IS Vale Tudo: The Original “Mixed Martial Arts”?

DamianRoss

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By William Pehush of The Self Defense Company

Described by some as "human cock-fighting," Vale Tudo is Portuguese for anything goes, and in these competitions they mean it. So violent that it is only available over the Internet in the United States Vale Tudo might be unarmed combat, but it is as bloody as a sport can get while still being called a game. While even the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and PRIDE of the United States and Japan have submitted to at least some regulation despite their "no holds barred" attitude mixed martial arts fans in Brazil don't have to worry about their fighter being thrown out because they break the rules because there aren't any.

In the early part of the twentieth century circuses and carnivals would setup booths where audiences could watch either a boxer or wrestler workout or even challenge a volunteer to a match for a prize. Most times the amateur lost to the professional, but it was a great form of entertainment. In Brazil though the term wasn't used early on Vale Tudo came to mean a match where a fighter of one style would take on a fighter of another style. In the United States the sport was calledcatch wrestling, and operated in much the same way though less bloody. In Brazil those trained in Capoeira might find themselves fighting a boxer or wrestler in what amounted too an organized street fight. Everything would change though when Japanese prizefighter Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil to train and represent the Japanese government.

Mitsuyo Maeda was a highly skilled instructor at the relatively new martial art of Judo as well as Jujutsu. Maeda demonstrated his new style by challenging Brazilian martial artists to a Vale Tudo match. With local pride and prestige at stake many local fighters came out to meet him, but none had any success. Boxers, wrestlers, and other fighters tried, but Maeda kept throwing them to the ground and if they did take him to the ground he was able to win in grappling as well. Maeda was good natured about the whole thing, and was a true sportsman and impressed all those who fought him.

The Gracie family would take particular interest in what they saw, and they would ask to train with the martial arts instructor. Maeda agreed wanting to establish himself in Brazil agreed, and trained the boys in both Judo and Jujutsu. The Gracie family after completing their training began focusing on ground fighting which was there strength which was ground fighting.

When they started competing in Vale Tudo, they had the advantage because they could strike like a boxer, but also grapple effectively during the ground fighting. Carlos along with his oldest son Carlson and brother Hélio Gracie would found "Gracie Jiu-jitsu" based off of that they had learned, but they would continue to promote Vale Tudo style matches. After a trip to Thailand where they saw similar competitions the Gracies decided that it was time that Vale Tudo should come to TV, and soon after mixed martial arts and the UFC was born. WhileInternational Vale Tudo Championships (IVC) no longer promotes matches MMA matches are more popular then ever before.

If you’re thinking about getting involved in mixed martial arts or Vale Tudo you had better start training and not just in your style of martial arts. You need to know how to strike and grapple, and if you wear a gi like you do for karate or judo don't expect your competitor to do the same. You might even be giving them any advantage so learn any techniques you know with and without a gi. This might also be useful in self defense where clothing changes and you might not always find something you can get a grip on easily. Grapping shorts and t-shirts are your best bet for these types of competitions. You bring whatever you think will bring you an advantage, because the most important piece of Vale Tudo gear you have is your will to win.

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terryl965

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I would say cavemen they used anything to disable there opponet.
 

Tez3

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Vale Tudo is a type of contest not a martial art.
 

sgtmac_46

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I would say cavemen they used anything to disable there opponet.
Yes, though it doesn't become a 'martial art' until it becomes something we can trace as skills and techniques belonging to more than one person. For example, one guy may be a good fighter.....but he has techniques and skills he teaches to others that make them good fighters, it's a martial art.

Unfortunately we have no idea about some ancient arts as they are lost to time.....but my suspicion is that there's absolutely nothing new under the sun when it comes to martial arts......not for many thousands of years.
 

punisher73

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Vale Tudo is a type of contest not a martial art.

Agreed. Vale Tudo just means "anything goes" and was used to describe the events, much like "no holds barred" described the early events here in the US.

I would say though that the Greeks and their pankration bouts are probably one of the earliest recorded events that we would recognize as an NHB event. There are pictures of egyptians doing striking and wrestling, but I am not sure if they predate the greeks or not. I think ALL warrior societies had striking/grappling in their martial arts, the greeks were just the first to have big public contests that we have a lot of records for (of course, I am of greek descent so I may be biased).
 

Steve

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I don't know for sure, and I'm pulling this one from at least 2 decades back, but aren't there references to champions engaging in martial contests of many different kinds up to and including what we might call NHB in books as early as Gilgamesh?

Regardless, I'm with Punisher on this one. It just makes sense. I wouldn't be surprised if contests of martial skills of all kinds were common in all warrior cultures throughout history.
 

sgtmac_46

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I don't know for sure, and I'm pulling this one from at least 2 decades back, but aren't there references to champions engaging in martial contests of many different kinds up to and including what we might call NHB in books as early as Gilgamesh?

Regardless, I'm with Punisher on this one. It just makes sense. I wouldn't be surprised if contests of martial skills of all kinds were common in all warrior cultures throughout history.
I have little doubt that is the case.....people were kicking, punching, biting, grappling, etc.....long before they had a name for it other than fighting.

I would say, however, that the earliest recorded 'Sport' version of the same was Pankration, simply because we KNOW that it involved pretty much the same rules as the original UFC......even it came from somewhere, but it's origins are lost to history.
 

007tycoon

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Agreed. Vale Tudo just means "anything goes" and was used to describe the events, much like "no holds barred" described the early events here in the US.

I would say though that the Greeks and their pankration bouts are probably one of the earliest recorded events that we would recognize as an NHB event. There are pictures of egyptians doing striking and wrestling, but I am not sure if they predate the greeks or not. I think ALL warrior societies had striking/grappling in their martial arts, the greeks were just the first to have big public contests that we have a lot of records for (of course, I am of greek descent so I may be biased).
Egyptian civilization predates Greek civilization.
 
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