Capoeira is a beautiful martial art that originated in Brazil during the African slave trade in the 1500s. The combination of African traditions mixed with the Brazilian influences made this quite the deadly yet aesthetically pleasing art style. The basis of Capoeira works on deception. When you look at the attacks, it’s always about not knowing the next move due to the momentum and the interesting angles of attacks.
The slaves would practice Capoeira and disguise the deadly intent with the dance/rhythmic aspect. Also, they would make sure there was absolutely no contact between people. This way if any of the slave masters were around, it looked like harmless dancing. What looked like a game was actually a fight to the death. Times got rough during the end of slavery because a lot of Capoeira practitioners were becoming bodyguards and trainers to drug lords. This gave an unfair advantage fighting wise to the authorities so Capoeira was outlawed for a while. During the 1970s, Capoeira reemerged and only continues to grow as a worldwide phenomenon.
Here are 8 basic and advanced moves you can use in Capoeira:
This is the foundation of Capoeira. Ginga is the movement used to set up strikes, evades, blocks, and other tactics by the fighter. There is angola and regional based Capoeira that has differences in style. Angola is more free and style based; regional is more straight up and defensive. Ginga is great because you are in a constant state of momentum that makes it easier for practitioners to perform but deceptive enough so opponents won’t have an easy target. The combination of torque, arm, and leg movement makes it a great tactic.
This works as a few different tactics. One, it can be used as an evasion. For example, if someone is using a high kick, you can do a negativa to duck and set up a move. Two, it’s an easy move to add to your ginga for a top to bottom move. Three, you can use it as a type of low block or parry to help you create a take down or set up for another move. This is a good tutorial to show you how effective varying movements help in your fighting.
3. Queda de Rins
As a b-boy (break dancer), this closely resembles a baby or turtle freeze. The strength lies in your core more so than your arms because you are finding the right place to stab your elbows in your side and stick your legs up. This might require a bit more time to practice because you need good core strength and balance to keep you from flipping or falling over. In the beginning, you may want to use your head for better stability. This is a more advanced stall to use when you are playing Capoeira.
This is a sort of flip used from the negativa position. This is a great way to mix things up and it looks great when you do this with your partner. To gain momentum, you use a good sweep to help you build a bit of speed and you elevate your hips to get in the air. Once you are in the air, use your arm and shoulder strength to flip you over. This is a more advanced tactic so it may take some days or weeks to master the move. This move is good foundation to learn how the ground sweep helps you build momentum and guide you in the air.
5. Chapeu de Couro
This is a very powerful kick done from the ginga. It’s important to have a great level of control when doing this because you can easily kick someone when you are playing Capoeira or even get too much momentum and lose your balance. I’ve seen this move done many times as great way to build torque to set up flips. Besides Capoeira, I’ve seen this done in tricking and parkour. It’s a great move one should learn.
This is a great defense move especially when your adversary is high and you are low to the ground. One thing to note is to make sure your forearm is covering your face because someone can easily knee you to your face. The vingativa is great for closing the gap and finding an opening to get your opponent off balance to set up a strike or take down. This is a straight forward and useful move in Capoeira.
7. Rabo de Arraia
When you see Capoeira in movies or video games, this is one of the most common moves shown. You basically use the ginga to pivot your footing from side to side to build momentum. From that point, you use the torque from your hip (left or right) to swing which kicking leg you’ll end up making your point of direction for attack. There is another move called Meia Lua de Compasso which is similar but you use your hands for balance. This is a great offensive move to use in your Capoeira.
8. Piao de Mao/ Au Giratoria
This is one of the most advanced moves/combinations in Capoeira that combines balance, torque, and a bit of arm strength. The spinning portion is know as a pirouette in gymnastics and a 1990 in b-boying. These all look slightly different but it’s based out of the handstand. Before you attempt this move, please get comfortable with your handstand balance. You can create your entry from the au giratoria and go into a piao de mao. You can also use a sweep from the negativa and go into a piao de mao. Either way is perfectly fine. While you are in a handstand, get your balance and find a way to whip your legs in a single direction. Use the ball of your dominant hand to spin.
Capoeira has a very rich history that continues to grow today. A lot of people say that b-boying came from Capoeira, but I will say that these are moves manifested in a different time. B-boying is a dance while Capoeira is a combative style with a rhythmic base. That’s another debate for a different time. With more XMA and tricking styles becoming mainstream, I can only see Capoeira getting bigger and the respect it deserves as a true martial art.