What is Vale Tudo? Its literal translation from Portuguese means "anything goes" or "everything allowed". To the average person it would look like a street fight between two crazed lunatics, but to the trained martial artist it would be combat in its purest form. The best fighters are the ones who can fight on the feet, in the clinch and on the ground. Fights in Vale Tudo, could take place in any of the these position and could last for hours. With the popularity of the UFC and MMA in general, Vale Tudo has been pushed to the side and been forgotten. This begs the question, where would the UFC be without the original hybrid sport?
The origin of Vale Tudo can be traced back to Brazil in the 1920's. Circuses and festivals would put on fights between two men in an open space with little or no rules. These fights could see different styles of combat pitted against each other, such as catch wrestling, Capoeria or Japanese jitsu jitsu. As these fights were gaining popularity, the Gracie Jiu Jitsu system was being developed. The Gracies had created there own style of fighting which had its root from Japanese Judo. The Gracies emphasized there training on the ground and used leverage and technique to submit there opponents. The Gracie family issued open Vale Tudo challenge matches to fighters of any discipline, such as Boxers, and Wrestlers. Over the next 40 or so years the Gracies found much success with there style of fighting as they lost few vale tudo matches.
In the 1940's a new style of fighting was introduced in Brazil by a man named Euclydes "Tatu" Hatem. He called his fighting style Luta Livre, which he developed the style from wrestling and Judo. Tutu fought George Gracie in a Vale Tudo match and was able to submit him with a kimura lock. With this victory a rivalry was born between Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and Luta Livre. Many vale tudo matches would take place between the two styles with both sides claiming the superior discipline.
In the 1970's, Rorion Gracie moved from his native Brazil to the United States in order to spread his families art. Rorion is the eldest son of the late Helio Gracie, who was one of the founding fathers of BJJ. In the 1990's Rorion was approached to help out with a Vale Tudo style tournament in the United States and he accepted. The promotion was called the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and would resemble the same style of fights that had been going on in Brazil for years. With only few rules, no eye gouging, no fish hooking, the first event took place in Denver, Colorado in 1993.
Fighters from 8 different disciplines were placed in a tournament bracket, with the winner being the man to win all three fights in one night. The Gracies had a representative in the tournament in Royce Gracie. Royce easily won the tournament as the other participants had little to no experience on fighting on the ground.
Today the UFC has a variety of rules in place for the safety of the athletes and has helped create a legitimate sport that has become popular worldwide.
From the dirt on the circus floors in Brazil to the big lights of Las Vegas, Vale Tudo has helped change the fighting game.
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