Capoeira is an indigenous Brazilian martial art that combines elements of gymnastics, dance, and music into its routines. It was mostly practiced by slaves in Brazil in the beginning of the 16th Century. However, it is also well-known for its complicated and acrobatic moves, sometimes involving inverted spinning kicks and hanging on to hands on the floor. The first thing you’ll notice when you learn what is capoeira, though, is that the various forms of the art have very little in common, despite their shared origins.
Unlike most forms of martial arts that focus mainly on one style or the other, what you will learn about what is capoeira will be both diverse and deep and will therefore benefit your overall physical capabilities. While the majority of the fighting is centered around the legs, the ability to execute quick movements, combinations, and escapes are what make capoeira such a fun and challenging activity. One thing that does stand out about the sport is the physical coordination required from both the attacker and the defender.
Capoeira also includes many different styles of movements. These include what is commonly called the “Gang.” This type of movement involves turns from the hips, twists, turns, jumping, and stepping back from the waist. Another movement, called the “Collar,” involves arcing the shoulder and swinging the arm away from the defender. The most basic of all Capoeira movements involves stepping sideways with the left foot and stepping back with the right, stepping back to turn to the side, stepping back again, stepping to the side with the left foot, stepping back again, and turning to the other direction.
Capoeira also includes what is called the “Hook.” This movement involves running diagonally across the top of one’s opponent in order to attack. Another movement, called the “Spinning Death” involves an imaginary ball being tossed to one side by the attacker and catching it as it spins along the floor. A variation of the “hook” involves throwing the imaginary ball over one’s head, then reeling in the body and lifting the person who had been hit with the ball. All of these movements help Capoeira practitioners learn how to fight and win the hand to hand combat.
One of the most important things that distinguishes capoeiristas (people who perform capoeira) from regular acrobats is their training. During the course of their capoeira training, capoeirists must learn the basic techniques of freestyle dancing and be able to perform a wide range of basic acrobatic moves. Some people compare capoeiristas to tango dancers because they also train in freestyle and have a large repertoire of high-impact moves. However, the difference between a tango dancer and a capoeira dancer is that a tango dancer is able to choreograph a complex series of movements while a capoeira dancer must rely on only two moves, which are the kick and the grab. It is also important for a tango dancer to be able to move gracefully through the different levels of a set of steps without slipping or tumbling. A capoeira practitioner must also be agile and fast, both of which are qualities that most regular fitness and sports athletes have.
What is capoeira to many will be nothing more than a series of seemingly effortless moves, but anyone who has ever seen a real capoeira performance will tell you that it is much more than that. Capoeira puts people into an almost dreamlike state, as the dancer exerts incredible effort and courage to do seemingly mundane tasks. This is why Capoeira has become such a popular workout program and is gaining in popularity even in the United States, where most people would consider it just a children’s sport. Even though it may not be very popular in the United States, it is still a far cry from being considered something of a cult, as the numbers of people who have taken up capoeira as a workout routine is steadily growing.