Capoeira & BATIZADO
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Maculele Dance
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There are two main styles of capoeira that are clearly distinct. One is called Angola, which is characterized by slow, low play with particular attention to the rituals and tradition of capoeira. The other style is Regional (pronounced 'heh-jeeh-oh-nahl'), known for its fluid acrobatic play, where technique and strategy are the key points Ancestor Mestres are very revered in Capoeria and all students know much about two in particular.  Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha.
Mestre Bimba
Mestre Bimba  the innovator of the Regional style, was born in 1899.

He fused Capoeira Primitiva, of which he had been regarded a Master since 1918 at the age of 18, with Batuque and created Luta Regional Baiana (Capoeira Regional).At 18, Bimba felt that Capoeira had lost all its efficiency as a martial art and resistance, becoming a folkloric activity, reduced to nine movements. It was then that Bimba started to retrieve movements from the original Capoeira fights and added movements from another African fight called Batuque - a vicious grappling type of martial art that he learned from his father (of which his father was a champion), as well as introducing movements created by himself. This was the beginning of the development of Capoeira Regional.

 He opened the first registered academy of Capoeira in 1930.  In 1932 in Salvador, Mestre Bimba (Manuel dos Reis Machado) opened the first Capoeira academy. The nationalistic policies of the Getulio Vargas government gave official recognition in 1937, bringing the practice to a central level of Brazilian identity. In 1942 he established his academy at Rua Francisco Muniz Barreto #1 in the Central Maciel district of Salvador,  Capoeira Regional.
Mestre Bimba once declared that he had created the most complete type of fight, "it is good for the body and good for the mind."
Mestre Bimba was planning to give a Capoeira demonstration on the day he died, February 5, 1974.

Mestre Pastinha

At the age of 21, he left school to become a professional painter. During his spare time he would practice his capoeira stealthily, since it was still illegal at that time. In 1941,  following a Sunday roda at "ladeira do Gengibirra" located at bairro da Liberdade,  the greatest master of Bahia at the time, mestre Amorzinho, asked Pastinha to take over his capoeira school. As a result, in 1942 Pastinha found the first Angola school, the "Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola", located at the Pelourinho of Salvador.

For the first time, Capoeira began to be taught and practiced openly in a formal setting. He became known as the "Philosopher of Capoeira" because of his many aphorisms.
Eventually Pastinha's capoeira academy fell on hard times. Pastinha, old, sick and almost totally blind, was asked by the government to vacate his building for renovations. But the space was never returned to him. Instead it became a restaurant with entertainment. Pastinha died broke and bitter about his treatment, but never regretted living the life of a capoeirista. The final years of his life were sad. Blind and almost abandoned he lived in a small room until his death in 1981 at the age of ninety-two
"What is capoeira?
Capoeira is music, poetry, celebration, joking with another, entertainment and above all, it is a popular uprising against all physical, mental, economical, cultural and psychological oppressions.

"It is a fight, it is folklore, it is a divine practice. Its practice has so many benefits that we cannot distinguish them and define exactly what is capoeira. There are so many beautiful things: the music, the friendship, the health, the fight, the folklore. Capoeira is immense and we cannot explain it all. Some people think of capoeira only as fight, or as confrontation without perceiving that it has so much more to offer beside the quarrels for the name of the group or the title of mestre. I think of it more in the general sense of human participation: in the music, in the folklore, in the joy. I was to a school recently and there were people from different groups all playing together in the roda. That's capoeira for me "alegria" and to be happy to do what you are doing."
-- Mestre Suassuna

Capoeira is a martial art integrated with dance, ritual, and gravity defying acrobatics. It is marked by deft, tricky movements often played on the ground or completely inverted. It is always played with music.  Capoeira balances the body, soul and mind. It is a graceful and exciting art form that teaches you to be alert. Capoeira is both a dance and a fight which asks you also engage your mind in learning its music, culture, history and knowledge.

While it is fascinating to watch for the intricacy of the steps, the velocity of strike and evasion, and the beauty of acrobatics, capoeira is also an important repository of tradition, spirituality, and wisdom. The master passes to the student not only the dodging defenses, swift attacks, and wily feints of the game, but also the world of music, the rituals of respect, and the accumulated insight offlag generations of capoeira masters.

In recent years capoeira has exploded out of Brazil and continues to grow in popularity. Classes are taught by mestres (masters) in nearly 90 countries. It has also proven to be among the most successful of paths available for restoring troubled youths to a path of wholeness as contributing members of the community.

If you join a Capoeira Regional group, you eventually have a chance to take part in a batizado, a baptism into the art of capoeira.

