One of the most unique arts in its practice and history, capoeira was brought to the new world by West Africans during the slave trade. The slaves, however, were adamant in keeping their traditional rituals, therefore, they disguised one of the exercises they practiced called the N’golo or Zebra dance by mixing it with new dance movements, martial arts, and music pretending that it was a leisurely activity. Over the centuries it blended with many cultural practices from Africa, Europe, and indigenous aspects of Brazil’s Native American peoples. This new product was capoeira.
Although it has been practice in the U.S. for more than forty years, its display in such movies as "Only the Strong”, “Ocean’s Twelve” and "Meet the Fockers" ( Dustin Hoffman’s comedic attempt at demonstrating it was a laughing riot) has made it a hot item in fitness and dance clubs all over the world.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian dance/martial art involving dance, fighting, acrobatic movements, singing, and playing Afro-Brazilian percussion instruments. It is practiced in a cooperative manner or as a game (Jogo). This game/dance/fight is practiced in a sacred space or circle called (Roda). The participants put on a display of dance and acrobatics. Combatives almost give and take approach resembling a physical dialogue in that each person responds to the others movement; a dynamic game of chess. All techniques are performed with the aid of the Ginga; the ancient earth dance. A physical prayer done in tune with and also to imitate the heartbeat of the planet. The movement is initiated and ended by the mestre (master) of that particular circle or Roda. The action or movements of the practitioners is controlled by the music and produced by the percussion instruments which include but not limited to: tall hand drums (atabaque) , tambourine (pandeira), and one of the main instruments is called the berimbau; a single-string percussion instrument or musical bow from which the mestre controls the intensity of the jogo or game.
As the intensity increases the “ache” or universal life force energies (or chi, prana, mana, nung ,ruack,rainbow fire) increases to palpable pulse of energy for the healing benefit of all gathered around the circle. A healing art, a game, a dance, a struggle and then all at once a liberation.