Comments for Afro-Brazillian art form Capoeira

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Mar 09, 2012
Brazilian Capoeira
by: David Fiscus

My wife is Brazilian, so I have spent a lot of time researching Brazilian culture. Most people these days are familiar with Brazilian Jujitsu, but Capoeira is really the martial art of Brazil.

It is generally agreed that the seeds of capoeira were sown by the African slaves taken from the region of Angola. The original movements were based on a courtship dance called "The Zebra Dance," in which men would engage in mock fights for the right to marry. In Brazil, this ritual dance evolved into a form of self-defense whose movements emphasized attacks with the head and feet, including head butts, sweeps, and kicks from a handstand position.

Portuguese slave owners outlawed its practice because they recognized that capoeira was used as a form of resistance. However, instead of being suppressed, capoeira's movements of attack and defense were blended with dance steps and acrobatics so that the plantation overseer would instead see a strange but harmless dance. The slaves also began using musical instruments, such as the berimbau and the atabaque, as a way to disguise capoeira. Different rhythms were even created to alert capoeiristas of approaching danger and avoid being caught.

Thanks for sharing David - Your origin story of Capoeira gives honour and integrity to your martial art. I think its really important to acknowledge those who have gone before us and recognise the purpose of our practice. A very rich and colourful story too (what else would you expect from Brazil:)

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