Capoeira – The Martial Art Concealed in a Dance
Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art combining elements of dance, acrobatics and music, steadily gains worldwide recognition. Its spirit came to life at the AUBG campus and gave the students a chance to acquire first-hand experience.
The demonstration took place on Monday, Nov. 23 in the ABF Student Center Sports Hall. It consisted of a short historic background of the martial art, followed by a display of some basic moves and techniques.
Capoeira derives its origins from the African slaves in Brazil. It was developed as a way of protection against Portuguese colonists. As part of their culture, the concept was such that if a slave escaped, he would have a chance to survive unequipped in the hostile environment. Hence, Capoeira’s main philosophy emphasizes on the belief that if there is an obstacle, one has to “get around” it, rather than trying to outfight it.
One of the most distinctive traits of the style is the music incorporated in it. Formed by instruments and singing, the music has a special rhythm that sets both the style and the speed. There are several instruments used in Capoeira – the berimbau, a musical bow of African origin, the pandeiro, a type of tambourine, the ababaque, a tall hand drum, the agogo, which literally means bell, and the reco-reco, a side-cut notched bamboo that makes sounds when a stick is rubbed back and forth over the grooves.
As in most martial arts, Capoeira has defensive and offensive techniques. The main defensive move is called esquiva, which translates to “to dodge”, “to escape” and has several variations – esquiva de lado, a dodge to the side, esquiva de brente, a dodge forward, and esquiva diagonal, a diagonal escape.
The main attack moves concentrate on ending with a kick. Some examples are quexada, armada, martelo, and meia lua de compaso. They include spins, fakes, and acrobatics movements. The most important part, however, is to wait for the exact moment to strike.
The place where the martial art, the music, the dancing, and the acrobatics unify, where everything comes together in a cultural plethora, is the roda. This is a circle, formed by those who practice Capoeira, in which two capoeiristas enter and perform all sorts of techniques while everybody claps and sings. It is a kind of a game that exhibits all that Capoeira can offer.