Aug 2, 2009
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that makes a ritual of movements from martial arts, games, and dance. It was brought to Brazil from Angola some time after the 16th century in the regions known as Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro. Participants form a roda, or circle, and take turns either playing musical instruments (such as the Berimbau), singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The game is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, and extensive use of sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws. Capoeira originated in Brazil, when African slaves from all over Africa, including Sudan, Angola and Mozambique, began combining traditional African dance, with fighting techniques. Capoeira was said to be a demonstration against the homogenization of African culture, a combination of cultural practices from different regions as well as a means for self protection and defense. In the late 1800s, Capoeira was made illegal, after it was suspected as a potential cause of unrest and revolution amongst slaves. After it became illegal to openly practice Capoeira, slaves began to participate in the art secretly, for fear of brutal and violent punishments.Capoeira can be best visualized as a combination of dance, kick-boxing and karate. One of the most fundamental movements of Capoiera is the ginga. The ginga is essentially a movement of rocking back and forth and essentially sizing up your opponent. In this position, you rock back and forth from one foot to the other, with your feet squared beneath your shoulders. Generally, individuals maintain a crouched position using their feet as axes to move forward and backward and from side to side. Capoeira is very similar to break-dancing in this way.