What Is Capoeira?


Brought to Brazil by African slaves, capoeira is a martial art disguised as a dance. Unlike most martial arts, music is part of the discipline. Capoeiristas, combatants, use flexibility, stamina, deception and speed, rather than brute force, to outmaneuver an opponent. Although in its modern form it does not use weapons, in the past, capoeira combatants would attach blades to their ankles or feet.


  • During the jogo, which is the name for a match, two capoeiristas face each surrounded by other participants and a small group of musicians. The fighting is stylized, with the fighters evading attack using acrobatic moves, and high kicks to avoid an opponent's strike. The main targets are the knees, groin, stomach and head. The musicians play traditional rhythms, and sing call-and-response songs. Despite its grace, it is a martial art, and well-placed strikes and kicks can debilitate an opponent.

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