More than a martial art or dance, capoeira is often considered a way of life by those who practice it.

At the baptism, the masters give every initiate a apelido [nickname] made for a specific reason as well as a corda [a cord belt, conferring rank,]

Batizado literally means "baptism"; besides being an initiation rite for new students it is also a graduation ceremony for advanced students and a great capoeira community celebration with masters from near and far are invited and the fraternity of capoeira is measurably strengthened by the camaraderie and interplay.

These ceremonies are a great chance to see a variety of different capoeira styles, to watch mestres play, and to see  participants play and perform their best after much perseverance and preparation. When they are open to the public, it's a great chance for outsiders to learn about the art or simply be entertained by the artistry and beauty of the art form.

Capoeira is usually done inside a circle of people called a "roda", pronouced HO-DUH. The people in the circle are usually other capoeiristas waiting to "play", and observers. Player or not you are expected to give energy to the roda by clapping and singing in response to the person "in charge" of the roda.

A roda will usually commence with a ladainha (litany), often sung by the most senior member present. These songs may be improvised on the spot, but are often famous songs written by an earlier mestre and sung in Portuguese. After the ladainha has been sung, the same singer will usually sing the chulas, which are usually made up of any of the lines listed in the chulas section below but, again, may be improvised on the spot. The chorus repeats each line of the chula after it has been sung. Finally, corridos will be sung while the game is playing. In most rodas anyone can sing a corrido, though most often they will be sung by the members of the group playing instruments, the bateria.

Players enter the game from the pe'da roda (foot of the circle), usually with a cartwheel (au). Once in the circle the two players interact with a series of jumps, kicks, flips, hand and headstands and other ritualistic moves. Games can be friendly or dangerous.

Maculele Dance
Maculele: (pronounced ma-k?-lay-lay) "the dance of the sticks"  It is agreed that Maculele was created by enslaved Africans working on the sugar cane plantations. The sticks used in the dance resemble stalks of sugar cane, and the "Facao" or machete often used in the dance is the tool used to cut sugar cane.

Maculele is similar to some dances of the indigenous people of Brazil. There may have been some mixing of African and indigenous cultures to create the movements of maculele, however the music and songs are mostly African, (sung in Yoruba) and Portuguese.

Maculele is most closely tied to the city Santo Amaro in the interior of the Brazilian state of Bahia. There is a story about Mestre Po-Po in Santo Amaro that says he began to use movements of the dance in the streets, clapping hands with a friend in order to get the attention of young women that were passing by. In the early 1900's, Mestre Po-Po revived and refined the dance of Maculele, and, by his act of
forming a folkloric dance company, this dance form became known throughout Brazil and beyond.

This is a warrior dance, which has been adopted by capoeira schools because of its similar Afro-Brazilian roots. There are similar dances in Africa and even the first conqueror of the known world, Alexander the Great watched his troops perform a similar dance called Korbantes  In Maculel? and the rituals of Candombl?, as many as three atabaques are used (usually one of each type), but in Capoeira, traditionally only one is used

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art with over 400 years of history. Developed initially by African slaves in Brazil,  it is the only indigenous martial art of the Americas.

The homogenization of the African people under the oppression of slavery was the catalyst for capoeira. Capoeira was developed by the slaves of Brazil as a way to resist their oppressors, secretly practice their art, transmit their culture, and lift their spirits. Some historians believe that the indigenous peoples of Brazil also played an important role in the development of capoeira.

The techniques of fighting that it incorporates were developed in the 16th and 17th centuries as a means of protection by the slaves from their owners. It was consequently banned, and became hidden in a dance; practiced within a circle of onlookers and musicians using percussive and stringed instruments.

With the signing of the Golden Law in 1888, which abolished slavery, the slaves moved to the cities of Brazil, and with no employment to be found, many joined or formed criminal gangs. They continued to practice capoeira, and it became associated with anti-government or criminal activities. Capoeira found itself outlawed by the first constitution of the Brazilian Republic in 1892.

The punishment for practicing it was extreme (practioners could have the tendons on the back of their feet cut), and the police were vicious in their attempt to stamp out the art. Capoeira continued to be practiced, but it moved further underground. Rodas were often held in areas with plenty of escape routes, and a special rhythm called cavalaria were added to the music to warn players that the police were coming. To avoid being persecuted, capoeira practitioners (capoeiristas) also gave themselves an apelido or nicknames, often more than one. This made it much harder for the police to discover their true identities. This tradition continues to this day. When a person is baptized into Capoeira at the batizado ceremony, they may be given their apelido.

