Capoeira of Brazil

Capoeira was created more than 400 years ago by enslaved Africans from Angola who were brought to Brazil. Capoeira was a means of defense from the violent enslavers. It was formed to disguise their training as mere singing and dancing. They incorporated music, dance and flexible movements into combat theories. It used techniques brought from African such as call and response in songs that inspired freedom and gave tribute to their homeland. They also used instruments brought from Africa such as the tambourine (pandeiro), bells (agogo), and the berimbau.

Training took place in the middle of a circle (roda). Two capoeiristas would practice at a time so to further the disguise of dancing. The mask used indirect contact and non-threatening moves because slaves were not allowed to show any aggression. Thus, slaves learned the art of maladro, or trickery.

Capoeira was used for revolts against slavery. It was taught to men, women, and children alike. In 1892, Capoeira was outlawed in Brazil. Teaching, practicing, or using capoeira was severely punished. In the spirit that kept capoeira alive for 400 years, it became a underground movement. Capoeiristas took on nicknames that were descriptive of their style or body type. Rodas  were practiced in concealed places.

In 1937, Capoeira was legalized for promotion as a Brazilian sport. Today, Capoeira is a popular form of martial arts for the young and old, men and women. It is practiced all over the world. It has been incorporated into popular dance, it seen in television and movies.

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