Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian community-orientated martial art done to live music and song, sometimes referred to as Brazilian dance fighting. What does 'Capoeira' mean?
There is some disagreement about where the word 'capoeira' originates from. Capoeira-connect.com
proposes origins stemming from 3 different languages that suggest it could either refer to the 'underbrush' where slaves originally practiced capoeira, a 'chicken cage' referring to slave captivity, or the 'sweeping ground movements' that make up Capoeira. Where does Capoeira come from?
A martial art developed by African slaves in Brazil at the beginning of the 16th century, this holistic mind-body-soul practice helped these slaves fight against oppression, strengthen themselves and their communities, and liberate them from their daily ailments.
Earliest histories of Capoeira explain it came from a region of northern Angola in the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as the Kingdom of Kongo at the time. Where is Capoeira practised and by who?
Although it originated as a Brazilian martial art and is still popular there, Capoeira is now practised all over the world. Starting around the 1970s, capoeira Mestres (masters) began leaving Brazil to share Capoeira in other countries. Capoeira is an inclusive community, meaning anyone is invited to come and train as a Capoeirista (a practitioner of Capoeira). What are the different schools of Capoeira?
There are often said to be 3 or 4 main schools of Capoeira:
What are the different elements of Capoeira?
- Capoeira Regional – this form began in the 20s, founded by Mestre Bimba and is the school we practice at CDOB. It was adapted to reintroduce and strengthen the martial art elements that are more practical to fighting which Bimba felt were neglected.
- Capoeira Angola – celebrated by Mestre Pastinha and his students, this form solidified in the 40s is the more 'traditional' Capoeira which has a greater emphasis on stealth. This is why much of Angola Capoeira is played close to the ground.
- Capoeira Contemporânea – this style emerged in the 70s as Capoeira was being popularised outside Brazil and attempts to combine the other styles. It includes more acrobatics and can incorporate other martial arts but is seen by some as less authentic.
- JUST Capoeira - Since a lot of these traditions and lineages first develop there has been a backlash of the older generation of Masters in Brazil, working towards rediscovering and reconnecting with ancient and primitive Capoeira philosophy. Before the idea of different schools of thought, instead, JUST Capoeira is Capoeira.
There are many different components that go to make up Capoeira:
- Instruments, like the pandeiro (tambourine), atabaque (drum), berimbau (percussive string instrument), agogo (cow bells), and reco-reco (scraping tube, similar to the washboard)
- Songs sung in portuguese
- Music sticks (maculele)
- The basic step, the ginga, which includes footwork and keeping hands high for blocking
- Feints (pretending you're about to perform a kick or attack)
- Other acrobatic movements
- The circle for performing together, the roda
- The yearly belt-giving ceremony, the batizado