Capoeira is a comparatively different martial art from other martial arts such as judo, aikido, karate or taekwondo. This is not only due to the training, but also to the techniques of capoeira. In this martial art, rivals dodge each other instead of using punches, kicks, throws or leverage techniques. They also motivate each other with a special music.

In the following article we present background information about martial arts.

First things first:

  • Capoeira involves neither punches nor kicks it is the well-known Brazilian “fight dance”
  • Music plays a central role in Capoeira.
  • Soft and flowing movements strengthen the physical and mental fitness of the capoeiristas.
  • The exercises take place in a circle.

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What is Capoeira?

Capoeira combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music with fighting movements. It is known for its fast and complex movements that often involve ground work and inversions.

In capoeira, two players communicate with each other by moving in a “roda,” or circle, of other participants who provide the music and chants. Players respond to each other’s movements, often in a way that seems more like a dance than a fight. It is important to note, however, that despite its dance-like appearance, capoeira is actually a martial art and the movements are quite potentially offensive and defensive.

History of Capoeira & today

According to written accounts, Capoeira has existed since the 16th century. The origin of this exotic martial art is represented by different African folk dances. Meanwhile, two different styles of capoeira dominate. The first style is called Capoeira Angola. The second style is called Capoeira Regional. The first Angola style is the older version of this specific martial art. Capoeira Regional, on the other hand, enjoys the reputation of the modern capoeira.

Numerous texts indicate that abducted slaves from Africa developed this martial art. These are the slaves of Brazil. The term capoeira symbolizes a small bird. It functions as the name of this martial art because the male bird is not at all afraid of his opponents. The male bird bravely engages in fierce battles with his fellow fighters.

  • Capoeira is composed of three elements. They are called fight, music and circle. The latter is also known as roda. This is the Portuguese name for a circle. Martial artists who practice capoeira call themselves capoeiristas. They form a circle around the two fighters who compete against each other.
  • The advantage of fighting in capoeira is its spontaneity. This results in an interesting interplay of action and reaction
  • Capoeira, unlike other martial arts such as karate, kickboxing or taekwondo, does not pursue the goal of hitting the rival. Instead, capoeiristas predominantly dodge their partner’s attacks. Furthermore, there are no levers or blocking elements in the fight. The movements are fluid and soft.
  • Just as in Judo the fall school is a necessary condition for learning the martial art, in Capoeira the music acts as an elementary component of this martial art
  • Berimbau is the name of the most important musical instrument of capoeira. It is a musical bow. However, it only works with a metal string and a wooden stick. A hollowed-out pumpkin serves as the sounding body. Rattles and drums are also used.

Meanwhile Capoeira enjoys an international spread. There are different schools. However, they differ in terms of training and styles. The approach of Mestre Bimba plays an important role in Capoeira Regional, in Capoeira Angola, however, the methods of Mestre Pastinha dominate. He focused on traditional movements. The Regional variation also teaches capoeiristas elements from the Angola style. Worldwide, another style has gained acceptance. Its name is Capoeira Contemporânea.

Special features of Capoeira

Malícia is the name of an important Special feature of Capoeira. This training component represents the soul of the popular martial art. Furthermore, capoeira fighting techniques are different in Compared to the throws, levers, punches or kicks of numerous other martial arts Martial arts.

The Portuguese term Malícia translates as “viciousness” as well as “slyness“. In the Brazilian language, however, the term has no negative connotation. “Cunningof war” or “craftiness” act as equivalent terms for malícia in Brazilian. Snakes serve as an example to illustrate war cunning. They wait in their hiding place to eat their chosen prey without any resistance.

One of the characteristic moves of Capoeira is the “Ginga“, a basic step that is the central element of the Capoeira movement. Other well-known movements are the “Martelo” (hammer), “Queixada” (jaw), “Meia-lua de compasso” (half moon of the compass), “Armada” (armed) and the “Au” (similar to a wheel).

Difference to other martial arts?

Capoeiristas aim to give their rivals the opposite impression of their skills convey. In a fight, capoeiristas hide how strong they really are they are. They conceal both their mental and physical strength. Students and teachers pursued the goal of looking like weaklings. With this This tactic makes it easier for them to win fights.

Thanks to the Malicía tactics, participants cannot predict the end of a fight. In other martial arts such as judo, karate, aikido, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu Jiu-Jitsu, physical endurance, technique and experience play an important role Experience also plays an important role. In Capoeira on the other hand the tactical Overview of the fight.

A small number of masters use techniques. However, they do not apply them without malícia. In Capoeira Regional, on the other hand, “shrewdness” plays a minor role. This is due to the speed and a short duration of the game. Meanwhile, tension and dynamics make up an essential part of the fights. In the style called Capoeira Angola, however, Malícia still plays the main role.

Rules in Capoeira

There are important rules in Capoeira. They are composed of the following three rules. The mentioned rules have an international validity. It is not allowed to change, vary or even question them. They act as a safety factor. Moreover, they support the philosophy of this martial art.

  • The normative rules include the active game compliance between two players within the circle. The goal is to throw the rival. However, the rival must not be injured in any way. Punches and kicks are strictly forbidden. In addition, capoeiristas are always ready to defend themselves. Furthermore, no fight takes place without the accompaniment of music.
  • Pragmatic rules act as a guide to the game. In capoeira, the fight results from the movement. Among other things, the rules include purposefully dodging attacks. In addition, fighters increase their free space by skillfully limiting the scope of their rival. Besides, the pragmatic rules prescribe permanent movement. In addition, a regular smile is part of the pragmatic rules.
  • Mestre Bimba wanted with his rules, capoeristas to live a life of caution. He advised his students to give up smoking in order to preserve their health. Furthermore, he advised them not to sit with their backs to a street. Further, the students, should not stay in dark streets. He also advocated discipline by not tolerating talking during training. He encouraged capoeiristas to practice the basic exercises daily.

Dance & Music in Capoeira

Berimbau, Atabaque as well as Pandeiro determine the music and rhythm in Capoeira. Numerous rhythms can be found in the circle called roda. In the Campoeira Angola a slow rhythm dominates. However, the musicality is greater. Furthermore, the participants do not clap in this style. Among the other rhythms, that are called toque include:

  • São Bento Grande de Angola
  • São Bento Grande de Bimba
  • Benguela
  • São Bento Pequeno
  • Luna

In the roda the berimbau player plays a central role. He sets the rhythm. Before the fight begins, the two chosen capoeiristas sit down for a moment in front of the instruments In front of the instruments for a moment. They look into each other’s eyes, shake hands and begin the and start the fight in a circle with a wheel. They are surrounded by the other Participants.


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Capoeira equipment

Capoeira Regional belongs to the few variants that graduation is practiced with the help of belts practiced. The respective belt indicates the degree of the capoeirista. To the next level, the capoeirista proves over time to be able to cope with the ever Time to be able to cope with the ever-increasing requirements. These include:

  • performing in a circle with one or even more teachers
  • Mastering capoeira music
  • Perform acrobatic movements, dodging and attacking techniques

Is capoeira suitable for self-defense?

In terms of self-defense, Capoeira is less suitable than Krav Maga, for example

This is due to the techniques that the different capoeira styles involve. It is mainly about dodging. The fight is not stopped when the opponent is unable to fight. However, other sports such as Jiu-Jitsu or Judo aim to use levers to make the competitor give up.


Update: 2023-05-28 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API