The actual history of this interesting style is unknown, but this is the basic, accepted theory:
Capoiera was developed by the African slaves brought to Brazil by Portugese merchants. The slaves were from various tribes, some were even from enemy tribes. Realizing that their condition would not change on it's own, they decided to revolt. Bu they had to be able ot fight, and they were obviously not allowed to have weapons, so they took lessons from their tribal dances, and began to develop a way of fighting based on these dances. This was act- ually very clever, as they were able to convince their masters that they were only practicing their ancient traditional dances while they were, in fact learning to fight. The practiced their secret art to the rhythms of drums and a stringed, wooden instrument called the berimbau. Eventually, they did gain their freedom. The "dance" of capoiera and the capoeiristas ( practicioners of the art ) became so feared that Capoiera was actually made illegal in Brazil until the 1930's, when government restrictions were relaxed and students were once again allowed to practice.
Today, Capoiera is popular around the world. The dancing and music initially used to disguise the style have been fully integrated into the style. It is even a type of game for those who practice it.
Capoeira is usually done inside a circle of people called a "roda", pronouced HO-DUH. The people in the circle are usually other capoeiristas waiting to "play", and observers. Player or not you are expected to give energy to the roda by clapping and singing in response to the person "in charge" of the roda. There are several instruments used to make the music in the capoeira roda. The agogo (double cowbell), pandeiro (tambourine), Atabaque (conga type drum), and the Berimbau which is the most important. Each instrument, when played correctly, contributes to the energy in the roda, but the Berimbau is the commanding instrument. It tells the players inside the roda how to play, fast or slowly, agressively or pretty with lots of acrobatics. The berimbau starts and stops the roda, and all the other instruments follow it's rhythm and tempo.
Many people ask if Capoiera is a dance, or a fighting art. Mestre Joao Grande, considered to be one of the greatest Capoiera teachers, answered this question once with this, " In the hour of fighting, it is a fight. And in the hour of dance, it is a dance".
Capoiera is a very interseting form to observe. It appeals to both the body and the mind. The driving rhythms reach into the body and stir one to movement, while the wild dancing and acrobatics entertain the eye and mind. It is a constantly moving style, and this can be very confusing to someone who has never faced a capoeirista before.
Entrance Requirements: PS. 13, P.P. 14, Spd. 15 Costume: None in particular, but students dress in all white. Stance: A low crouching position, with circular motion.
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