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Features of Brazilian Capoeira

Features of Brazilian Capoeira


This material is part of a series dedicated to the unique Brazilian martial art:

  1. Resistance of the "Palm State" against Portuguese colonists, the history of Capoeira's emergence in the 17th century
  2. Features of Brazilian Capoeira
  3. Opening of the first Capoeira schools in Brazil
  4. The spread and global recognition of Brazilian Capoeira
  5. Capoeira Martial Arts Section

The art of delivering sharp kicks, putting significant emphasis on the hands, is originally called bananeira, which translates to "planting bananas". Here, the capoeira dances in a low stance, called "ginga," become clear.  Nowadays, the word "ginga" is very popular in many countries around the world. Indeed, thanks to it, people have learned to recognize the ancient Brazilian style.

capoeira danceOriginally, a true capoeirista sought to use sticks, knives, spears, and even the butt of snatched weapons for maneuvers. However, one may wonder if there is special weaponry specifically designed for capoeira, like nunchucks in karate?! - Strangely enough, there is!

If we were to digress, it would be worth noting that it would be better if such weapons did not exist. Imagine a short knife with a concave blade and incredibly sharp! Capoeiristas would hold several of these between the fingers of each foot!  Practicing strikes in such a harsh form made training sessions among slaves very dangerous, where wounds were often inflicted. Perhaps that is why, at the time, capoeira was very effective for escape purposes.

The mental tension in combat was so great that it could be compared to a kind of ritual. Capoeira never took any particular philosophy as its basis; it is a genuine, rough, wild, and dangerous martial art.

A real fight with blood and wild screams was, originally, part of religious ecstasy, trance, if one can put it that way. Slaves did not avoid inflicting wounds, nor did they try to kill each other. Lacerating their chests and shoulders brought them a peculiar pleasure and charged the audience with adrenaline. Each such fight with heightened emotions turned into a semblance of indigenous occult rituals, where blood was offered as a sacrifice. In essence, similar spectacles could even be seen in Russia, where brutal fistfights were held during the Maslenitsa festival, and it was considered normal!

In our time, such entertainments have almost "vanished into thin air". A small handful of adherents to the genuine combat division of capoeira still exists. It is rumored that in the depths of Brazilian villages, real capoeira fights are still held, and in recent decades many tourists have visited those areas in hopes of witnessing the "origins".

Scene from the film "Only the Strong"

In the film industry, capoeira has hardly made an appearance. Stars like Bruce Lee or Van Damme haven't yet shined in this technique. Sometimes, fights involving capoeiristas appear in the most popular works of Brazilian directors, but global cinema has only shown this technique once - in the movie "Bloodsport." There, a "ginga" was performed by a supporting character who managed to defeat a couple of fighters but was ultimately defeated by a wrestler using the "sumo" technique. The outcome is evident here, as the "big man" doesn't fall for the elusive capoeira moves and simply overwhelms the jumper with his size. It is expected that capoeira will still sparkle in movies, if only because it is very spectacular, even in a carnival version.

As a type of sports competition, capoeira has only become noticeable in the last 20 years, although Brazilians have been striving for this since the 1920s.

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