Thursday, May 3, 2012

Capoeira- Brazilian Martial Art

Capoeira  is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for leg sweeps.
The word capoeira probably comes from Tupi, referring to the areas of low vegetation in the Brazilian interior.

Capoeira nowadays is not only a martial art or a small aspect of Brazilian society, but an active exporter of Brazilian culture all over the world. Since the 1970s masters of the art form began to emigrate and teach capoeira in other countries. Present in many countries in every continent, every year Capoeira attracts to Brazil thousands of foreign students and, often, foreign capoeiristas work hard to learn the official Brazilian language, Portuguese, in an effort to better understand and become part of the art. Renowned Capoeira Masters are often invited to teach abroad or even establish their own schools. Capoeira presentations, normally theatrical, acrobatic and with little martiality, are common sights in the whole world.


In a
 roda every cultural aspect of Capoeira is present, not only the martial side. Aerial acrobatics are common in a presentation roda, while not seen as often in a more serious one. Takedowns, on the other hand, are common in a serious roda but rarely seen in presentations.The Roda (pronounced HOH-dah) is a circle formed by capoeiristas and capoeira musical instruments, where every participant sings the typical songs and claps their hands following the music. Two capoeiristas enter the roda and play the game according to the style required by the musical instruments rhythm. The game finishes when one of the musicians holding a berimbau determine it, when one of the capoeiristas decide to leave or call the end of the game or when another capoeirista interrupts the game to start playing, either with one of the current players or with another capoeirista.

Rhythms or Toques

There are different rhythms (called toques) that are played by the berimbau during the roda that will determine the mood and the game to be played. Some toques were created so capoeiristas could communicate with each other within the roda without having to say a word, like Cavalaria, while others were created to define a style, like Regional de Bimba. Below is a short description of sometoques:
Angola: It is traditionally the first rhythm to be played in a roda. Its rhythm requires Capoeiristas to have a game that is slower and more strategical. Capoeiristas usually play with their hands on the ground for most of the game, displaying strength and equilibrium.
São Bento Grande: Probably the most famous toque. It calls for a lot of energy, acrobatic movements, fast take downs and leg sweeps, making it ideal for energetic presentations.
São Bento Pequeno: This rhythm is played to call an intermediate game between Angola and São Bento Grande. It requires both a high and low stance in the game, preferably in very close distance.
Iúna: Not played very often in rodas, Iúna determines a game where only Mestres and higher graduation capoeiristas can enter the roda, meaning a strong and very technical game. In other traditions,Iúna is a funeral toque.
Cavalaria: This toque carries anxiety and stress. Historically, when Capoeira was still prohibited this toque was used to alert capoeiristas that the police was coming, so they could escape before the practice being discovered. Today it is used to warn players of an imminent danger or disagreement in the game.
Idalina: A relaxed, dominant rhythm where the game is played with razors and knifes. Since the end of Capoeira prohibition, knifes or razors are unlikely to come around the roda, so usually this toqueis played only in some presentations.
Many other toques, like SamangoSanta MariaAmazonasRegional de BimbaBenguela or Miudinho have their own story, meaning and game style.

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