Pronounced Cap-oh-air-ah.

Brasilian rhythmic fighting dance developed over 300 years ago when African slaves were first brought to Brazil. It is a blend of music, spirituality, kicks and other acrobatics similar to a Central African dance called n’golo or "zebra dance".

Slaves were not permitted to fight or practice any form of self-defense, so they developed the dance-like movements of capoeira to disguise its true intention. The fluid movements act to distract and confuse a would be attacker.

The art form has gained popularity the world over and capoeira clubs and academies can be found in most major cities and in countries as far away from Brazil as Australia and Singapore.
Among the numerous styles of Capoeira, their are three key disciplines: Capoeira Angola, Capoeira Regional, and Abada-Capoeira.

Angola Capoeira came first, and the acrobatic movements are very fluid and intricate. Originally used by Brazilian slaves as an emotional and physical outlet, Angola is a very beautiful martial art. The history, culture, and music of Brazil is a very important part of the teachings.

Capoeira Regional was created by Mestre Bimba and grew out of Capoeira Angola. What Angola has in style, Regional makes up in strength. Regional is a combination of several martial arts and Angola to make a very powerful form. The focus is in strength, control, and power. The more cultural aspects are faded in this style.

The largest Capoeira organization in the world, Abada-Capoeira is a mix of Regional and Angola. Abada brings the grace of Angola and the power of Regional together. Students are expected to train in the music, song, and cultural aspects of Capoeira, along with the rigor physical training required to become proficient in Abada. Abada can be considered the middle ground, taking the best piece of both and making a effective fighting and artistic style.


Afro Brazilian martial art and at the same time dance. One of many cultural weapons used to break the chains of enslavement in Brazil. Music was played during capoeira sessions to teach the rythmic heart of the art and to mask its power.

In front of the enslavers it looked like playfulness, acrobatic dancing, and joking around. Eventually the enslavers realized its power and outlawed Capoeira. Death was the penalty paid if you were caught during the slavery years.

For almost 400 years Capoeira was taught and practiced in secret. Only in the 1930's did this African martial art become legal to teach and practice.

Fluid, dance-like movements done close to the ground. With shifty rythmic movements, combined with the look of playfulness or vulnerability an adversary is brought to defeat. The basic technique through which the Capoeira Angola player develops the game is the ginga, a shifty side to side movement. At the heart of the art is the music lead by the berimbau, a steel stringed bow instrument with a gourd resonator.

When Capoeira Angola is played the berimbau signals the beginning and end of each game, and governs the style and speed of the play. The berimbau is usually joined by the pandeiro (tambourine), the agogo (African Bell), and the atabaque (a conga-like drum).

See Also Breakdancing, B-Boying, New School, House, Be Bop, Locking and Popping.

saturday morning on the grass
a circle of white,
and the voice calls out
agora sim que matarom meu Besouro
and I am at the foot of the berimbau
crouched like a frog
depois de morte Besourinho cordao de ouro
we shake hands
and begin dancing
agora sim que matarom meu Besouro
with hands and feet we kiss the ground,
music guiding us
depois de morte Besourinho cordao de ouro
como e meu nome
and we smile and laugh
around the world,
e Besouro
paying homage to our teachers
como e meu nome
and each other
cordao de ouro
for this game we play

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