Pages For Salvador Bahia Brasil Resources for Travel in Brazil



A lot of people were exposed to Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, thru this guy right here, Eddy Gordo from the game Tekken (and also the movie Tekken).  The way that Capoeira in Brazil developed has made the martial art a worldwide cultural phenomenom.  You can now find Capoeira schools all over the world.
capoeira in brazil
There is a great Brazilian movie called Besouro that was filmed right in the Mecca of Capoeira, the state of Bahia.  Bahia is where Capoeira was created and also where the culture is strongest.  Back to Besouro, check  it out.  It's like a Capoeira Kung Fu movie (complete with high-wire special effects made popular by Kung Fu flicks) where actual figures from Brazilian/Bahian history have there stories told in super hero fashion.  The main character is definitely larger than life in the movie.  If you are a fan or practitioner of Capoeira you have to check out this film. 

article found here:

Capoeira in Brazil

Capoeira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ]) is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by African slaves by mixing the many fighting styles from many of their tribes, sometime after the sixteenth century.[1] It was developed in the region of Quilombo dos Palmares, located in the Brazilian state of Alagoas, which was the state of Pernambuco before dismemberment,[2] and has had great influence on Afro-Brazilian generations, with strong presence in the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.[2] 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 sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, takedowns, and with extensive use of leg sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws. Its origins and purpose are a matter of debate, with theories ranging from views of Capoeira as a uniquely Brazilian folk dance with improvised fighting movements to claims that it is a battle-ready fighting form directly descended from ancient African techniques.[3]


The word "capoeira" had a probable origin as a derisive term used by slave owners to refer to its practice as chicken fights (the word literally means "chicken coop" in Portuguese). Another claim is that the word "capoeira" derives from the Native-American language Tupi-Guarani words kaá ("leaf", "plant") and puéra (past aspect marker), meaning "formerly a forest."[citation needed]

Afro-Brazilian art form

Capoeira in Brazil is a direct descendant of African fighting styles, and was incorporated with Brazilian dance form distilled from African slaves in Brazil which is in essence from various African and Brazilian influences.[3]
One popular explanation holds that it is an African fighting style that was developed in Brazil, as expressed by a proponent named Salvano,[who?] who said, "Capoeira cannot exist without black men but its birthplace is Brazil... Capoeira, as it was taught to me, is the warrior's dance that was done between slaves that escaped their masters outside the cities. I was taught Capoeira in Rio de Janeiro by master Morcego who had come from Bahia, where he said Capoeira was played in the streets since he was little." (Page' Retifumo, MR)[citation needed]
capoeira brazil

Some interpretations emphasize capoeira as a fighting style designed for rebellion, but disguised by a façade of dance. Supporting the martial interpretation are renderings in the 1835 Voyage Pittoresque dans le Brésil (Picturesque Voyage to Brazil), where ethnographic artist Johann Moritz Rugendas depicts Capoeira or the Dance of War, lending historical credence to the idea that Capoeira is a combative art form with many dance elements.

Other Pan African-American combative traditions parallel capoeira. According to Dr. Morton Marks, the island of Martinique is famous for danymé, also known as ladja.[4] As with capoeira, "there is a ring of spectators into which each contestant enters, moving in a counter-clockwise direction and dancing toward drummers. This move, known as Kouwi Lawon (or ‘Circular Run’ in Creole), is an exact parallel to the capoeira interlude called dá volta ao mundo or ‘take a turn around the world.’"[4] Marks stated that in Cuba, a mock-combat dance called Mani was performed to yuka drums.[4] "A dancer (manisero) would stand in the middle of a ring of spectator-participants and, moving to the sound of the songs and drums, would pick someone from the circle and attempt to knock them down." Some of the manisero's moves and kicks were similar to those of Afro-Brazilian capoeira including its basic leg-sweep (rasteira).[4]

