Capoeira

What is Capoeira?

It is a mixture of body and soul, of dance and fight, of instruments and voices. According to history, Capoeira was created by imported Africans on Brazilian soil. It evolved as a means of expression of the yearning for freedom and simultaneously as a form of entertainment.

Condemned and persecuted, capoeira managed to overcome the preconceptions of the beginning of the century and reach new horizons. It is considered one of the most comprehensive forms of physical conditioning and is an integrated balance of mind, strength, rhythm, poetry, agility, and harmony. It is the maximum expression of liberty and keeps the art of the ancestors alive, being part of Brazilian and now, world history.

A Brief History of Capoeira

The word Capoeira (cáapuêra: of Tupi-Guarani Indian origin) stands for “wild grass”, or “grass that has been cut”.

Capoeira as it is known today began when enslaved Africans created quilombos, hidden free states where runaways, outcasts and fugitives of mixed origin lived communally. Amongst these the most famous was Palmares led by Zumbi, an invicible warrior and strategist, whom according to legend was a capoerista.

Historically the personal guard of the Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro I was formed by capoeiristas, or capoeiras. However, the MARECHAL Deodoro da Fonseca, in 1890, according to the decree by law 487, declared that any capoeira caught practicing the art on the streets would be expelled to the island of Fernando de Noronha (an island in the northeast of Brazil) for a period of six months. In this way, the said decree having temporarily ended the practice of capoeira, it was to rise again nearly 50 years later in 1957 when Manoel dos Reis Machado, or better-known as Mestre Bimba, mounted a presentation for the then President of the Republic, Getúlio Vargas. Enchanted by the game, Dr. Vargas liberated the practice of capoeira that since then went from marginality to being taught in academies in Brazil.

Mestre Bimba created the Regional style, that is identified as the faster, more purposeful and efficient version: capoeira as a fight. The style known as Angola is capoeira in slower form with smooth movements that demand more contact with the ground, and was created by Vicente Ferreira Pastinha or Mestre Pastinha, in Bahia. Nowadays Capoeira is no longer a privilege of Rio de Janeiro or Bahia, practiced in many Brazilian states and, more importantly, the world over.

What is a Batizado?

It is a festival of interaction between masters and students. It is a magical encounter; it is energy; it is culture; it is an exchange of information; it is incredibly emotional. It is an intense moment where mestres, professors, and students of the Escola Brasileira de Capoeira and invitees from Brazil and elsewhere reunite to exchange experiences, knowledge, and wisdom.

As the first encounter of students with invited masters, it is in the context of the batizado that initiates in the art of capoeira receive a nickname by which they will be known within capoeira, including their first cordão(belt). Baptized students also move from one graduation to another according to their practical and theoretical development throughout the year.