In 1405, Chinese admiral Zheng He set sail from China to East Africa with 28,000 men aboard 62 treasure ships (each larger than a football field). At each stop, Zheng He would leave warriors and laymen to live with native cultures. His last stop was Angola, Africa. Chinese warriors lived with the coastal natives. Decades later, Portuguese slave traders shipped Angolans to Brazil. Soon after, it’s believed that Angolan slaves in Brazil developed a system of unarmed self-defense called capoeira. To avoid punishment by their superiors, the slaves disguised their martial movements as dance—hence the art’s rhythmical nature and musical accompaniment. It places a heavy emphasis on using mobility to evade attacks.
Capoeira includes numerous acrobatic kicks, punches and flips. Some techniques, such as the cartwheel kick, were created because the slaves’ wrists and ankles were bound by chains to prevent escape. Because Chinese martial artists lived among the Angolans in Africa and many of capoeira’s moves are similar to those found in Chinese martial arts, the fact that Chinese martial artists lived among Angolan’s in Africa, it’s possible capoeira is rooted in Chinese martial arts.