HISTORY OF CAPOEIRA

Discussions about the origins of Capoeira are endless. Historians and many others are still trying to find out if Capoeira was a Brazilian or African invention, if it was created by slaves looking for a form of freedom or by the indigenous peoples of Brazil .

 

The word Capoeira (KAPU-ERA) comes from the Tupi-Guarani vocabulary, one of the largest indigenous tribes of Brazil, which is a type of vegetation in which it is possible to hide.

 

Around the sixteenth century, slaves were brought massively to Brazil. They came from countries colonized by the Portuguese like Angola, Congo, Guinea, etc. They arrived in the "slave ships" to grow sugar cane. 

 

The first manifestations of Capoeira took place in "senzalas", places where the slaves lived, to quench their thirst for freedom.

 

Slaves began by disguising the fight with dancing, so the guards would not forbid them from training.  By practicing this form of struggle, the slaves caused many revolts in which they tried to escape. When successful, they organized themselves into "Quilombos", the fugitive slave communities where they continued to practice Capoeira. 

 

It is said that Capoeiristas were recruited to defend Brazil in the Dutch invasion in 1624. But the slaves and Indians took advantage of the confusion they generated to flee into the forest.

 

The best-known "Quilombo" is that of Palmares, whose greatest leader was Zumbi, invincible warrior. The Quilombos were dismantled in Bahia in the war against Paraguay in 1864, while those in Recife were only dismantled around 1912.

 

From 1890 to 1937, the practice of Capoeira was considered a crime in Brazil. The simple practice of Capoeira movement in the street warranted 3 months in jail. 

 

To fight against this negative image of Capoeira, and also inspired by the arrival of Asian martial arts in the world, Manoel Dos Reis Machado -Mestre Bimba- created the "Capoeira Regional". He wanted to create a more sportsmanlike spirit. 

 

In 1953 the government legalized Capoeira, after seeing a demonstration at the palace in which President Getulio Vargas called it the "only truly Brazilian sport."

 

In this way, like all other Afro-Brazilian cultural manifestations, Capoeira came out of marginalization and followed two different paths:

  • Capoeira Angola, oldest, most malicious, whose main representative was Mestre Pastinha.

  • Capoeira Regional, sporty and festive, acrobatic, whose creator was BIMBA Mestre.

 

In 2014, UNESCO voted that Capoeira should be listed as a World Heritage. WE WERE THERE FOR THE CELEBRATORY RODA IN PARIS!

 

 

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