The History of Capoeira: perserverance and resistance
Capoeira has both Brazilian and African origins. It owes its creation to slaves who came from Angola to Brazil around the 16th century. Slaves were brought together from a multitude of cultures. At night the slaves’ quarters were a melting pot of African dance, song, martial arts, and music. From this mixing arose Capoeira. It combines martial arts with visual dance performance to create a form which displays grace, cunning, and style1.
The game of Capoeira began as a more violent sport. Originally it involved no music and often devolved into fights. Capoeira in this form was an act of defiance. Slaves at the time were banned from openly practicing Capoeira as slave-owners were scared they would become too dangerous to control. The freeing of the slaves, and the work of Capoeira mestres brought Capoeira into mainstream Brazilian culture. The studios of Mestres Pashtina and Bimba are often cited as the places where Capoeira made its leap from a maligned to a celebrated from of expression2.
1. Nestor Capoeira. The Little Capoeira Book. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 94712. Print (5-10).
2. ibid, 13-15.