Capoeira Punches and Hand Strikes

Some believe that the hands aren’t used to attack in capoeira.


There are numerous capoeira punches and hand strikes used to catch an opponent off guard and show them how exposed they are.

These movements are used especially when players get up close and personal, perfect for arm range.

Below are a few of the common ones I’ve seen...

Galopante (Galo-pon-che)

The galopante is a handstrike using the open palm of the player. It looks like a slap, but it uses the shoulder and upper body to provide the force making it a strong strike. In the right hands it can be used to knock someone out.

Cutelo (Cu-che-lo)

Cutelo literally means knife or blade. This attack uses the edge of the hand and arm in a karate chop like movement. It is also used defensively to block attacks like a martelo.

Asfixiante (A-fix-ante)

This is simply a straight punch. I personally haven’t seen it used during training or in a roda.

Godeme (Go-de-me)

The godeme is a strike with the back of the hand. The arm is swung back towards the opponent to strike their head. The name came from Mestre Bimba after using the move on a person who responded with a “God Damn!”


This movement uses both hands to slap both sides of an opponent’s head. It is aimed at the ears to disrupt and catch the other player off guard. I imagine this probably doesn’t feel so good when you get it...


The dederia is an attack using two fingers (index and middle) to poke the eyes of the other person. When I’ve seen it, it’s a fake used to show the opponent that they’re leaving their face open and need to guard more.

Hopefully you now know there are capoeira punches to be on the lookout for. Make sure to keep your guard up in the roda or you may find yourself on the receiving end of one!

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