Capoeira for Fun and Fitness

Looking for a martial art for fun and fitness that also combines elements of music and dance? Ever wonder if break dancers were the original innovators of their style of dance or if they were actually building on a more ancient art form? The martial art and dance form known today as Capoeira has its origins in Brazil and if you know anything about Brazilian culture, you should already know it is truly a sensually rich and festive style of grace in motion. You may have seen Capoeira practitioners (known as Capoeiristas) in a movie, or on television, or even played as one in a video game at some point. It is fun to watch and fun most practitioners would likely say it is even more fun to participate.

The exact origins of Capoeira are still debated today, but most tend to agree that it originated from Africans that were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. It is possible that it was based partially on a native game in Brazil, but that is still unverifiable today. It is truly unique in the martial arts world due to its combination of music and dance. Theories generally seem to view the form originating as a way to stay in good shape and train for fighting while under the pretense of a simple game.

The music is an intriguing and wonderful addition to a martial art form and the instruments are almost as unique as Capoeira itself. The “Birimbau” is a long rhythmic string instrument with a gourd on one side which also acts as a small drum. Additionally there is an instrument similar to a tambourine and a drum similar to a conga. The music drives the tempo of the Capoeira game and the dancers play together in various ways based on the music and the lyrics being sung at various points. The Capoeristas must learn to recognize many different songs to ensure they can play the best they can.

The game form generally consists of a circle around which various Capoeristas will stand and clap and so on. The musicians are situated the base of the circle. The game commences with two players acrobatically entering the circle. The players will then essentially attempt to draw their partner into a move by using various stylized kicks and so on. Style is a big aspect of Capoeira and a good Capoeirista is likely going to have a uniquely graceful style that has a spin all its own.

While Capoeira is possibly already as popular as Football (Soccer) in Brazil, it is growing in popularity in other areas of the world. You may want to contact your local martial arts centers for more information on availability of classes and so on. Be aware that Capoeira is a close contact sport. Once you have experienced a Capoeira performance in person you may be surprised at how quickly some of the moves are performed only inches from the other player’s bodies.

Have fun and be safe enjoying the art of Capoeira!