Defining Capoeira as an adrenaline packed sport would be simplifying it. The tough part would be to accurately describe exactly what it is. In fact, there are elements of it that incorporate so many different activities that even those so closely involved in it find it difficult to tell you exactly what it is. Capoeira is a martial art, but that is only one element used to describe it since it also includes dance, acrobatics, and music. There are even those who characterize it as a skilled game.
Origins of Capoeira
It is generally accepted that Capoeira started in Brazil during the heyday of slavery when the Portuguese experienced severe labor shortages to work their sugarcane plantations. Even though the slaves brought from Africa and those derived from the local population outnumbered the Portuguese, they were forced to work long hours in inhumane conditions. This situation combined with the fact that the slaves weren’t entitled to have weapons with which to defend themselves, led them to develop Capoeira as a means of survival.
Eventually as times changed slaves and former slaves in Brazil found themselves without jobs or any particular skills, but since they did have their Capoeira skills, they hired themselves out as bodyguards and hitmen. This led the government to outlaw the growing practice. Soon, the police and the military determined that anyone who knew Capoeira enjoyed a distinct advantage in a confrontation, so the practice was eventually outlawed.
Today, Capoeira is considered a major commodity, with masters of the art immigrating to other countries to teach their skills. Though Capoeria is considered an effective means of self-defense, most formal presentations of the art are considered theatrical, acrobatic, with very little martial arts involved. Such demonstrations are common throughout the world. It is also important to note that observing these events is the best way to start participating in the sport, finding fellow enthusiasts as well as instructors.
As a defensive practice, Capoeira employs largely non-resistance and evasive moves instead of punching and kicking. Further, the moves that are often employed, such as cartwheels, are not only considered evasive but are designed to overcome an attack.
The most common form of Capoeira found today is used in a game environment, which simulates a fight. Further, while an event is in play, hand clapping and music follows the moves of the participants, which heightens the excitement for everyone, whether they are participating or just observing.