What is Capoeira?

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. Developed in Brazil at the beginning of the 16th century.  Sometimes referred to as a martial art, sometimes a dance, and sometimes even a game, Capoeira is a unique phenomenon which has caught the world’s attention.

Origins of Capoeira.

It has been suggested that capoeira was first created during the 16th century by slaves who were taken from West Africa to Brazil by the Portuguese colonists. Capoeira came to life as a survival tool, not only of self-defense, but also of cultural identity. Many claim that capoeira is normally accompanied by music because it had to be disguised as a dance in order to fool the slave owners. These dance moves actually concealed potentially fatal punches and kicks.


Styles of Capoeria.

There are two main Capoeira styles – Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional. All Capoeira styles are played within a ring of people called Roda.  The roda is a circle formed by capoeiristas and capoeira musical instruments, where every participant sings the typical songs and claps their hands following the music. The style of roda will define the speed of capoeira dance. It can be fast or slow depending on the berimbau rhythm. This instrument is considered as the leading one for the musical style, tempo and game.

Capoeira Angola is the base, traditional style of Capoeira. Capoeira Angola is mainly played in slow and smooth motion, low to the ground. It is characterized with low kicks, head butts and dodges.

Capoeira Regional is the other style of Capoeira. It is much faster and aggressive than Capoeira Angola and the players are often using head kicks and strikes, jumping and spinning movements.

Fight scenes including Capoeria Style Fighting: Video Source

Capoeria & MMA

Many Brazilian mixed martial arts fighters have a capoeira background, either training often or having tried it before. Some of them include : Anderson Silva, who is a yellow belt, trained in capoeira at a young age. Thiago Santos, an active UFC middleweight contender who trained in capoeira for 8 years.  Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos, who trained in capoeira as a child and incorporates its kicking techniques and movement into his stand up. UFC fighter Conor McGregor, who has implemented aspects of capoeira into his fighting style.