Every country has one or more folk dances. Each one is performed differently than the other, although they might have originated from similar backgrounds. One dance that particularly captures my attention is the Capoeira. The Capoeira is a Brazilian folk dance that started out as a fierce form of self-defense and has now become a friendly dance between a circle of people. To better understand and familiarize with the Capoeira we must learn how and where it originated, the ways it has evolved, and how it is being used today.
In the 1500’s, black slaves in Brazil began to incorporate martial arts moves as a way to defend themselves. Capoeira was the name given for those moves of African martial arts that came out of Angola and were later modified and mixed in Brazil. Earlier, these slaves lacked a form of self-defense, an in a way quite parallel to karate, they began to use these grappling and striking as well as animal forms with the things they had in hand, such as sugar cane knives and 3/4 staffs. Being slaves, they had to disguise the study of the art, and that is how the dance came into it.
Their hands were manacled most of the time, so the art used a lot of standing on hands feet up, and some moves were directed to fighting mounted enemies. Capoeira was born in the “senzalas”, places where slaves were kept, and evolved in the “quilombos”, a refugee home for slaves. The senzalas restricted the Capoeira development, because what hurt the slaves physically hurt the masters financially. When slaves fled, they started to practice the Capoeira again in the quilombos. Since these quilombos were often chased after and hunted down, the Capoeira was used more as a fighting style instead of a dance.
Then in the 1800s, the Capoeira was outlawed in all of Brazil, but it was later surpressed because its frequent hidden practice could not be controlled, so the government decided to allow it again if it was not used violently. Today, the Capoeira consists of a stylized dance, practiced in a circle with sound background provided by percussion or non-percussion instruments. Capoeira relies heavily on kicks and leg sweeps for attacks and dodges for defense. Hand positioning is important but it’s used only to block attacks and ensure balance, though street fighting “capoeiristas” use the hands for punches.
The basic kicks and leg sweeps are the “bencao”, a front-stomping kick, the “martelo”, a roundhouse kick, the “chapa”, a side-kick, the “meia-lua”, a low turning kick, the “armada”, a high turning kick, and the “queixada”, an outside-inside crescent kick. Capoeira starts out with slow kicks and dodges and it increasingly gets faster until a session is over. The Capoeira is a Brazilian folk dance that started out as a fierce form of self-defense and has now become a friendly dance between a circle of people.
To better understand it and familiarize with it we have learned how and where it originated, the ways it has evolved, and how it is being used today. It is a fun dance that has a fascinating history and has greatly evolved from the time it began to the world of today. It is not used only for enternainment, but also for Aerobic exercise. When practiced frequently, it conditions and develops the muscles, especially the abdominal muscles. The Capoeira is a big part of the Brazilian culture, and even if it someday it is no longer practiced, It will still live on in our body and soul.