Luta Livre
Country of originBrazil Brazil
CreatorEuclydes Hatem
Famous practitioners
ParenthoodGreco-Roman Wrestling, Catch Wrestling, Kosen Judo, Kodokan Judo
Descendant artsVale Tudo, Mixed Martial Arts
Olympic sportNo

Luta Livre (Portuguese: [ˈlutɐ ˈlivɾi], lit. freestyle fighting or wrestling[a]), known in Brazil as Luta Livre Brasileira (lit. Brazilian freestyle fighting) or Luta Livre Submission,[1] and also Brazilian Submission Wrestling, is a Brazilian martial arts and combat sport created by Euclydes Hatem[2][3][4][5] in Rio de Janeiro. Primarily a mixture of catch wrestling and kosen judo, there is also ground striking with the hands, feet, knees and elbows. Notable practitioners include Marco Ruas, Ebenezer Fontes Braga, Johil de Oliveira, Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Renato Sobral, Gesias Cavalcante, Pedro Rizzo, Darren Till and José Aldo.

There are two styles: esportiva ("sporting") and combate ("ground strikes"); both styles are no-gi. In esportiva competitions, grappling techniques are the only techniques allowed to subdue the opponent. Another style developed later is called "Luta Livre Vale Tudo", which is similar to the modern MMA style which allows both standing and ground strikes and submissions.[6] Consequently, it is important to calmly strategize and execute moves with the aim to force the opponent to submit via armlock, leglock, choke or necklock, or to win by points (i.e. takedowns, domination position).[2] Punches, kicks and other "hard" techniques are not allowed as this is considered more a sport than actual combat. Combate, on the other hand, includes striking techniques on the ground; palm strikes and kicks are allowed, but the ground fight and submissions are still the largest elements. This is also the form used in MMA-style fights.


In Brazil, the name "Luta Livre" (lit. freestyle fighting) can be used for multiple styles of wrestling. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling is known as Luta Livre Olímpica (lit. olympic freestyle fighting), while Professional wrestling is called Luta Livre Profissional or simply Luta Livre, sometimes also referred as Telecatch.[7] Catch-as-Catch-Can wrestling was introduced to Brazil in the early 20th century and received the name "Luta Livre Americana" (lit. American freestyle fighting) to differentiate from Greco-Roman wrestling (Portuguese: Luta Greco-Romana), as there was no forbidden holds or moves, thus "livre" ("free").[8] Later due the influence of Euclydes Hatem and other practitioners, Luta Livre started to diverge from Catch Wrestling (which was becoming predetermined professional wrestling) and becoming its own style of submission grappling, with its practitioners maintaining the moniker of "Luta Livre".[3]

To clear the confusion, in the modern day some Luta Livre schools have adopted the name of "Luta Livre Submission" while others use "Luta Livre Esportiva" in order to differentiate from other similarly named fighting styles.[9]


Luta Livre's founder is credited to be Euclydes "Tatu" Hatem, who was originally a catch wrestler. Euclydes Hatem went by the name of Tatu.[10] He began teaching catch wrestling techniques to others in Rio de Janeiro in 1927 while experimenting with some of his own innovative techniques.[11] Tatu brought on many challenges with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu and culminated with his victory over George Gracie in the Catch rules fight. The style emphasized fighting without a gi/uniform. He received popularity when he submitted George Gracie in 1940 and when one of his students, Euclides Pereira defeated Carlson Gracie in 1968.[12] The system focused on ground fighting and submissions due to their importance in Vale Tudo matches. The ground fighting included the use of leg locks, which at the time was ignored by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.[4] Some of the famous fighters that came out of Luta Livre included William Porfirio.[13] In the 1970s Luta Livre was strongly influenced by father and son duo Fausto and Carlos Brunocilla. The Brunocilla were Tatu's pupils and were in turn responsible for graduating many Luta Livre Masters. Also around the 1970s, the art of Luta Livre was influenced by Roberto Leitão, a practitioner of judo and wrestling.[14] Leitão also articulated the "Theory of Grappling", sometimes referred to as "Theory of Luta Livre".[12] Roberto Leitão was a university professor of Engineering[citation needed] who had devoted many years to Wrestling and Judo.

Luta Livre and Brazilian jiu-jitsu

A Luta Livre demonstration.

Luta Livre, in its early days, was largely considered to be an art "for poor kids who could not afford a gi."[15] due to appearances since they didn't fight with a gi. Luta Livre and BJJ were considered to be enemies. When Euclides Perreria beat Carlson Gracie in 1968,[16] the rivalry was continued for a few more decades. It was actually very popular amongst kids from the favelas, and in a way it represented a class divide and "warfare" between social classes.[17][18] By the 1980s, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu had become very popular in Brazil and Luta Livre representatives wanted to help popularize their art by accepting challenges from Brazilian jiu-jitsu champions in Vale Tudo and Submission matches. Luta Livre continued on with many famous fights in and out of the ring. This included a fight with Rickson Gracie on the beaches of Brazil.[19] This would hurt Luta Livre's reputation with Hugo Duarte losing to Rickson Gracie then getting knocked out by Tank Abbott at UFC 17 and Eugenio Tadeu losing to Wallid Ismael due to his inability to re-enter the ring in time. Tadeu did battle Royler Gracie to a draw in an indoor fight. Another fight between Renzo Gracie and Eugenio Tadeu kept the rivalry going. [1] His battle with Renzo Gracie in 1997 ended in a No Contest due to fans rioting. In 1991 Desafio hosted a Jiu-Jitsu vs Luta Livre card that had three representatives of Brazilian jiu-jitsu up against three representatives of Luta Livre, with BJJ winning all three fights.[18] One fighter Marco Ruas, who would later become a UFC champ, had a huge rivalry with Rickson Gracie.[20] A fight though never occurred between the two fighters.[20]

