What is Capoeira
To some, Capoeira looks like a fight and to others, a dance. Which is it? Capoeira is definitely an art form that is not comparable to any of the more traditional martial arts. Two capoeiristas enter the circle or roda de capoeira and begin to move around one another with circular, flowing movements, evading each other’s kicks and attacks all while attempting to trick one another by faking movements. The players do not move completely by accident; capoeiristas learn to listen to the music of the bateria or the band, especially the berimbau, (the main instrument which dictates the mood of the roda). These players move and swing to the rhythms of the instruments, the clapping, and the singing of all those waiting for their turn to enter the roda.
The origins and evolution of Capoeira is an ongoing debate. The most accepted explanation is that Capoeira evolved during the slave trade beginning in the sixteenth century. Slaves were left to the will of their masters without any form of self-defense. In order to put an end to their enslavement, they began to train themselves for combat. Slave owners forbade any form of physical training; therefore slaves disguised their training as a dance. Slaves who were fortunate enough to escape organized and governed communities known as the quilombos. The largest and most resilient of the quilombos was the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the northeastern part of Brasil. Slaves, using Capoeira, banded for a rebellion that led to their freedom. All theories of Capoeira history are questionable due to the lack of documentation which was ordered to be burned after the abolition of slavery.
Despite the love of Capoeira amongst many Brazilians, the president of the Republic of Brasil outlawed the practice of Capoeira in 1890. Police kept an eye out to punish any who attempted to learn the art form. Nevertheless, capoeiristas continued to practice and train underground. In the 1920’s, one man set out to improve the reputation of Capoeira. Manoel dos Reis Machado, or Mestre Bimba, created a form of Capoeira that incorporated other martial art forms like kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and batuque. He called this art form, Capoeira Regional. Mestre Bimba pioneered and transformed the image of capoeira from illegal and dangerous to a proud national sport. Vincente Ferreira, or Mestre Pastinha, pioneered the way for Capoeira Regional’s exact opposite and yet, compliment, Capoeira Angola. Today, the migration of this art form has taken flight and can be found in many countries outside of Brasil, especially here in the United States. It is possible to find a Capoeira school in almost every state in the nation. Men and women, young and old, blacks, whites and Asians have all found themselves drawn to the game of Capoeira. It’s influence on Hollywood, breakdancing, and the music industry proves Capoeira’s popularity. Yet, it’s style, grace, beauty, and athleticism keeps the crowds coming.
What is Capoeira? Capoeira is “a dance like a fight, a fight like a dance, a song, a ritual, a way of life…” –Mestre Acordeon
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that is not comparable to any of the more traditional martial arts. It is a combination of martial arts, dance, music and culture. Today, the migration of this art form has taken flight and can be found in many countries outside of Brazil – especially here in the United States. It is possible to find a Capoeira school in almost every state in the nation. Anyone can practice this amazing martial art. Capoeira New Orleans offers high quality Capoeira classes in Midcity New Orleans and in Gretna. We offer class for kids and adults.