The slaves, brought to Brazil from Africa originally created the Brazilian Capoeira. It combines music, dance and martial arts together and has had great influence on the generations of the Afro-Brazilian people. People participating form a circle called a Roda. They take turns taking center stage in the middle of the circle singing, playing instruments or sparring. Sparring is the martial arts influence using sweeps, heat butts, kicks and all actions are performed in a fluent motion. There is conflicted opinion whether it is directly descended from African fighting styles or if it is a unique Brazilian dance designed from African and Brazilian influences together.
Brazilian Capoeira can be described as a fighting style designed for rebellion, but is practiced as a façade of dance in disguise. Brazil actually prohibited Capoeira for a longtime and found it criminal and there were severe punishments for those that were caught participating. Despite the laws, it still continued to be practiced by the poorer people on holidays and during free time while they were not working. The practice often caused riots requiring police interference. The ban officially ended in the 1930’s. Brazilian Capoeira is gaining popularity worldwide and there are now schools to learn the technique in many countries.
Music is a strong part of the Brazilian Capoeira. It is the foundation for what style of game is to be played within the circle and can have varied tempos. There are three kinds of songs played. A Ladainha is usually played at the beginning, solo and by the master. It is usually then followed by a Chula and is repeated by the people word for word. Lastly, a Corridos is the song sang while a game is being played. The instruments are played in a row and can consist of stringed percussions, tambourines, a rasp, double gong bell and a Congo like drum.
The people, who make up the Roda, or the circle, keep the energy level high during the game. They are usually about 10 feet in diameter and the people clap and sing to the music. For the participants, the Roda can be an interpretation of the world around them. The Brazilian Capoeira focuses on skill, not injuring the opponent. The idea is to perform the movements without actually striking them to cause harm. The ginga is the main movement used of rocking back and forth. This helps to warm up and prepare the body for other movements. The attacks are generally sweeps and kicks but some use hand strikes. There is attack, defensive and combination moves such as a cartwheel that turns into a blocking kick.
Capoeira consists of two forms being modern or traditional. The traditional form is called the Angol and is more of a dance form. The more modern style is called Regional and brings more fighting aspects of the routine. Whatever form the participants engage in of the Brazilian Capoeira, it is always unique and always entertaining.