Is capoeira a real martial art? Well, not quite. But it can be an excellent workout, with the added benefit of stretching and toning the body. The workout is also generally quite fun and the overall effect is one of physical and mental discipline.

Capoeira was created by three Brazilian women, Irina, Rocha, and Fatima. The name “capoeira” means hand-eye coordination, an apt name for a martial art that involves kicking, juggling, striking, and other acrobatically complex moves. The idea was to create a physical exercise routine that would prepare the user for self-defense applications, specifically as a dancer. At first look, the techniques appear to be haphazard, but anyone familiar with Brazilian dances knows that there are rules and basics to be learned before moving into more elaborate routines.

According to legend, the original capoeiristas were black slaves brought to Brazil by the Spanish in the 16th century. They were trained in the military, then sent to the mines to find gold. Eventually those left behind on the plantations became masters of capoeira and taught their fellow slaves how to perform the dance.

Today the art is most commonly seen in Brazil, but it has taken on a new form in America. Many top fitness centers in the U.S. have incorporated it into their routines because it’s great for weight loss. In addition to helping you lose weight, the conditioning benefits your heart and lungs. The way the moves are arranged requires a lot of strength and coordination, which is why you may hear fitness experts tell you that you’re not using enough muscle when you do capoeira. This is actually very accurate because it emphasizes the use of your body’s muscles in your defense against an opponent.

Many top Capoeirista (capoeiros) in Brazil fight professionally and they’ve said that there are many similarities between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and what they do in self-defense classes. It’s true that some of the techniques used in both sport are similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), but the main thing that separates the two is technique. In capoeira, a fighter will learn basic attacks that have evolved over time, and he will learn what’s called a guard position or what some call the turtle position, which will give him the advantage in a fight. But the real differences between the two are in the application.

In both capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the goal is to dominate the other person by controlling his own body and mind. Both are about learning how to control the fight with your body and mind alone, which are different than controlling your opponent through the use of your hands and feet. Self-defense experts say that capoeiristas have perfected the art of winning by being able to control their opponents through the use of their bodies just like the slaves of Brazil. And if you want to get in shape fast, then the best way to do that is to spend a few hours doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a few hours doing capoeira. The body’s full fusion, which uses all the muscle fibers in your body, combined with the control of the mind and body makes for the perfect fitness program, and as a side benefit, it is a highly effective self-defense tool as well.