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A SHORT HISTORICAL
INTRODUCTION TO
CAPOEIRA




NOWADAYS, it is thought that slaves from Angola,
who were first brought to Brazil in the 16th century,
developed Capoeira as a self-defense technique.

Basing themselves on traditional African dances and rituals,
these slaves practiced Capoeira in the work free hours
left to them, thus training both mind and body
for combat situations. As the slave-masters forbade
any kind of martial art, it was cloaked in the guise
of an innocent-looking recreational dance.
In the 17th century escaped-slaves founded
a number of "quilombos" (hidden slave-governed territories),
in which the Art of Capoeira was further perfected.

The inhabitants of Palmares, the largest of the quilombos,
fought a decade-long war againsttheir colonial oppressors.
Capoeira was used not only in direct combat, it also inspired
the battle strategy itself; feigning retreat, thus luring the
over-confident enemy into remote territories only to strike back
at an unsuspecting place and time.


Master Pastinha's photoMaster Bimba's photo

     Mestre Pastinha                    Mestre Bimba


The official prohibition of Capoeira remained
even after slavery was abolished in 1888.
It was nevertheless practiced by the poorer population
on public hollidays, during work-free hours and similar occasions.
Riots, caused also by police interference, were common.
Persecution and punishment were almost successful in eradicating
Capoeira from the "streets" of Brazil by the 1920's.

In spite of the ban, Master Bimba and Master Pastinha
founded the first Capoeira schools in Salvador, Bahia.
Master Bimba created a new style, the "Capoeira Regional"
(as opposed to the tratditional "Capoeira Angola")
by incorporating new moves and techniques and was
finally successful in convincing the authorities of the cultural
value of Capoeira, thus ending the official ban in the 1930's.


Cds with Capoeira music we recommend:

The Little Capoeira Book

Capoeira Angola from Salvador, Brasil

Academia de Capoeira de Angola S.J.I.U.

Capoeira Cordão de Ouro

Capoeira, Samba de Roda, Maculele - Vicente Pastinha


Books about Capoeira we recommend:

Capoeira: History, Philosophy and Pratice

Capoeira: A Martial Art and a Cultural Tradition


Also visit

Women      Afro Brazilian Connection      Images of Brazilian Music      20 Exemplary cases      Postcards from Bahia


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