Just a few words about the art that I train and teach.
Capoeira is a martial art that was created by the enslaved Africans who were brought by the Portuguese to Brazil to work the mines and plantations of that country. It is estimated that between the 16th and 19th centuries, over three million Africans were transported to Brazil. Few written accounts remain of this period, but a rich oral tradition says that capoeira was used as a means of unarmed combat. Some Africans were able to use it to defend themselves from their overseers and to escape into Brazil's vast jungle areas. When they saw how effective capoeira could be, the Portuguese outlawed it. Anyone caught practicing capoeira was severely punished--many were even killed. As a way of preserving their art, the capoeiristas began to disguise it by adding music, singing, and acrobatic movements so that it began to look like a dance, a harmless entertainment. Thus capoeira survived from generation to generation, under the noses of those who wanted to destroy it. In 1932 Mestre Bimba opened the first capoeira academy to be officially recognized by the government. Today capoeira is a National Sport in Brazil and is rapidly gaining recognition in South America, Europe, the United States, Australia, and Canada.
Capoeira is a game that is played by two people inside a circle or roda. But it is more than just a game. It is also a dance, a competition, and a training for self-defense. The players kneel in front of the musician at the top of the circle and await permission to begin playing. Once permission is granted they begin to execute a series of kicks, escapes, and counterattacks. The type of game being played is determined by the music being played. Capoeira ranges from slow chess-like games played close to the floor, to combative games where the attacks are for real, to high flying games that are purely acrobatic. Everyone is encouraged to participate by singing, clapping, and playing the musical instruments. Some capoeiristas even learn to make their own instruments.
Capoeira teaches coordination, self-control, and cooperation. It also helps develop strength and flexibility. It is a survival art that has endured for over three centuries by adapting itself to the circumstances and abilities of those who practice it.