What is Capoeira? It's an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines movement, acrobatics, music and self-defense. Relatively unknown outside of Brazil just two decades ago, it is now one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world. Not only is it a great way to get in shape and defend yourself, but it comes with a rich history and a musical heritage.

Capoeira's Origins in Brazil

Capoeira was created in Brazil during the 17th Century by enslaved Africans, capoeira was initially an effective form of resistence to the enduring institution of slavery. More than half of all Africans brought to the new world on the "middle passage" of the African slave trade ended up in Brazil. Life was harsh, brutal and often short. Escape offered the best hope for survival.The geographic features of Brazil enabled escape from the coastal plantations to free communities in the interior of Brazil called "Quilombos." Here capoeira developed and flourished. It became a weapon to resist recapture and to fight for liberty. Many of the cultural aspects of the "game" of capoeira and the philosophy of deception and misdirection found fertile ground in this era of oppression and resistence.

Capoeira goes underground

In 1888 Brazil became the last nation to abolish slavery. But soon after capoeira was outlawed and its practitioners criminalized and marginalized. Much of what we know as modern capoeira was developed during this time. The musical instruments, formalization of teaching methods, and acrobatics all reflecting the cultural norms of the various communities in which they developed. Capoeira was not decriminalized until the 1930's and continued for decades to face discrimination in Brazilian society.

Capoeira spreads around the world

In the 1960's capoeira began to spread around the world as practitioners performed capoeira in shows which captured the imagination of people around the world who had never seen anything similar. In the 1990's capoeira gained further exposure as it was featured, often poorly, in films and video games. Today it is one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world and is largely responsible for the spread of Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. At Capoeira Superação we recognize that capoeira is both an art and a fighting style. The movements and self-defense cannot be seperated from its origins as a resistence to oppression. Today capoeira is no longer used in combat, but rather as a means for fitness, self-defense, cultural understanding and personal achievement. Together we enjoy the richness of capoeira's long history and share the challenge to inspire the next generation of capoeiristas.

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