Capoeira is a cultural expression and a type of fight characterized by its agile, acrobatic and harmonious movements, in tune with choreographic aspects. The repertoire covers kicks and pirouettes full of swing, malice and sway, using more of the feet and head than the hands.
Of peculiar timbre, the berimbau is the main instrument used in capoeira. It dictates the pace and the style to play the capoeira by giving a distinctive sound. The instrument basically consists of a piece of wire, a stick and a gourd (hollow fruit of the calabash tree).
The game of capoeira in Brazil emerged as a form of resistance of slaves brought from Africa in colonial times. In addition to being used for physical defense, capoeira was a way to protect the identity of African slaves.
Among the several styles, there are 3 main ones:
• Capoeira Angola – is the oldest, since the days of slavery. Its main features are: blows really close to the floor, slower musical rhythm and plenty of malice. During the circle, participants do not clap.
• Capoeira Regional – Keeps the malice, but the musical rhythm and movements are quicker and dry. Acrobatics are less used. During the circle, participants clap.
• Capoeira Contemporânea – the most practiced today, combining a few characteristics from Capoeira Angola and Regional.
Today the game of capoeira is a heritage of the Brazilian culture and re-presents much of our history. Some Brazilian characteristics are easily identified in the game, like the ability to improvise, creativity and flexibility to adapt. All these adjectives are portrayed in some popular sayings, like “tact” (ability to adapt) and “Paranauê” (featured in a famous capoeira lyrics, referring to person who masters improvisation), both derived from of capoeira.
Bahia is one of the cradles of the game, you can probably watch a capoeira circle in Salvador. Other locations also keep this culture alive. With luck, in a Brazilian beach, you might be able to enjoy the groovy rhythm of the berimbau real close.