The Brazilian Martial Art, characterized by kicks, acrobatics, dance and music. Shadowbox features ASCAB Capoeira North Bay, taught by Instrutor Palhaço under the guidance of Mestre Doutor.
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|Teens and Adults
Capoeira is a Martial Art from Brazil. It is over 400 years old and was originally developed by the enslaved Africans during the Portuguese colonial era. The African slaves in Brazil, were often permitted to keep or had to covertly hide pieces of their aboriginal cultures. This is why many diverse Afro-Brazilian arts, music and spirituality exist into the present day. Samba, Candomblé, Capoeira, among others, are examples of this phenomenon.
Capoeira was practiced as a means of escape. During rest periods, the slaves would train Martial Arts, disguising it as a dance, and staying out of sight, low to the ground. Eventually escaping to the jungles, the self-liberated slaves found refuge with Native Brazilian tribes.
This gave rise to large villages, or Quilombos, the largest of which was Quilombo dos Palmares, which is said to have had a population of more than 10,000. These Quilombos, were not just refuges for Native Brazilians and escaped slaves, but of many ethnic groups, escaping poverty, Christian extremism, and colonial hardships of all types. Capoeira was influenced by all of these ethnic groups, and was quickly becoming a diverse set of martial art, and survival skills.
Through the 1800’s, Brazil’s urban centers and port cities became commercial hubs. The Quilombos, and Capoeira also, eventually became a threat to the stability and economy of the budding nation. The attacks on the Quilombos increased and they were destroyed. Many practitioners of Capoeira in Brazil were imprisoned. Slavery was abolished and the freed slaves were impoverished. Capoeira became associated with urban criminal practices. As hunger and poverty increased, many desperate people again did what they had to in order to survive, escape, and evade prosecution.
Into the early 1900’s Capoeira remained illegal. Mestre Bimba, a fighter and Capoeira practitioner, or Capoeirista, had a vision for the future of the Martial Art. He grew a student base comprised of the city’s upper class and presented his vision the Brazilian government. In 1940 Capoeira was successfully decriminalized and made officially legal. Mestre Bimba called his style Regional Capoeira. Another master of the era, Mestre Pastinha, in an attempt to pay homage to the original African roots of the Art, coined Capoeira Angola. Regional was created through the bureaucracy that was more related to the oppressors and slave masters, however we wouldn’t have International Capoeira without the creation of Regional. Capoeira Angola was an attempt to stay separate from that system and claimed that Capoeira was a strictly African art. Before either style existed it was only Capoeira, each person lending their own style to the art as a whole and it was influenced by whoever took the time to learn and train.
Today Capoeira is practiced internationally. It is influenced by many martial cultures and movement practices. Traditional Asian Martial Arts, gymnastics, tricking and break dancing are just a few sources of inspiration which are fueling Capoeira’s push into a new era. Capoeira has always been an art of escape, both within the Art itself, where avoiding kicks is used more than blocks, and within it’s history of escape from poverty, criminalization and slavery.