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CAPOEIRA

Introduçtion (see below)

Capoeira Angola (click on the text on the left to go to the page)

Capoeira Regional (click on the text on the left to go to the page)

Capoeira is a very popular expression of black culture and identity in Bahia. It is a mixture of martial art and dance, of music and the philosophy of struggle for life. It was created, centuries ago, by the slaves as a form of personal defence, as a weapon against oppression.

The true origin of Capoeira - or at least that which is most accepted - is an African ritual called N'golo that marked passage into adult life. In this ritual, a tribe's young warriors disputed its young women, with movements based on those of fighting zebras, and it was deemed upon he who excelled the right to choose his wife among the young women, without the payment of a dowry. The African slaves realized that the zebras' movements, when used with speed, dexterity, and cunning were potentially fatal for the opponent. In the face of their difficult situation as slaves and the violence imposed upon them, they began, whenever possible, to teach this fighting form in the plantations "capoeiras". The capoeiras were spots in the sugar plantations, in which the slaves were forced to work, where wild undergrowth was burned for farming or some other end.

Capoeira, as a martial art, was, in that era, the only weapon that blacks had against the guns of the plantation owners during their escape to the quilombos, communities where escaped slaves lived organized and in freedom. After the abolition of slavery, left to their own destinies, the former slaves were even more in need of this form of self-defence, and in this way, it became a symbol of black resistance against white oppression.

 

Capoeira round

A century ago, men, young and elderly, gathered in various parts of Salvador, in squares and streets, to form large Capoeira rodas. The roda is the typical form in which to practice capoeira, where various people form a circle, in the middle of which two people fight. This public demonstration of Capoeira greatly troubled and worried the republican government that in 1889 associated Capoeira with criminal activity. Because of this, capoeiristas were persecuted and once again oppressed.

Today, different styles of Capoeira exist, and all of them have in common a martial art accompanied by music and singing. The instrument that is the symbol of Capoeira is the "berimbau", made with a wooden stick, a gourd, and a metal wire. Many black people, but also many white people, men and women, children, youths and elderly practice Capoeira today as a form of struggle, dance and cultural expression, resistance and even as a way of life.

Among these different styles of Capoeira stand out Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional.