What is Capoeira? It's an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines movement, acrobatics, music and self-defense. Relatively unknown outside of Brazil just two decades ago, it is now one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world. Not only is it a great way to get in shape and defend yourself, but it comes with a rich history and a musical heritage.Capoeira's Origins in Brazil
Capoeira was created in Brazil during the 17th Century by enslaved Africans, capoeira was initially an effective form of resistence to the enduring institution of slavery. More than half of all Africans brought to the new world on the "middle passage" of the African slave trade ended up in Brazil. Life was harsh, brutal and often short. Escape offered the best hope for survival.The geographic features of Brazil enabled escape from the coastal plantations to free communities in the interior of Brazil called "Quilombos." Here capoeira developed and flourished. It became a weapon to resist recapture and to fight for liberty. Many of the cultural aspects of the "game" of capoeira and the philosophy of deception and misdirection found fertile ground in this era of oppression and resistence.
Capoeira goes underground
In 1888 Brazil became the last nation in the new world to abolish slavery. Yet almost immediately after the abolition of slavery with the founding of the Brazilian Republic, capoeira was outlawed by name. The former enslaved Africans and specifically the capoeiras were criminalized and marginalized. Much of what we know as modern capoeira was developed during this time. Capoeira was hidden in backyards and remote villages where resistence meant the preservation of culture. The musical instruments, formalization of teaching methods, and acrobatics all reflect the cultural norms of the various communities in which they developed. It was during this time as well that Afro-Brazilians such as Mestre Pastinha and Mestre Bimba helped to rescue the art from obsurity. Capoeira was not decriminalized until the 1930's and continued for decades to face discrimination in Brazilian society. In 2014 Capoeira was given "cultural heritage status" by the United Nations in an effort to ensure it is recognized worldwide.
Capoeira spreads around the world
In the 1960's capoeira began to spread around the world as practitioners performed capoeira in shows which captured the imagination of people around the world who had never seen anything similar. In the 1990's capoeira gained further exposure as it was featured in films and video games. Today it is one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world and is largely responsible for the spread of Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. At Capoeira Superação Arts we recognize that capoeira is both an art and a fighting style. The movements and self-defense cannot be seperated from its origins as a resistence to oppression. Today capoeira is no longer a form of violent resistence, but rather as a means for fitness, self-defense, cultural understanding and personal achievement. Together we enjoy the richness of capoeira's long history and share the challenge to inspire the next generation of capoeiristas.