What is capoeira

Capoeira is a martial art that originated in colonial Brazil, a fusion of combat, dance, play and acrobatics. It is a dialogue and a game between two capoeiristas, surrounded in a roda (circle) around them by participants who play and sing capoeira music and songs. The dialogue reflects all the emotions we know from ordinary verbal communication.

It is improvised at the moment, and provides within some unwritten framework, traditions and rituals, the opportunity to channel our daily challenges, joys and personality. The dialogue can therefore be anything from very controlled to incredibly playful, or seriously debating, depending on the capoeirista's abilities and willingness to take risks. It is a delicate balance which at times, depending on time and place, as in all other human contexts, can go really wrong. Therefore, in any capoeira context, you must strive for the best in the dialogue, but always be prepared for the worst.

The completely unique fusion of the elements of capoeira creates magical moments that cannot be seen in any other cultural manifestation in the world.

Painting by Johann Moritz Rugendas

The myth tells that the slaves hid the dangerous capoeira fighting techniques as a dance, with song and music, so as not to reveal their real power and danger to the slave owners. Capoeira's origins are still debated among historians. However, it is known that the roots are deeply rooted in Africa, and arose when the slaves met the Portuguese and the indigenous population of Brazil.

However, the precise details were lost when, in 1888, Brazil, as the last country in the world, abolished slavery, and the Portuguese burned all documents in an attempt to erase the traces of this blemish on the country's history.

Capoeira was banned in Brazil, and was met with severe prison sentences and whipping, until Mestre Bimba, who was the first in 1937, was allowed to teach capoeira. In 2009 capoeira was declared national cultural heritage in Brazil and in 2014 the "Roda de Capoeira" declared a world cultural heritage by UNESCO. Capoeira is practiced today by millions of people around the world, for most a leisure activity, for others a way of life and identity.