What is Capoeira?

Movements are only part of what is capoeiraThis is the number one question I get when talk to people about capoeira...

What is Capoeira?

It’s been a challenge for me to answer it. I can’t easily label it one thing or another since it’s made of so many unique parts. These parts come together to form an art unlike anything I’ve seen in the world.

The best I can do here, and with this site as a whole, is explain the different elements that I’ve experienced and leave it up to you to decide what is capoeira.

The first element I experienced is essential to capoeira...

Martial Art

When a people first see or hear about capoeira, a lot of times they dismiss it as dancing or a choreographed performance.

I know, I did the same thing at first!

What they’re not seeing is the fight and training behind it. The capoeira roda was designed to purposely disguise the martial art training. To really understand this, you have to learn the history of capoeira.

Being a martial art, capoeira not only trains the body, it also trains the mind and spirit. Can you sense what move your opponent is going to respond with? Can you set your opponent up for a vulnerable position? This is a key element of the mind in capoeira that you improve along with your body.

All these make great reasons to train capoeira. However capoeira isn’t geared specifically towards personal defense and handling physically threatening situations. It definitely helps, but I would suggest learning self defense techniques designed for these situations. Self Defense for Women is a great resource for this, men and women alike.

Capoeira however, goes much deeper than just being a martial art. Another key element is the culture and traditions it carries...

Culture and Tradition

Another answer to ‘What is Capoeira?’ is that it’s a form of traditions and culture that’s passed on. Capoeira was created with a mix of different influences. The Africans, Portuguese and the Brazilian natives all contributed to it.

The capoeira roda itself reflects a lot of the tradition within capoeira. Also simple looking actions like the capoeira volta a mundo hold a lot of significance and tradition that isn’t obvious at first.

In this way capoeira serves to pass down and preserve the culture in which it was created. When experiencing capoeira, you’ll learn a lot about Brazilian culture, even the Portuguese language. If you look at a glossary of capoeira terms, you’ll see how the culture and language is taught through capoeira.

In addition to being a tool for passing down tradition, capoeira itself is an art with various expressions...


An art is another way to respond to 'What is capoeira?'

Just hearing the music and songs within capoeira, it’s easy to see the art involved. There are numerous rhythms played by each instrument as you can see in the bateria capoeira, or the line up of its instruments. Each one adds its special part to the whole of capoeira.

There are also a lot of unique songs within capoeira. More are constantly being created, even today. As a form of musical art, capoeira is alive and continually growing.

These elements that I’ve experienced are only a fraction of getting close to answering “What is Capoeira?” Everyday I learn and experience more which only deepens my respect and awe of capoeira. To answer it for yourself, you have to Start Playing Capoeira and experience it!

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