In Capoeira : A History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art, Matthias Röhrig Assunção compared "three American combat traditions: knocking and kicking in the United States, ladija in Martinique, and capoeira in Brazil."[5] African-derived combat games similar to wrestling and stick fighting were also witnessed and documented in 17th-century Barbados, 18th-century Jamaica, and 19th century Venezuela.[6] Stick fighting was and still is practiced in Trinidad, Carriacou, Dominica, and Haiti.[6]

Maya Talmon-Chvaicer suggested that Capoeira in Brazil may have been influenced by a ritual fight-dance called N'golo (the zebra dance) from Southern Angola, which was performed during the "Efundula, a puberty rite for women of the Mucope, Muxilenge, and Muhumbe tribes of southern Angola." [7] Since the 1960s, the N'golo theory has become popular amongst some practitioners of Capoeira Angola, although it is not universally accepted.

While many of these games are combative, it is widely accepted that slaves in the New World would have sought both violent and jovial means of coping with their oppression.

Status in Brazil and development as a sport

For some time, Capoeira in Brazil was criminalized and prohibited. Assunção provided ample data from police records dating back to the 1800s demonstrating that capoeira was an "important reason" to detain slaves and "free coloured individuals".[8] "From 288 slaves that entered the Calabouço jail during the year 1857-1858, 80 (31 per cent) were arrested for [capoeira], and only 28 (10.7 per cent) for running away. Out of 4,303 arrests in Rio police jail in 1862, 404 detainess --nearly 10 per cent-- had been arrested for capoeira."[9] In 1890, Brazilian president Deodoro da Fonseca signed an act that prohibited the practice of capoeira nationwide, with severe punishment for those caught.[citation needed] It was nevertheless practiced by the poorer population on public holidays, during work-free hours, and on other similar occasions. Riots, also caused by police interference, were common[citation needed].

In spite of the ban, Manuel dos Reis Machado (Mestre Bimba) pioneered academic Capoeira which became knowns as "Capoeira Regional." Reis Machado was finally successful in convincing the authorities of the cultural value of Capoeira, thus ending the official ban in the 1930s.[10] Reis Machado founded the first Capoeira school in 1932, the Academia-Escola de Capoeira Regional at the Engenho de Brotas in Salvador-Bahia. He was then considered "the father of modern Capoeira". In 1937, he earned the state board of education certificate.[10] In 1942, Reis Machado opened his second school at the Terreiro de Jesus - rua das Laranjeiras. The school is still open today and supervised by his pupil, known as "Vermelho-27"[citation needed].


Having saved capoeira from illegality, Mestre Bimba began being challenged by other capoeira masters who possessed their own unique capoeira styles, such as capoeira angola. There were several prominent angola mestres at this time in Salvador and they held regular rodas together in an area called Gengibirra of Salvador.[11] There were twenty-two mestres in all; among them were Mestre Amorzinho—who commanded the rodas--, Daniel Coutinho--"Mestre Noronha"--, Onça Preta, Geraldo Chapeleiro, Juvenal, and Livino Diogo.[11] Together they founded a center for capoeira Angola.[11] Around the time of Amorzinho's death in 1941-1942 Vicente Ferreira Pastinha, best known as "Mestre Pastinha", took over the center, called the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola.[12] Pastinha worked almost up to his death in 1981 to codify the more traditional Angola style of capoeira and he wrote endlessly on the sport.[13] Because he preserved much of the traditional style of capoeira, in his practice, teachings, and writings, he too is important to modern capoeira.

UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is a practitioner of Capoeira


capoeira music
A capoeira bateria led by Cobra Mansa featuring three berimbaus and a pandeiro.

Music is integral to Capoeira in Brazil. It sets the tempo and style of game that is to be played within the roda. The music is composed of instruments and song. The tempos differ from very slow (Angola) to very fast (são bento regional). Many of the songs are sung in a call and response format while others are in the form of a narrative. Capoeiristas sing about a wide variety of subjects. Some songs are about history or stories of famous capoeiristas. Other songs attempt to inspire players to play better. Some songs are about what is going on within the roda. Sometimes the songs are about life or love lost. Others have lighthearted and playful lyrics. Capoeiristas change their playing style significantly as the songs or rhythm from the berimbau commands. In this manner, it is truly the music that drives capoeira.