In 1937, Mestre Bimba was invited to demonstrate his art in front of the president. After this performance, he was given permission to open the first capoeira school in Brazil. Since that time, capoeira has been officially recognized as a national sport, and has spread around the world. Mestre Bimba's systematization and teaching of capoeira made a tremendous contribution to the capoeira community.

Mestre Pastinha & Jorge Amado

In 1942, Mestre Pastinha opened the first Capoeira Angola school, the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola, located in Bahia. He had his students wear black pants and yellow t-shirts, the same color of the "Ypiranga Futebol Clube," his favorite soccer team. Most Angola schools since then follow in this tradition, having their students wear yellow capoeira t-shirts.

Capoeira has its roots in the West African culture that was brought to Brazil through African slaves. It is a point of debate as to whether Capoeira came to Brazil fully formed, or was the product of a synthesis of different African cultural traditions within Brazil. It developed mainly in three places: Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and the state of Bahia. While in the first two places, Capoeira was violent, and had no music, in Bahia it became more of a ritualized game, with a strong musical element. This is the style that is today referred to as Capoeira Angola, a term originally coined by Mestre Pastinha in an attempt to differentiate it from Capoeira Regional, which was created by Mestre Bimba in the 1930's.

Together, Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha are generally seen as the fathers of modern Capoeira Regional and Capoeira Angola respectively.

For more information on capoeira, try Bira Almeida's book Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form: History, Philosophy, and Practice (1986. Berkeley, California; North Atlantic Books). Discover over 1800 schools in 90 countries and one near you.

capoeira.comCAPOEIRA.COM The largest Capoeira community on the internet
with over 30,000 registered Capoeiristas  as interactive as possible so you can all share your knowledge and add your comments. Long-time leader of spreading the gospel of capoeira through the power of the internet

Berimbau, a stringed bow-like instrument from Angola, is today the primary instrument used.
pandeiro (tambourine),[pan-DEH-ruh]
The agog? (double cowbell),


Ah-tah-bah-keh) is a tall, wooden, Afro-Brazilian hand drum. The shell is made traditionally of Jacaranda wood from Brazil. The head is traditionally made from calfskin.
Each instrument, when played correctly, contributes to the energy in the roda, but the Berimbau is the commanding instrument. The berimbau starts and stops the roda, and all the other instruments follow it's rhythm and tempo.
The most important thing in Capoeira  music is creating a good positive energy, which is affectionately referred to as [[Ax?]] or Energia

14 Basic Movements
animated at

"Where did Capoeira come from?"

It is widely accepted that capoeira began as a way to disguise a martial art as a dance from the authorities but there are other unproven theories which have become part of the the story of capoeira which until recently was based upon an oral tradition.
Girl's Initiation Dance:
The Mucupes in the South of Angola had an initiation ritual (efundula) for when girls became woman, on which occasion the young warriors engaged in the N'golo, or "dance of the zebras," a warrior's fight-dance. According to this theory, the N'golo was Capoeira itself. This theory has not been widely accepted but the African roots are without dispute and it could easily be one of several dances that contributed to the creation of early Capoeira.

Here is a link to the most famous women's initiation preserved for 2000 years in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. Capoeira illustrates how initiation is still relevant in the 21st century.

 legendary leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares

Dutch invasions of Brazil between 1624-1630 caused temporary disorganization in the farms and sugar mills of Brazil. For the slaves, these invasions brought an opportunity for escape. Taking advantage of the nearby forests, they hid themselves and formed communities that would become known as Quilombos. They were organized politically and socially like African tribal societies. The leader of the Quilombos was a king called "Gunga-Zumba", later shortened to "Zumbi". This king was a great general, who became famous because of his defensive skills and numerous victories against the Portuguese.

When the Dutch were expelled from Brazil the slave owners send out armed expeditions to recapture the fugitives and destroy the Quilombos. Without a substantial amount of weapons, the ex-slaves realized they would have to defend themselves with their hands (and feet!). They created a style of self-defense that would stand against weapons and firearms. This style of fighting was called "Capoeira de Angola"; capoeiras were the name of the brushwoods where the fugitives entrenched themselves and it was believed that the first group of slaves who arrived in Brazil were from Angola.

Rio vs. Salvador-Bahia
In Rio de Janiero, capoeira had developed  as a form of fighting, criminal gangs who added knives and guns to their already potent arsenal were created that terrorized the population. Meanwhile in Bahia  Capoeira continued to develop into a ritual-dance-fight-game, with the berimbau becoming an indispensable instrument used to lead the rodas. Bahia is considered the cradle, birthplace, and world capital of Capoeira

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