Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art, that’s history stems from both the Brazilian natives and the African’s that were brought over for slavery by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
The style uses lots of dance type moves and is often accompanied by music, many of the moves are fast, disguised and were developed to allow the natives, slaves and anyone else to protect themselves against the Portuguese colonials. It was also developed to allow you to defend yourself against multiple attackers.
In the 18th century Rio prohibited it’s use and it was an imprisonable offense to practise it. In the late 19th century it started to be used by body guards, hitmen, mercenaries and the like and was eventually prohibited throughout Brazil until the early 20th century.
In the 1930’s Mestre Bimba founded the first Capoeira school in Salvador, however he named it ‘Luta Regional Baiana’ (meaning regional fight from Bahia), as the word Capoeira was still outlawed in Brazil until 1940. The style they used was aimed more towards the ‘martial’ side of fighting as opposed to the ‘art’ side.
In 1941 Vicente Ferreira Pastinha founded Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola (CECA) and his school’s style was aimed at a more traditional style of Capoeira.
Some other organisations include, Associação Brasileira de Apoio e Desenvolvimento da Arte-Capoeira (ABADÁ-Capoeira), Grupo Capoeira Brasil, International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF), World Capoeira Federation (WCF).
Capoeira has now gained much popularity, with schools in many countries, but still retains a very strong Brazilian connection. There are numerous styles, some traditional, some more for practical applications and some mixed.
Practitioners of Capoeira are called ‘Capoeiristas’.
There are many moves and techniques in Capoeira, all with variations.
The practitioner is taught to keep moving and not be a standing target, with disguised moves/attacks and counter attacks. Attacks can be made using any body part, but the legs are a favourite weapon and are used mostly in a swirling/whip motion and for sweeps.
There aren’t a lot of blocking manoeuvres, as most of the defence is carried out by moving and avoiding your opponent.
Many moves require skills in rolling or acrobatics.
Many Capoeiristas practise their skills by playing a game, which is much like sparring, but effectively with no or minimal contact. Others use music and form a circle and the Capoeiristas will essentially demonstrate their skills taking turns in the circle.
Capoeira Equipment/Gear Used
Capoeira Pants (normally white, but not necessarily)
T-shirt (normally white, but not necessarily)
Coloured cord (similar to belt grading)
Capoeira Instruments and Music
Music is used to control the speed, style and aggression when using the game method of practise. The songs used normally have a story or meaning.
Berimbau – a single string percussion instrument, that keeps the tempo of the music.
Pandeiro – a type of hand framed drum.
Atabaque – a tall, wooden, Afro-Brazilian hand drum.
Agogô – a single or multiple bell.
Ganzá – a Brazilian rattle used as a percussion instrument.
Celebrity Capoeira Practitioners
Movies featuring Capoeira
|Cordão de Ouro
|Only the Strong
|The Protector (Warrior King)
|Undisputed 3: Redemption