Capoeira

CAPOEIRA… Is it a dance? Is it a game? Is it a fight? Is it all this at the same time? It seems that yes, and it is this what makes capoeira so complex, so rich and so surprising. It is a fight, disguised, masked in “plaything”, game of physical ability, slyness, beauty and much malice!

Capoeira is a manifestation of Brazilian culture which reunites well peculiar characteristics: mixture of fight “game” dance, practiced to the rhythm of musical instruments (berimbau, pandeiro and atabaque), hands clapping and singing. It is extraordinary system of self defend and physical training, set off against the other sportive genres because of its unique Brazilian origins and grounds in their cultural traditions.
According to Francisco Pereira da Silva, researcher of Brazilian folklore, “no other fact related to our popular Brazilian culture stirred up so much and so prolonged debate like Capoeira. Its origins, the origins of the name, the implications on the social order, determined discussions that until recent times stirred up the spirits. Etymologists, anthropologists, folklorists, historians, have participated in the literary fight with their views, testimonies or hunches. Meanwhile the police went by ‘contributing’ with the old argument of chanfalho (old sword) and hooves of the cavalry. ..” (1)
It has a rough history, dotted of cruel and upsetting episodes.  It was persecuted since the beginning, in the cauldron that mixed several ethnic groups that form Brazilian people today, earned fame of bad practice, thing of crooks and idlers, thieves, “validos“.  The persecution lasted up to the decade of 1930, when, thanks mainly to the work of Mestre Bimba – “The Luther of the Capoeira” – and his students, have been inaugurated the phase of actual systematization in the education of capoeira and of its social recognition, as well as of all the other cultural manifestations of African descent.  The name of Mestre Pastinha also stood out in that phase, remaining both – Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha – as the two biggest legends of the capoeira.

They say, today, the wisest masters that it is the equilibrium between the two most important characteristics of one and another – the blast of the pure warrior, by one side, and the poetry of the movement, by another – that every capoeira dancer should find to reach, always!

(1) Francisco Pereira da Silva: Itinerários da capoeira. Monsanto Publisher, 1979

essay writing website