Lucha libre (free fight in Spanish) is a term used in Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries referring to a form of professional wrestling involving varied techniques and moves, characterized by rapid sequences of holds and moves, and masks. Lucha libre performers are known as "luchadores", or "luchadoras" if they are female.
Luchadores are traditionally agile and perform aerial maneuvers, executing high flying moves characteristic of lucha libre by utilizing the wrestling ring's ropes to catapult themselves towards their opponents, using intricate combinations in rapid-fire succession, and applying complex submission holds. Lucha libre also has several different weight classes, many catered to smaller agile fighters, who often make their debuts in their mid-teens. This system enables dynamic high-flying luchadores to develop years of experience by their mid-twenties.
Masks have been used dating back to the beginnings of lucha libre in the early part of the 20th century and have a historical significance to Mexico in general. In modern lucha libre, masks are colorfully designed to evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes, and other archetypes, whose identity the luchador takes on during a performance. Sometimes, a wrestler slated for retirement will be unmasked in his final bout or at the beginning of a final tour, signifying loss of identity as that character. Sometimes, losing the mask signifies the end of a gimmick with the wrestler moving on to a new gimmick and mask. The mask is considered "sacred" to a degree, so much so that fully removing an opponent's mask during a match is grounds for disqualification.