What is Capoeira

Capoeira (pronounced CAÁ-PUÉRA) is a fusion of combat, music, songs, and dance. With a deep routed history starting with the black slavery in Brazil this unique martial art emerged. It is unique to other martial arts in its fluid movements. It could not be classified as a ‘dance’ due to its kicks and blows, that when used in self-defence could be potentially lethal. It cannot really even be classified as a ‘martial’ art, as the method of teaching rarely involves practicing rigid movements, rather a variety of techniques are used – namely playing Capoeira with others.

Capoeira is a Combat Dance that is around 500 years old, originating predominantly from Brazil. It’s a game of skill that combines self-defence fighting techniques, acrobatics, dance and music. Capoeira is characterised by the players’ acrobatic ability, physical skill, flexibility and strength. The infectious musical rhythm to which capoeira is practiced injects a fluidity and grace to this powerful art. It is a way of life for many people around the world today; it must be seen to be believed, played to be appreciated and embraced to be loved…

What is the difference between Angola and Regional styles?

Many groups tend to focus on one of the two main forms of Capoeira, angola or regional. Group Muzenza’s philosophy is that both styles are important in the study of what Capoeira is.

Angola is considered a more ‘traditional’ form of Capoeira, but both styles still retain the traditions and beliefs that were practiced in Brazil 500 years ago. During that time, when Capoeira was just beginning, the environment was one of insecurity and difficulty. The modern form of Angola is derived mainly from Mestre Pastinha’s teachings. It is generally played to slower music, with more emphasis on trickiness or playfulness, but also with deadly technique and accuracy.

Capoeira Regional is a form made popular by Mestre Bimba. This style concentrates more on the fighting and acrobatic parts of Capoeira, designed to draw in the crowds, while still retaining much of the history, philosophy and art. The rhythms are generally much faster, and the movements are performed accordingly.

The Roda

The game is played in what is called a roda (pronounced “ho-da”, literally meaning ‘circle’ or ‘ring’). This is a circle of people, with the musicians placed at the head. The rythm of music that is played determines the style and movements used by the players in the roda, those around clap, and “buy” (join) the game when they are ready. The roda is vital to the nature of Capoeira, it contains the energy and excitement of the game. A good roda can leave a person with an incredible feeling of happiness, exhaustion, and companionship; and thus must be experienced to be understood.

Two players come to either side of the instruments to join the game. When the mestre, or whoever is playing the berimbou, says that they can begin they generally shake hands and enter the center of the roda by doing an au (cartwheel). The game then progresses naturally (see some Capoeira movements).

To buy the game in Regional one player approaches the place where the instruments are and makes clear to the two players that he wishes to join, they then do this by “buying” out the lower graduation player, and the game begins with the higher graduation player. If one person gets tired they may leave at any time, and rejoin the circle.

In Angola you do not buy the game. Instead a person who wishes to join must wait by the instruments until both players decide that they are finished, at which time they shake hands and rejoin the circle, and the game can begin with new players.