Capoeira is defined as:
a system of physical discipline and movement originating among Brazilian slaves, treated as a martial art and dance form
It is this and so much more.
It is power in the feint; strength in grace. It is community and culture and ultimately a discussion between players.
Since I was first exposed to Capoeira, and I don't know when it was, I wanted my children (who were only ideas at the time) to study it. I found it beautiful, I loved the singing and the music that are inherent in the art and I loved that it involved such incredible core strength. Strength that would serve my then-unrealized children well, no matter what other athletics they decided to practice.
It's All In The Name
Part of being in the Capoeira family is receiving your Capoeira name. It is given to you by your Profesora, or teacher. Sometimes the names are simply because a kid was wearing a shirt with a lizard on it, but my son got his name for his birthday, and it meant the world to him; his name is Força. (four-sah) which means force, or strength. His teachers were able to see his power and call it a positive, something he wasn't thinking or feeling at the time. I can't even tell you how proud he was and is to be Força.
Capoeira was created by the African slaves in Brazil. Slaves were not allowed to practice self defense or martial art, so they disguised Capoeira as dance. The free flowing movements, singing and music were all camouflage as they taught themselves how to fight and defend themselves. Capoeira was brought to the United States in the 1920's by a man named Manuel dos Reis Machado AKA Mestre Bimba and later;
granted a special protected status as "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO in 2014
There are different moves in Capoeira. The most basic is ginga (sounds like Jenga):
The au, (basically a cartwheel)
and the esquiva, an escape or dodge. Forca is doing a Meia-lua de Frente over the Mestre:
Batizado is a graduation, and also a baptism. For your first Batizado, you are welcomed into the community and often given your name at the celebration. Our kids got their names outside of the Batizado but it didn't diminish the importance of the ceremony. It's an amazing event, full of song, music and 'playing' Capoeira. Our girls got their names before the Batizado but much later than Força received his.. they are Bananeira (that's The Me) and Caju:
I'm fascinated by Capoeira and it's history. I'd like to interview the Mestre's and Formando's in our community. If I do, is there anything I should ask? What would you like to know about Capoeira?
Thanks for checking me out!