There are three basic kinds of songs in capoeira[citation needed]. A ladainha (litany) is a narrative solo usually sung at the beginning of a roda, often by the mestre (master). These ladainhas will often be famous songs previously written by a mestre, or they may be improvised on the spot. A ladainha is usually followed by a chula or louvação, following a call and response pattern that usually thanks God and one's teacher, among other things. Each call is usually repeated word-for-word by the responders. The ladainha and chula are often omitted in regional games. Finally, corridos are songs that are sung while a game is being played, again following the call and response pattern. The responses to each call do not simply repeat what was said, however, but change depending on the song.

The instruments are played in a row called the bateria. The rhythm of the bateria is set by the berimbaus (stringed percussion instruments that look like musical bows). Other instruments in the bateria are: two pandeiros (tambourines), a reco-reco (rasp), and an agogô (double gong bell). The atabaque (conga-like drum), a common feature in most capoeira baterias, is considered an optional instrument, and is not required for a full bateria in some groups.


While the variety in styles lead to a variety of ranking systems, there is a standard trend that most systems of capoeira follow. In order of ascension, those ranks are aluno (student), graduado (graduated), formado (formed), professor (teacher), and mestre (master).

Usually at their first batizado (baptism), a capoeirista will be given the rank of aluno. In some styles, this may also come with a cordão (rope) and / or apelido (nickname). Aluno translates to "student" in English, and so an aluno is a student of capoeira. Their rank is a recognition of their readiness to learn.

After an aluno becomes well versed in the capoeira they are learning, they can be recognized as an aluno graduado (graduated student). This means they've learned enough about capoeira to be trusted to teach the art to others. At this point, they would continue to learn not only capoeira, but how to teach capoeira. It could be considered the equivalent of a black belt in Eastern martial arts.

An aluno graduado can then become an aluno formado (formed student). They have formed their own capoeira and are now ready to teach others. A formado will usually be an instructor assisting the head of whichever school they are a part of.

The aluno formado goes on to become a professor. Formado and professor are generally similar in rank, the main difference being a professor might have his own school in which to teach, while a formado would usually be an assistant instructor.

The final rank in capoeira would be a mestre (master). As the name states, the mestre is a master of capoeira. Mestres tend to be the true voices of capoeira. All other ranks are usually assigned by a mestre, but this rank is hard to assign. For the most part, a capoeirista becomes a mestre when the capoeira community recognizes them as one. This will usually take place after 15 to 20 years of continuous training.

capoeira in brazil

The jogo (game/match)

Capoeiristas outside (Porto Alegre, Brasil)

Capoeiristas outside
Capoeira in Brazil does not focus on injuring the opponent. Rather, it emphasizes skill. Capoeiristas often prefer to show the movement without completing it though it could be finished to cause harm to the receiver, enforcing their superiority in the roda. If an opponent cannot dodge a slow attack, there is no reason to use a faster one. Each attack that comes in gives players a chance to practice an evasive technique.


The ginga (literally: rocking back and forth; to swing) is the fundamental movement in capoeira. Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional have distinctive forms of ginga. Both are accomplished by maintaining both feet approximately shoulder-width apart and then moving one foot backwards and then back to the base, describing a triangular step on the ground. This movement is done to prepare the body for other movements.

The rest of the body is also involved in the ginga: coordination of the arms (in such a way as to prevent the body from being kicked), torso (many core muscles may be engaged depending on the player's style), and the leaning of the body (forward and back in relation to the position of the feet; the body leans back to avoid kicks, and forward to create opportunities to show attacks). The overall movement should match the rhythm being played by the bateria.


