Capoeira: A Short Summary of History and Technique

By | November 19, 2017

The martial art of Capoeira was originally created over 400 years ago in Brazil by the African slaves. Unlike other martial arts, capoeira mixes music, dance, acrobatics, and mischievous play into an art form of beauty and finesse. Once recognized, Capoeira showed the world that it is an effective fighting art form. The style is more than a martial art, but also a social event that is rich in tradition and
history. A truly powerful martial art, capoeira resembles a collaboration of dance, fighting, and exotic movements – and even a game.

The first thing one notices when watching Capoeira is the music and weird instruments. Capoeira is played to the sound of a long bow like instrument called the beribau. This along with a tambourine and conga like drum comprise of the rhythm section of the capoeira ensemble. The lyrics, music and tempo all effect the way each capoeira game is played. A capoerista (or player) must know many different songs and rhythms in order to effectively play a good game of Capoeira. When watching the game played, spectators are normally in awe from the movements. The jogo consists of a circle, with the players in the middle and the musicians at the foot of the circle.

Capoeristas begin the game by kneeling at the foot of where the instruments are being played, and then entering the circle with a cartwheel, somersault or other acrobatic move. Once the game has started, the two capoeristas try and trick or confuse their opponent with a combination or feints, kicks and counter attacks. It can take many years to become a master of capoeira, since it requires an almost uncanny sense of space, a flexible body and a calm mind to be able to fully express oneself in a capoeira jogo.

From a defensive position, Capoeira is flashy, imaginative, and also very useful, as the kicks seem to come out of nowhere and can be very hard to defend against. The attacker or opponent has no clue what to expect from the student. The Capoeira student defends himself through the use of dancing movements and acrobatic techniques, executing a fluidity that up until Capoeira were only dreamt of.

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