Decline in popularity and modern development

While the feud between BJJ and Luta Livre was ongoing, BJJ started to gain the upper hand by spreading their art across Brazil and the rest of the world, something which Luta Livre wasn't doing due a lack of central leadership or interest in doing so.[21] A branch of the Gracie family which established themselves in the United States did a Vale Tudo-style tournament in the form of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which saw the early events resulting in the victory of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and raising the awareness of the art across the globe. While Luta Livre kept its popularity limited to Rio de Janeiro and Manaus areas.[9] As many events similar to the UFC were created in Brazil, United States and Japan, Luta Livre practitioners responded by signing up for those Vale Tudo and MMA events nationally and abroad. Marco Ruas was one of the first, becoming the champion of UFC 7, however, he was billed representing "Ruas Vale Tudo", his own fighting style which Luta Livre only composed a part of.[5] Other Luta Livre fighters followed suit, such as Hugo Duarte, Pedro Otávio, Johil de Oliveira and Eugenio Tadeu, and they found mixed result in competitions. However, the main blow was that, as the nascent sport professionalized, most of the earlier most prestigious MMA academies (Brazilian Top Team, Chute Boxe Academy, Nova União, among others) used Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as their submission grappling style. Many Luta Livre fighters left their original camps and went instead to the Jiu-Jitsu camps hoping for success in a fighting career.[21] BJJ practitioners also stopped using the jiu-jitsu gi in MMA competitions (which later would be banned outright) and developed a style of BJJ without the gi, known as "No-Gi". Thus eliminating one of the main differentials between the two martial arts, and since many Luta Livre fighters were now practicing this new style, many of No-Gi's techniques and strategies were heavily influenced by Luta Livre.[21]

Currently, there has been a lot of work to preserve Luta Livre and work towards a resurgence of the style. In 2017 the Confederação Brasileira de Luta Livre Esportiva (Brazilian Confederation of Luta Livre Esportiva) was founded in order to better organize and promote the sport.[22] While it has also carved itself a niche in Europe, especially in Germany, where Luta Livre schools are common. Luta Livra was introduced in that country by Daniel D'Dane.[23]


The Brazilian Luta Livre Federation created a curriculum, and grading system, similar to the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ranking system and the Brazilian Judo ranking system, in order to develop uniform minimum standards, and better rank its practitioners. A black belt might take up to ten years of practice. Although it's a no-gi grappling style, practitioners can wear their belts if they want.[24]

According to the Brazilian Luta Livre Federation, Rankings are divided into three categories: beginners, intermediate and advanced. Advanced students are allowed to be instructors[24]

(1st to 9th dan)
(10th dan black belt)


  1. ^ Although Luta Livre literally means "free fighting" in Portuguese, it is also a Brazilian Portuguese term for "wrestling".


  1. ^ "Luta Livre Submission". Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  2. ^ a b "Andyconda Luta Livre - the art of grappling and MMA - Luta-Livre brazilian Grappling and MMA". Archived from the original on January 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "RFT Deutschland - The development of Luta Livre and Vale Tudo in Brazil. Part II". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b Tom. "History of Jiu Jitsu: Baptism By Fire and Luta Livre". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b Nate Wilcox (10 January 2009). "MMA History XVIII: The Losses of Luta Livre". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  6. ^ "BJJ vs Luta Livre". 16 February 2022.
  7. ^ "the-development-of-luta-livre-and-vale-tudo-in-brazil-part-i-1/ | Luta Livre, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Dortmund" (in German). Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  8. ^ Moskatelo, Dino (2019-09-14). "Luta Livre Vs BJJ – Same Roots, Different Directions". BJJ World. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  9. ^ a b Janeiro, Por Flávio DilascioRio de. "Luta livre? Rio 2016 erra nomenclatura do esporte e cria saia justa com a CBW". (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  10. ^ "Martial Arts History: The Takedown of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu". LiveAbout. 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  11. ^ "讛讗转专 讛专砖诪讬 砖诇 注诪讬转 讞讻讬诐 - The Founder - Tatu". Archived from the original on 2014-08-26.
  12. ^ a b "MMA History XVIII: The Losses of Luta Livre". Bloody Elbow. 10 January 2009.
  13. ^ "William". Sherdog. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  14. ^ "History Of Luta Livre & Reasons For Lack Of "Mainstream" Popularity". Bjj Eastern Europe. 4 July 2015.
  15. ^ T.P. Grant (11 March 2012). "MMA Origins: Brazilian Warfare". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  16. ^ "MMA Supershow Magazine Euclides Pereira - MMA Supershow Magazine". 2014-11-09. Archived from the original on 2014-11-09. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  17. ^ Gross, Josh (2011-02-04). "Brazil versus Brazil, MMA's most intense rivalry". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  18. ^ a b "Video: The Three Historic Challenge Matches From Desafio - Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Luta Livre". Bloody Elbow. 18 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Brazil versus Brazil, MMA's most intense rivalry". 4 February 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  20. ^ a b Nate Wilcox (7 August 2007). "The Ur-Brazilian MMA Feud: BJJ vs Luta Livre and the Style They Never Saw Coming". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  21. ^ a b c Winston, Dallas (2012-05-26). "Marcelo Brigadeiro On The Resurgence Of Luta Livre Fighters In MMA". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  22. ^ "CBLLE - Confederação Brasileira de Luta Livre Esportiva". Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  23. ^ "Luta Livre".
  24. ^ a b "Graduação Luta Livre | Brasília Luta Livre" (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2022-01-20.