The story of Capoeira
The roots of Capoeira
The roots of Capoeira stem
from the 16th century when Africans from Angola, Guinea and Nigeria
were taken prisoner by Portuguese colonialists and shipped to
Brazil where they suffered the hardships of life-long slavery,
family division and torture. At the first available opportunity,
many slaves escaped to the nearby forests and glades called "Capoeira".
There they founded concealed
settlements: the "Quilombos" - self-administered territories,
an embodiment of hope and a symbol of freedom for all those suppressed.
Mestre Leo (l.), Mestre João
Pequeno Whites and indigenous Indians also lived and fought there.
With the aim of freeing other slaves forced to perform manual
labour on the sugar cane plantations for the wealth and profit
of the "Senhor", these Quilombos settlements developed
- in secret - a very effective fighting technique: CAPOEIRA.
Forced to fight for their
survival unarmed, they learned to use their bodies as a weapon.
Their African rituals and dances not only served them as a model
to develop techniques, but also made it possible to disguise such
warrior movements as a dance form. Under the guidance of their
legendary leader "Zumbi", the Quilombos managed to carry
out a successful guerrilla war against the superior armed Portuguese
The period of persecution
Capoeira long remained prohibited
after the official abolition of slavery in the year 1888. Thereafter,
the poorer social strata practised it in their free time, on state
holidays or at similar opportunities. In doing so, there were
often confrontations with the police who would intervene in such
occasions. The systematic persecution and punishment of Capoeira
almost brought about the disappearance of this dance from the
streets of Brazil in the 1920's.
Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha,
however, disregarded the prohibition and founded the first Capoeira
Schools in Salvador da Bahia. Mestre Bimba developed a new style
with innovative movement sequences and techniques which is named
"Capoeira Regional", as opposed to the traditional school
of "Capoeira Angola". Mestre Bimba finally managed to
convince the state authorities of the cultural significance of
Capoeira, which ultimately led to the termination of the official
prohibition in the 1930's.