiu jitsu supporters such as Carlson Gracie, Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie but there's no doubt that the Luta Livre style didn't help superstars like Murilo Bustamante (Former UFC Champion) develop a style to become successful at mixed martial arts.
Luta Livre vs BJJ in Vale Tudo (Two Grappling Arts Collide)
As the popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu grew in Brazil, Luta Livre fighters wanted to prove their worth. More specifically, they wanted to show that their style was superior and dominate a sport that had previously been dominated by Luta Livre’s rival combat sport – Jiu Jitsu.
In order for them to achieve this goal, Luta Livre fighters needed to compete with BJJ practitioners in an environment that was fair game for all participants. One of the ways they did this was by competing in vale tudo matches and inviting BJJ practitioners to participate. Vale Tudo is a Portuguese phrase which translates as “anything goes” or “no holds barred.”
The name is fitting for the matches as there were few rules and almost anything was allowed to happen in the ring – including striking, submissions, and throws.
As Luta Livre fighters became more experienced, they began to win more matches against BJJ practitioners. This led to a shift in the dominance of Brazilian jiu-jitsu vs Luta Livre as the two grappling arts battled for supremacy.
Today, both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Luta Livre are considered to be some of the most effective martial arts in the world. Which grappling art do you think is superior? Let us know in the comments below!
Will Luta Livre Fighters Become Popular Again?
Luta Livre is a martial art that was once popular in the early 1990s. However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu soon overshadowed Luta Livre and it lost its appeal. But could Luta Livre make a comeback?
There are some big differences between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Luta Livre. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a ground fighting art that focuses on submissions, while Luta Livre is a grappling art that includes aggressive takedowns and leg locks.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters wear gis, but Luta Livre fighters don’t. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the more popular martial art in Brazil because of its effect on the UFC, but there are successful luta livre fighters that have had phenomenal careers as professional fighters.
As Jean Jacques Machado (BJJ black belt) explained, "Back then they were doing a lot of foot locks already." This could be a hint that luta livre has made a resurgence under different names as no-gi practitioners and even athletes in the gi are utilizing foot locks.
A surge in popularity for the Brazilian freestyle fighting (Luta Livre) may not ever happen, but it's hard to deny luta livre practitioners of their contributions to the history of grappling.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Everyone
As BJJ grew to become the most popular martial art in Brazil, it began to capture the attention at the world level by competing in international MMA competitions such as the UFC. Royce Gracie's win at UFC 1 brought Brazilian jiu-jitsu popularity to the next level and as he progressed through the tournament, it seemed like he was defeating everyone from all backgrounds.
BJJ Practitioners Vs Each Other
Although the rivalry between the two styles of grappling martial arts has declined over the past decades, feuds between individual BJJ athletes and jiu-jitsu camps are starting to grow, creating entertaining events and storylines that continue to capture the public's attention.
These rivalries are helping BJJ continue its growth from more than just a fringe fight style to a popular self defense and personal development tool. It's common to see BJJ academies in the suburbs, inner cities, rural areas etc. and not just the beaches or schools in Brazil.
BJJ teaches practical tools for community building, can bully-proof your child and provide meaningful training for anyone seeking self-defense or for professional fighters becoming the best they can be.
No Gi Grappling vs BJJ in the Gi
Similar to the arguments between Helio and Hatem (founder of Luta Livre), modern no gi grapplers and traditional BJJ gi practitioners, some will find reasons why one is better than the other. Sometimes refusing to train in a gi and vice versa.
It becomes difficult to compare apples to oranges, and even more so when you mix in the different rulesets that both arts have. They are both great styles of grappling to practice and have their own unique benefits and disadvantages.
The martial arts world can agree on this...
Gi or No-Gi? How about both! Grappling or striking? Can't we mix it up?
Modern martial artists, especially MMA fighters, understands the benefits of learning multiple fighting styles. MMA is a hybrid between many styles, and many MMA athletes have combined Luta Livre and other styles as well as BJJ with their striking and takedowns.
Even hobbyists that aren't looking to pursue a professional MMA career are starting to mix and match to their desires without bias. Some people that prefer training in the gi also have a BJJ rash guard under it so they can take their BJJ gi top off easily to help no-gi athletes and MMA fighters train for their specific art form.
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