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Do You Know the Rich History of Capoeira?

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

One of the great martial arts to come out of South America is capoeira. This Afro-Brazilian style combines elements of dance and acrobatics with influences from enslaved Africans, Indigenous Brazilians, and Portuguese.

Beginning in the 1500s, this art has evolved tremendously over time.

Initially, capoeira had a strong foundation in spirituality. While it was a form of self-defense, encoded into its movements were spirituality and culture that many formerly enslaved Brazilians relied on, so much so that it was outlawed in 1890, just two years after slavery was abolished in Brazil. Some report that the prohibition was due to the effectiveness of the martial art against law and order. The ban argued that capoeira was dangerous and deadly. This applied specifically to rebellion groups known as quilombos that were comprised of former slaves who escaped using capoeira.

It took another forty years before the style was decriminalized. In the 1930s, Mestre Bimba altered traditional capoeira by subverting the spiritual elements and introducing elements of jiu jitsu and gymnastics. Because of this, the government deemed this form of capoeira an appropriate sport.

It would take another 40 years before the sport spread to other parts of the world. Mestre Acordeon was a true trailblazer who brought capoeira to the US and Europe. Notably, due to is rich history and influence on certain populations over time, UNESCO granted capoeira special protected status as “intangible cultural heritage” in 2014.

If you want to become a capoeirista, you must master these techniques of modern capoeira: Ginga (Swing) – the foundation of capoeira technique is ginga which is a rocking step or sway. And there are serval different forms of ginga. Such as: traditional ginga, normal ginga, ginga quebradas (breaks)

Cabeçada (headbutt) Ponte (bridge) Queda de rins (fall on the kidneys) Bananeira (handstand) Negativa (crouching position) Rolê (roll) Aú (cartwheel) Start learning each movement here

Check out Capoeira instructional content from elite teachers like Mestre Barrao and Joselito Santos on Black Belt+

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