Capoeira (pronounced “cop-o-way-rah”) is an extraordinary and unique martial art that finds its origins among the African slaves in Brazil. It combines self-defense, acrobatics, dance, music and song. Its martial aspects began developing in the 16th and 17th centuries, as a means of protection by the slaves from their owners. It was consequently banned, and became hidden in a dance; it was ‘played’ within a circle of onlookers and musicians using percussive and stringed instruments- primarily the berimbau, a stringed bow-like instrument from Angola. It was in the circle (a roda in Portuguese) where highly skilled capoeristas performed their art using a system of kicks, leg sweeps, and flips.
In the 1930’s Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha formed the first ‘legitimate’ capoeira schools, formalizing its movements and customs. They are the foundation for today’s worldwide capoeira community, and you can visit a capoeira school in most major cities. Visit any one to see its unique combination of physical skills, and how it develops endurance, flexibility, and alertness in its practitioners, as well as strength and mental balance. Listen to live traditional music set the tempo for the capoeiristas while they practice a free and creative interplay of movements. Experience the beauty of a living history.