"CAPOEIRA is for man, child and woman!"
Around the XVI Century, African Slaves in Brazil developed their own form of fighting, Capoeira, in defiance of the oppressive system in which they lived. The African Slaves placed Capoeira to a unique form of music to which they sang about slavery, Capoeiristas, Africa and often spoke about the experiences of the day. The music often disguises a shrewd wit, astute political awareness, as well as great sadness.
Capoeira is a combination of mental, spiritual and self-defence elements that is rooted in a unique cultural context and possesses a distinct history. It combines tradition, acrobatics, percussion, songs and fight-dance movements and skills.
The music is still very much alive. It is found at the Roda where the Jogo is performed. The Roda is created by a group of Capoeiristas encircling two “players” who exchange ritualised movements of attack and defence, the Jogo, to the rhythm of the Capoeira music. Thus, this is where the true experience of Capoeira takes place.
Today, this powerful Martial Art is a systematic construction of a learning environment that facilitates individual and social growth through a peculiar fight-dance ritual that once was a weapon. It promotes the extension of the person under the ideas of freedom, togetherness and solidarity from within their limitations to infinite possibilities.
Capoeira Angola & Capoeira Reginal
Capoeira has two main different styles: Angola and Regional.
Capoeira Angola is played with slower and lower, very tricky movements (com muita mandinga). As explained by Ken Dossar:
“The object of the game is for the capoeiristas to use finesse, guile, and technique to maneuver one another into a defenseless position, rendering them open to a blow, kick or sweep. Only one's hands, head and feet are allowed to touch the floor. Generally there is no contact from strikes. An implied strike is more admired; particularly when the opponent has been clearly manipulated into an indefensible position. All strikes, evasions, and counterstrikes are woven together creatively during the course of a game. The freedom to improvise and create openings keeps capoeira's action fluid and fresh.”
The most important Mestre of Capoeira Angola is Mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira Pastinha), known as the philosopher of Capoeira.
Capoeira Regional was developed by Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado). His aim was to make Capoeira more effective as a martial art bringing it closer to its fighting origins and less associated with the criminal and discriminated image in Brazil. He actually created a teaching method based in series of sequences and specific movements for the students to master the art. The game is faster and more athletic, although the “mandinga” is very present.
Today there are groups dedicated to either Angola or Regional, and some others like Tribo Capoeira that practice both styles, respecting the traditions and foundations of each one of them and at the same time accepting the fact that Capoeira is alive and in constant evolution. This approach to Capoeira is called by many "Capoeira Contemporanea".
This is just a little part of Capoeira history to help you understand what is this beautiful art about. But the best way to see what is so magical about Capoeira is to join in the classes, learn the basics and let the "ginga" move your body at the rhythm of the berimbau.