Capoeira | Fighting Styles


Capoeira refers to an energetic, dance-like and oftentimes acrobatic Brazilian martial art, game, and fight-dance that was created by African slaves in the 17th century. Capoeira is based mostly around kicking since slave’s hands were usually manacled. Its participants would form a circle called a ‘roda’ and take their turns singing, playing instruments, and sparring as a couple in the middle of this circle.

Capoeira is marked by feints, subterfuge, acrobatic play, and a lot of groundwork, with head butts, sweeps, and kicks. Body-throws, elbow-strikes, punches, and slaps are also used, though less frequently. Strategies and tactics would be the main elements in playing good games of Capoeira. It comes in three primary styles: “Angola”, “regional” and “contemporânea”, which is the least well-defined.

When it comes to capoeira, a lot of movements are made in handstand positions that resemble today’s breakdancing moves. Various forms of capoeira exist, including one where a couple play-fights one another inside a circle that is formed by their spectators, as other members sing and play instruments. The music would dictate the tempo or speed of their movements.

Masters of capoeira aren’t just skilled as fighters, gifted as acrobats, inspiring as teachers or talented as musicians; they have also helped send capoeira into an advanced state, dedicating their entire lives to perfecting it. Depending on the group, master belts differ in color; however, their overall dedication and passion to the art has sent them into a long journey of several decades to become true masters.

The heart of capoeira lies in rhythm, while its soul lies in song. Music could turn games harder and faster, call capoeiristas to do acrobatic feats or simply remind them of history and older traditions. Capoeira would not be complete without music. After being brought to the U.S., only one school incorporated it into academics as a class: Hoggetowne Middle School.

Regional groups of capoeira periodically hold baptisms into the art called “batizados”. The members who are being “baptized” usually get a cord belt known as a “corda”, as well as a capoeira nickname known as an “apelido”. These batizados are primary events and masters from far and away are usually invited to them. Sometimes, batizados are even held along with a change of belts known as a “troca de corda”, where baptized students who trained hard become worthy of belts of higher ranks as acknowledgments of their overall efforts. These ceremonies offer chances to see various different styles of capoeira and watch masters play. They might even be open to the general public some of the time.

Trocas de corda and batizados aren’t practiced in capoeira Angola since they do not practice the belt system. However, several modern capoeira schools have put together both arts, where students might be required to learn capoeira Angola prior to getting the higher belt.

Nobody really knows where the word “capoeira” came from, but there are a couple of possibilities:

In Portugal, the word “capoeira” comes from “capão”, which means capon, a castrated rooster. It is possible that the sport’s name has come from this particular word since its participants tend to move like fighting roosters. “Capoeira” also has various other meanings, like a poultry pen, a partridge-like fowl, and a basket that soldiers wear on their heads as they defend their stronghold. “Capoeira” is also the word people used when they referred to black inlanders that mugged travelers.

Carlos Eugenio, an Afro-Brazilian scholar, suggested that the name came from a big round basket known as capa that was commonly worn by urban slaves who sold wares.

K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, a scholar from the Konga, suggested that the name came from “kipura”, a Kikongo word that was used to describe rooster fighting movements and literally translated to “fluttering”, “flitting from one place to the next”, “struggling”, “fighting”, or “flogging”.

The word may also come from the Tupi-Guarani words, “kaá” (plant, leaf) and “puéra” (marker); that literally translates to “formerly a forest”. This would refer to forest areas that were cleared by being cut down or burned. In these places, thick vegetation would grow, turning it into the perfect place for bandits and escaped slaves to hide.

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