Capoeira Information

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves brought from Africa, especially from present day Angola, sometime after the sixteenth century. It was developed in the region of Quilombo dos Palmares, located in the Brazilian state of Alagoas, which was the state of Pernambuco before desmembrement. and has great influence on the Afro-Brazilian generations, with strong presence in the states of Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro. Participants form a roda, or circle, and take turns either playing musical instruments , singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, takedowns, and 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. Historians are divided between those who believe it is a direct descendant of African fighting styles and those who believe it is a uniquely Brazilian dance form distilled from various African and Brazilian influences. One popular explanation holds that it is an African fighting style that was developed in Brazil, as expressed by a proponent named Salvano, 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.

It is likely that the name originated as a derisive term used by slave owners to refer to the displays as chicken fights . Another claim is that the word "capoeira" is derived from the Native-American language Tupi-Guarani words kaá and puéra , meaning "formerly a forest."

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 , 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.

Wikipedia, Capoeira, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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