“Capoeira é para homem, menino e mulher, só não aprende quem não quer.”
(Capoeira is for men, women and children; the only ones who don’t learn it are those who don’t wish to)
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance,acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century.
It is instantly recognisable from its musicality and the movements of the performers, as they seem to move together and then suddenly attack each other, still keeping in time with the rhythm. However despite its rising popularity, the exact origins of the art have been lost in history due to a scarcity of historical evidence and the secretive nature of its beginnings.
It has been suggested that capoeira was first created during the 16th century by slaves who were taken from West Africa to Brazil by the Portuguese colonists. Prohibited from celebrating their cultural customs and strictly forbidden from practicing any martial arts, capoeira is thought to have emerged as a way to bypass these two imposing laws. Hidden in the musical and rhythmical elements of the form, violent kicks were disgusted as passionate dance movements, and its combination of a mixture of West African cultures saved it from being identified as an attempt to preserve any specific tradition. As such, capoeira came to life as a survival tool, not only of self-defence, but also of cultural identity.