Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
I always love learning about different Martial Arts styles. Martial Arts doesn't have to be just Asian based. As I've shown with many of my articles, there can be many origins to different Martial Arts styles. Which is why when Sean Donnelly chatted to me on Facebook about Lutta corsa, I knew I just had to look it up and write an article about it.
Lutta corsa, also written in French as Lutte corse, means "Corsican free fighting". It is said to have been a fighting style practiced by the wandering shepherds on Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean between France and Italy. Being located such, the island had seen many occupations throughout history. Through these occupations, people came from different cultures to settle on the island. Today, Corsica is a territorial collective of France. But it still has many Italian influences on its culture.
Lutta corsa was practiced by in the interior areas of Corsica. It was a means for the shepherds to resolve conflicts amongst themselves and regain honor. The style, mostly found in the inland villages, did not often enter major cities. Thus, people in the cities and mainland will probably not have experienced or heard of Lutta corsa.
The fighting was not meant for violence, but rather a more friendly way of settling differences. Men would challenge one another and when a winner was declared the conflict would be resolved. It was also used as a challenge to prove strength and superiority. In some documentation, Lutta corsa is noted as being more of a "game" for the shepherds, something to do to pass the time during the slow seasons. A normal Corsican would have seen this as brutal and repulsed by these games.
The origins of this system is unclear but it is believed to have derived from the Greek Pankration, which makes sense given the geographic location. Lutta corsa is an unarmed form of fighting, with kicks, punches, throws, chokes and grappling.
There wasn't much information beyond this as to what distinguished Lutta corsa from other styles or why exactly it is a Martial Arts style and not just a fighting system. I was unable to find any teachers of this style alone. Most seem to couple it with several different styles of fighting, such as Greco-Roman wrestling, Zipota, or some other style of fighting. The videos I did find showed general fighting techniques.
Overall, though, it does appear to be a system that is very similarly based on Asian concepts of regaining one's honor (or face) through unarmed combat. Because the origins and approach are different from other styles in the region, it would probably provide fighters with a different approach to combat that would suit a street fighting style.