Capoeira primarily attacks with kicks, sweeps, takedowns, and head strikes. Some schools teach punches and hand strikes, but they are not as common. A possible explanation for the primary use of feet is the common West African belief that hands are for creation and feet for destruction[citation needed]. Another common explanation is that slaves in Brazil were commonly shackled at the wrists, restricting them from using their hands[citation needed].

Lastly, striking with the hands is often seen as inelegant and disruptive to the flow of the game. Elbow strikes are commonly used in place of hand strikes. "Cabeçadas" or headbutts are as common as they are in many of the fighting arts of the African Diaspora[citation needed]. Knee strikes are sometimes seen. Capoeira also uses acrobatic and athletic movements to maneuver around the opponent. Cartwheels called "" (a very common acrobatic movement), handstands (bananeira), headspins (pião de cabeça), hand-spins (pião de mão), handsprings (gato), sitting movements, turns, jumps, flips (mortal), and large dodges are all very common in capoeira though vary greatly depending on the form and rhythm. Fakes and feints are also an extremely important element in capoeira games. The setting of traps or illusory movements are very common.


Capoeira defenses consists of evasive moves and rolls. A series of ducks called esquivas, which literally means "escape", are also staple of a capoeiristas' defensive vocabulary. There are typically different esquivas for every step of the Ginga, depending on the direction of the kick and intention of the defender. A common defense is the rolê, which is a rolling move that combines a duck and a low movement. This move allows the defensive players to quickly evade an attack and position themselves around the aggressor in order to lay up for an attack. It is this combination of attacks and defense which gives a game of capoeira its perceived 'fluidity' and choreography.

Other evasive moves such as rasteira, vingativa, tesoura de mão or queda allow the capoeirista to move away or dangerously close in an attempt to trip up the aggressor in the briefest moment of vulnerability (usually in a mid-kick.)


A Capoeira movement (Aú Fechado) (click for animation).

There are also styles of moves that combine both elements of attack and defense. An example is the au batido. The move begins as an evasive cartwheel which then turns into a blocking/kick, either as a reflexive response to a blocking move from the opposing player or when an opportunity to do so presents itself, e.g., at an opponent's drop of guard. Two kicks called meia-lua-de-frente and armada are often combined to create a double spinning kick.


The Chamada is a ritual that takes place within the game of Capoeira Angola. Chamada means 'call', and consists of one player 'calling' their opponent to participate in the ritual. There is an understood dialogue of gestures of the body that are used to call the opponent, and to signal the end of the ritual. The ritual consists of one player signaling, or calling the opponent, who then approaches the player and meets the player to walk side by side within the roda. The player who initiated the ritual then decides when to signal an end to the ritual, whereby the two players return to normal play. The critical points of the chamada occur during the approach, and the chamada is considered a 'life lesson', communicating the fact that the approach is a dangerous situation. Approaching people, animals, or life situations is always a critical moment when one must be aware of the danger of the situation. The purpose of the chamada is to communicate this lesson, and to enhance the awareness of people participating in the ritual.

During the ritual, after the opposing player has appropriately approached the caller of the chamada, the players walk side by side inside the circle in which the game is played. This is another critical situation, because both players are now very vulnerable due to the close proximity and potential for surprise attack.

Experienced practitioners and masters of the art will sometimes test a student's awareness by suggesting strikes, head-butts, or trips during a chamada to demonstrate when the student left themselves open to attack. The end of a chamada is called by the player that initiated the ritual, and consists of a gesture inviting the player to return to normal play. This is another critical moment when both players are vulnerable to surprise attack.

The chamada can result in a highly developed sense of awareness and helps practitioners learn the subtleties of anticipating another person's intentions. The chamada can be very simple, consisting solely of the basic elements, or the ritual can be quite elaborate including a competitive dialogue of trickery, or even theatric embellishments.

Volta ao mundo

Volta ao mundo means "around the world".[4]
The volta ao mundo takes place after an exchange of movements has reached a conclusion, or after there has been a disruption in the harmony of the game. In either of these situations, one player will begin walking around the perimeter of the circle, and the other player will join the "around the world" before returning to the normal game.


