The BJJ – Luta-Livre Connection

Hello my friends!

I am posting this little message and statement, to make clear my personal point of view on BRAZILIAN Grappling Fighting arts.

It is MY point of view, and I hope not to offend any of my Mestre’s, teachers, colleges, students, and friends.

Since the early days of my Jiu-Jitsu carrier first in Santa Monica (Los Angeles), few months later in Rio de Janeiro and few years later in Sao Paulo, in the mid-80s, while meeting and training in different Dojos and Academia’s, I realized the fact that there was a “type” of rivalry between the two, Jiu-Jitsu and Luta-Livre (Submission) in Rio de Janeiro, better said between some Teams.

At that time with my brother Demetrio, I was strongly involved in Muay Thai under one of the greatest experts in the world, Ajarn Surachai (Chai) Sirisute – the men who brought a scientific and metrology way of teaching Muay Thai, not in a brute way, but with respect and love to this powerful fighting art.

I had also a considerable understanding and knowledge in Wing Chun (Ving Tsun) Kung-Fu, since I started to train in 1979/80, and had many incredibly good teachers in this Close-Quarter fighting art.

At that time, I had a bit of Kodokan Judo and Swiss Jiu-Jitsu, and some JKD-Grappling, but Grappling/Wrestling was not really a big topic for me, until the day I meet the Gracies (master Rickson, master Royce and master Rorion) in California.

Because I was coming from Switzerland and my interest in Jiu-Jitsu, I taught several hundreds of hours in privates and took all the group lessons I could.

In Rio Luta-Livre (Submission) and Jiu-Jitsu Teams had that rivalry, however some others were cooperating and building strong and successful teams in Vale-Tudo, Luta-Livre and Jiu-Jitsu. All three where strong involved in Sports and many tournaments happen every month, that why you had so many competitors in tournaments all around Brazil.

I personally never had any problem of entering in one if the Luta-Livre gyms. I always told to the people, which was my background, and as a master-student of the great Mestre Pedro Hemetério (we called him Professor Pedro, even if he was a Red belt under GM Hélio Gracie) – EVERYONE on my learning way has always open me the doors and welcomed me with open arms.

Back home (in Switzerland) and working around the globe in the banking security sector, later as quality manager and head of many important IT projects and have been introduce to people working in special forces, SWAT teams, and military, I ask my brother Demetrio to help me and build a strong GRACIE-based SELF-DEFENSE program to offer to civilians and anyone interest in the more street-oriented-way of BRAZILIAN Jiu-Jitsu.

Under Professor Pedro in Sao Paulo, I ask him to help us to create that program. That is how we end up building that 54-Lesson’s course. As he told me, a similar program was already there in the past, but because Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was (more and more) taught in bigger open classes, the (privates) program had been left a bit behind. But not in his own “Academia de Jiu-Jitsu”.

While training we understood that the program was the foundation of our Jiu-Jitsu classes, but we also had competitors in our Academia doing successfully Gi, Nogi, and MMA tournaments, so the necessity of keeping our mind open and to keep up our training also in Luta-Livre (Submission) and Muay Thai (Thaiboxing), and any other similar discipline was obvious.

This is also the reason why I/we have the 54-Lesson’s program as foundation of our Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Network Europe, (today) under the personal supervision of Grande Mestre Carley Gracie (9th degree Red belt), and son of great Grandmaster Carlos Gracie – the founder and patriarch of the Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu system.

Grandmaster Carley and I share also in fact, to have been taught by the late Grandmaster Pedro Hemetério, since “Professor Pedro” was the most important pupil of Grandmaster Carlos and Hélio Gracie and has taught Jiu-Jitsu to numerous family members, before living to Sao Paulo to establish his own Academia.

Please let me tell you, and I am enormously proud of my background, and that I own this also to my brother Demetrio, who always been with me and supported me in all he could, then and today.

My vision and the mission of the Vacirca Brothers – Carley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Network Europe, is to bring excellence in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Self-defense around the globe.

Beside that we encourage our members regardless of belt color and teaching level, to continue with us their education, but also to make research and training with others, but to keep oneself honest and to inform his/her members about the true content of his/her program.

I wish you a wonderful weekend and please…

–Franco Vacirca
Zürich, March 6, 2021

Published by Franco Vacirca

Martial arts and self-defense instructor since 1989, Consultant, Author, and Public Speaker. Founder of the very first Gracie/BJJ Academy in Europe (1995). I consider myself a Visionary Entrepreneur.