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Capoeira

 

Date of Origin:16th Century

Country of Origin: Brazil

Technique: Bare Feet and Hands

"When you strike a martelo, kick to break your own foot; when you throw a galopante, punch to break your hand; and when you throw someone with the head to the floor, do it to make a big hole in the cement." -- Mestre Bimba 

Capoeira is an African system of unarmed combat created by African slaves in Brazil. They developed the movements of ritual dance that evolved into techniques of self-defense. Capoeira consists of a stylized dance, practiced in a circle called the "roda," with sound background provided by percussion instruments and the "Berimbau" which is a non-percussion instrument that is always used. It is still set to music today and an emphasis is placed on personal expression. 

Founders of Capoeira had no freedom and could be bound and chained, so they relied heavily on leg techniques and leg kicks for attacks and dodges for defense. Capoeira also puts a heavy emphasis on ground fighting, but not grappling and locks. It is common to not be taught any kind of hand strike of parry. However, hand positioning is important as it's used to block attacks and ensure balance. Street fighting Capoeiristas do use their hands for punches. 

Defense is supplied mostly by evasion and not by blocking, again because techniques were limited by the amount of physical freedom the practitioner had. An intelligent Capoeirist could seem helpless while at the same time be quite capable of a devastating attack. 

Capoeira conditions and develops the muscles, especially the abs. Flexibility and agility are important when practicing Capoeira. After a through warm-up, standing exercises are done, with emphasis on the footwork characteristic of the art, and on the basic kicks. Then walking sequences are done, with the introduction of summersaults, back flips and headstands. Technical training follows, with the whole class later getting together for a "roda."