About Capoeira


Capoeira was developed as a form of self-defence by the African people in Brasil in the 18th Century. Capoeira incorporated diverse elements of African culture including dance, music, acrobatics and various fighting forms. This style of fighting, disguised as dance, has always been based on the principle of surprise and improvisation.
The African people who were enslaved by the Portuguese, were forced to create an effective and unknown fighting form both as a means of defence and a way to free them from slavery. Once free, the African Brazilian people formed hidden communities called Quilombos in the deep forest of the north-east of Brasil. There they were able to develop the fighting skill which today we call Capoeira.
Capoeira has evolved directly as part of Brazilian culture and history. From the Quilombos to the streets of Salvador, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Capoeira thrived as an expression of life and resistance.
The survival, evolution and subsequent development of Capoeira around the world was the result of the work of numerous dedicated masters – in the past and present.

Capoeira Music

Music is an essential part of Capoeira tradition. Combining singing with percussion, Capoeira music provides energy and rhythm to the game. Tales are told through songs sung in Portuguese, which convey Brazilian history and the history of Capoeira.

Capoeira songs tell stories based on the every day life of Capoeiristas. This is an important oral story telling tradition as it informs new Capoeira learners of past Capoeira developments – important description of the life of older players which often isn’t captured nor included in history books.

Capoeira songs convey a range of emotions: sad songs, funny, ironic, wise and informative to the player. Capoeira music is used to involve all the participants in the Roda with an enchanting and captivating rhythm. At the London School of Capoeira we use the eight traditional instruments: three different size berimbaus, two pandeiros, one reco reco, one agogo and one atabaque.

Each instrument has a set position in the orchestra of the Roda which is called “Bateria”. The main instrument, the berimbau (a one string instrument with the shape of a bow) is played by the most senior person present at a Roda.

All the other instruments are complimentary to the berimbau. The tempo is set by the master berimbau and the person who holds it will also lead the singing. The first type of song sung in the Roda is a solo called a ladainha (lament). When a master is singing a ladainha, the first Capoeiristas to play enter the circle and listen to the song in a squatting position at the Pé do Berimbau (foot of the berimbau).

Once the master finish singing the ladainha, the next type of song, called corrido, is sung with the participation of the chorus. The players then take it in turns to enter the circle and play.

1. “Capoeira Self Defence” by Instructor Anthony Early Sources say that Capoeira developed from the combat techniques/games of Angolan
warriors who were enslaved after becoming prisoners of war, and then transported to Brazil around the end of the 16th century. READ MORE
2. “Capoeira Roda” by senior student Simon Fliegner Roda means “Wheel” in Portuguese (pronounced hoda). In capoeira the
Roda is the space where the game of Capoeira takes place. It is formed by the people taking part in the action of Capoeira. The word is also used to describe the whole event that takes place in this space, incorporating the many different aspects of Capoeira. READ MORE
3. “Why has Capoeira had such appeal to the world of Contemporary Arts and Media?” By Contra Mestre Agnes Folkestad Until the 1970s Capoeira was rarely experienced outside of Brazil, but in the last decades one experienced an explosive development of travelling practitioners of Brazilian art, capoeira and music, with performing groups such as Brazil Tropical, Olodum and others. READ MORE
4. “Capoeira Music” by Instructor Rachael Lewsley What are the songs about? READ MORE
5. “Short Capoeira History” by Contra Mestre Gerard Taylor Capoeira, as a historical study, is often divided into three distinct eras. These consist of a) the slavery period, b) the underground period and c) the “Academy” period. “Modern Capoeira” is customarily said to have begun with the “Academy Period”.
This is reckoned to have begun in the late 1930s, when Mestre Bimba received a
Government license to teach the previously illegal art form in an indoor academy which
he called the Centro de Cultura Física de Regional Baiano. READ MORE