Capoeira in Salvador
For anyone who's never been to Brazil or is unsure what Capoeira is, read on to learn about one of the most revolutionary and inspiring martial art/dance sports your likely to come across.
Capoeira and its origins
Capoeira was started in the seventeenth century during the slave trade by the imprisoned slaves themselves. Coming from Angola on the African west coast, people were forced from there homes and sent to the north coast of Brazil (where Salvador is today) to work on various plantation. Capoeira was established as a way of practising martial arts but making the actions look like those of a dance to onlooking plantation owners.
By using Capoeira a number of the people enslaved, grew strong enough to rise up against their captors and escape.
The term 'Afro-Brazilians' refers to the african people who came to settle in Northern Brazil after the slave trade was abolished. With a unique blend of both African and Brazilian cultures, Capoeira became a defining characteristic of North Afro-Brazilian culture.
As Capoeira originated in this area, today Salvador celebrates the martial art/dance in every sphere of the city. From street 'fights' to international competitions that see the best Capoeira fighters around the world compete for the ultimate title.
Even in the nightclubs in and around Salvador you will see the locals strutting their capoeira skills in a very break dance sort of fashion.
Music, dance, and love
Although Capoeira is a very effective martial art, there is so much more that make it a great and life teaching practice.
Music is an essential part of Capoeira and no training class or Roda (fighting circle) goes without it. Along with a huge bare skin drum, bells and the berimbau are played by the group in turns accompanied by singing, which of course is in porteguese. The tempo of the music also dictates the speed to which the 2 capoeira players fight.
Altogether this creates a very tribal and warrior sound that is the perfect for gearing you up for training or a fight.
The Roda and 'fighting'
The Roda (pronounced 'Hoda' in Brazil) is the name given when a group of people come together in a circle and practise capoeira together. Athough some of the more professional fighters may make contact with each other, most people when they practice or 'fight' don't make contact.
With the music, singing and excited crowd - just watching Capoeira is a wonder in itself. People practise hard to synchronise their movements with each other in a call response technique, whilst demonstrating some amazing capoeira moves and startling acrobatic stances.
Give it a go!
Witnessing two talented capoeira fighters is truly a feast for the senses and one I recommend to anyone passing through Salvador or North Brazil.
Many of the best capoeira training schools are located in and around Salvador. They take on international students and welcome complete beginners to come and give Capoeira a go.
Photo by Andre Praxedes on flickr
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