History of Capoeira

It is said that Capoeira is a child conceived in Africa and born and raised in Brazil. Originally outlawed in Brazil, the art of Capoeira was created and practiced by Africans forcibly brought to Brazil during the slave trade as a form of combating their oppression. Dance-like movements, instruments and singing disguised the martial nature of the art from the Portuguese slave masters. Capoeira continued to be illegal in Brazil until the 1930’s when it was taken off the streets and brought into the classroom. Today Capoeira is a both legal and very popular in Brazil and throughout the world. On July 15th, 2008, Capoeira was officially recognized as a culturally preserved art by the Brazilian government’s Department of Culture. It is a rich and multi-dimensional art that teaches culture, language, music and encompasses a complete body workout.

Capoeira is always played in a circle, or roda, where the participants are both the musicians and the players. The berimbau (one-stringed bow instrument) commands the rhythm of the roda and the nature of the games that are played. It is accompanied by other instruments: pandeiro (tambourine), atabaque (drum), agogô (cowbell) and call-and-response singing. It is these essential elements that mark the start of a roda, decide the duration and set the tone for the games that will be played.

The roda de Capoeira is an energetic and joyful culmination of all the skills learned during the class and, as nothing is choreographed, a great lesson in quick reflex and spontaneity. Within the roda, the game is a conversation between two people using the language of Capoeira, testing one another’s skills with a combination of kicks, dodges, acrobatics (floreios) and the foundation footwork of Capoeira: ginga. Because the beauty and richness of Capoeira are best experienced live, we encourage you come to one of our classes.