Bloody Elbow Book Review: From Vale Tudo to MMA

Carlos and Helio Gracie sparring - Via FTWBrazilianjiujitsu.com

Written by Marcelo Alonso and Susumu Nagao, this book brings us back to the earliest days of MMA all the way through to the modern era, complete with some of the best photos you have ever seen!

The origins of MMA are an international affair, with several countries playing their parts in shaping what would ultimately turn into the modern sport that we all love and go rabid for. Brazil was a massive proponent in the forming of this hybrid sport, starting with two styles of fighting - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Vale Tudo.

These two rival forms of combat have had a well-documented feud that goes as far back as the early 1900's. However, there are few places for fans, both hardcore and casual, to get all the details on this battle as well as their overall history. Written by Marcelo Alonso and Susumu Nagao, "From Vale Tudo to MMA: 100 Years of Fighting" tells the story of Brazil's input in MMA from it's earliest roots to today's top stars.

This book is all about the gorgeous photos, and is shaped like an attractive coffee table book to augment that, measuring a foot wide and 10 inches high. Weighing in at just over 140 pages, nearly every one of those in this hardcover edition feature lush full-color photos, the majority taken at events by both Alonso and Susumu. Many fans will instantly recognize Susumu's iconic images, as he was one of the original photographers from the first UFC and Pride shows, and continues to shoot MMA and kickboxing shows around the world.

For those interested in history, "From Vale Tudo to MMA" begins at the turn of the 20th century, starting with Master Mitsuyo Maeda's travels that eventually brought him to Brazil to teach the Gracie family. From there, readers can learn all about the epic fights that took place with the heated rivalry between Vale Tudo and BJJ including Helio's famous fight with Masahiko Kimura, Carlson Gracie VS Waldemar Santana, and Rickson Gracie VS Zulu to name a few, supplemented by rare archival images of these fights.

Moving forward, we enter the first UFC where Royce Gracie showed the world what BJJ was, contrasted simultaneously with the IVC and other new Vale Tudo companies that were far more brutal than what was happening on US pay-per-view. Soon after, Pride FC and Shooto rise up, along with the Zuffa incarnation of the UFC, with photos of all of your favorite fighters today like Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, and even shots of non-Brazilian fighters that have made an impact like Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones.

As we reach towards modern times, the photos change appearance and quality, an incidental transformation that almost coincides with the maturation of the sport of MMA itself. The big appeal of this book to me was the photos, as I have been a fan of both men's work, and chances are so are you even if you do not recognize their names. Looking at a photo on the internet is not the same as having a physical print in your hands, and that is the reason I love this book so much. Few of us will be able to get prints or posters of Susumu's amazing once-in-a-lifetime photos, but this book gives you the chance to get many of them in one spot at a very good size. Photos were meant to be admired in a large format, not on a tiny screen at 72 pixels.

You can order "From Vale Tudo to MMA" exclusively in America from Budovideos.com for $40. At the time of this review, the book is unfortunately out of stock, but I suggest you keep checking the link to see when it will come back on sale, as the book is totally worth it on so many levels. Few books have this much information, but moreso have the fantastic photos to help tell the story. A picture is worth a thousand words, and "From Vale Tudo to MMA" offers you millions in the form of photos that you will never get to see like this again.

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