Malandragem is a word that comes from malandro, which means a person who possesses cunning as well as malicia, which translates to "malice." This, however, is misleading as the meaning of malicia means trickery/deceit. The word comes from the historical folklore of Brasil, in which men who were marginalized from main stream society and possessed street smarts were called malandros. Malandragem is an attitude derived from the mindset of the malandro and is a unique and distinguishing characteristic of the art of capoeira.

Capoeira angola

Capoeira angola is considered to be the more ancient form of capoeira[citation needed] and is often characterized by deeply held traditions, slower movements and with the players playing their games in closer proximity to each other than in regional or contemporanea. Capoeira angola is often characterized as being slower and lower to the ground than other major forms of Capoeira, although in actual practice, the speed varies in accordance with the music. It is played much as it Capoeira originally was played on the street before being moved indoors and systematized into the more modernized version of Capoiera regional. Capoeira Angola is also known for the chamada, a physical call-and-response used to challenge an opponent or to change the style in the roda.

The father of the best known modern Capoeira angola schools is considered to be Grão-Mestre Pastinha who lived in Salvador, Bahia. Today, many of the Capoeira angola schools in the United States come from Mestres in Pastinha's lineage. He was not the only Capoeira angola mestre, but is considered to be the "Father of Capoeira angola"[15] bringing this style of Capoeira into the modern setting of an academy. He also wrote the first book about Capoeira, Capoeira Angola, now out of print. Capoeira angola has experienced an explosion of growth during the past 20 years, it can be found in few cities Brazil where it's not often practiced or even recognized as real capoeira and many larger cities in the USA, Europe, South America, Japan, as well as many other locations.

Capoeira regional

Regional is the more common form of Capoeira, it is practiced much more widely in Brazil then any other style of Capoeira and it's often what Brazilians refer to when they speak of Capoeira. Capoeira Regional was developed by Reis Machado (Mestre Bimba) to make capoeira more effective and bring it closer to its fighting origins, and less associated with the criminal elements of Brazil. The Capoeira Regional style is often considered to consist of faster and more athletic play than the lesser-known Capoeira angola.
Later, modern regional came to be Capoeira Contemporânea. Developed by other people from Bimba's regional, this type of game is characterized by high jumps, acrobatics, and spinning kicks. This regional should not be confused with the original style created by Reis Machado.

Regional ranks capoeiristas by ability, denoting different skill with the use of a corda (colored rope, also known as cordel or cordão) worn as a belt. Angola does not use such a formal system of ranking, relying instead upon the discretion of a student's mestre. In both forms, though, recognition of advanced skill comes only after many years of constant practice[citation needed].

Capoeira Contemporânea

Contemporânea is a term for groups that train multiple styles of capoeira simultaneously. Very often students of Capoeira Contemporânea train elements of Regional and Angola as well as newer movements that would not fall under either of those styles.

The label Contemporânea also applies to many groups who do not trace their lineage through Reis Machado or Pastinha and do not strongly associate with either tradition.

In recent years, the various philosophies of modern capoeira have been expressed by the formation of schools, particularly in North America, which focus on and continue to develop their specific form of the modern art. Some schools teach a blended version of the many different styles. Traditionally, rodas in these schools will begin with a period of Angola, in which the school's mestre, or an advanced student, will sing a ladainha, (a long, melancholy song, often heard at the start of an Angola game). After some time, the game will eventually increase in tempo, until, at the mestre's signal, the toque of the berimbaus changes to that of traditional Regional.

Each game, Regional and Angola stresses different strengths and abilities. Regional emphasizes speed and quick reflexes, whereas Angola underscores a great deal of thought given to each move, almost like a game of chess. Schools that teach a blend of these try to offer this mix as a way of using the strengths of both games to influence a player.

Here's a video of my Son doing Capoeira:



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