Categorized as: capoeira

CAPOEIRA HISTORY

Questions of Capoeira’s origins create controversy. Since it is from a time that pre-dates audio-video technology, and with few written records, much of our current understanding comes from legend and lore. So, one’s beliefs about Capoeira’s genesis can only be a matter of perspective, and is in fact part of the game itself. Despite the many controversies, most agree th

at Capoeira is a Brazilian-born art form derived from African ritualistic and martial arts traditions. The intermingling of groups such as the Yoruba, Ashanti, Mandinka and Imbangala in oppressive conditions gave rise to game now played around the world.

Capoeira is a child of the ma’afa or “great tragedy”. Between 1500 and the early 1900s, millions of West and Central Africans were captured and sold into slavery. Taken from their homes and suffering months at sea with little or no food, the survivors arrived in North and South American ports, only to be put to work on sugar cane, rice, tobacco and/or coffee plantations. In Brazil in particular, the enslaved were subject to inhuman living and working conditions. As to make communication and revolt difficult, enslaved people were separated from those with whom they shared a native tongue. Capoeira manifested, and grew as an art, during the rare moments the enslaved were permitted leisure and community. In those times, traditional African elements of music, dance, combat and play were fused in contest, celebration and remembrance.

Brazil’s rich history reveals that Capoeira’s appearance varied over time, and manifested in distinct ways in different regions. In the 1600s, a rudimentary form of Capoeira was used in defence of the quilombos: well populated forest compounds established by escaped slaves. In Rio de Janeiro, there are accounts of Capoeira as early as 1770. However, northeast Brazil is generally considered Capoeira’s home: the two most influential Capoeiristas, Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha, hail from that region. They each technically refined and legitimised Capoeria. For, even off the plantation or away from the quilombo, the art form was considered degenerate and criminal.

In 1888, the Lei Aurea (Golden Law) was passed. It granted “freedom” to the enslaved, in soc

ial practice however, little really changed. There was not much work available and, generally, newly “free” people were neither economically independent nor socially accepted by Euro-Brazilians. Many former slaves had little choice but to work on plantations in exchange for room and board. Not only did they fall into the country’s lowest socio-economic bracket, their cultural e

xpressions and practices were held up to contempt. The most scorned expression was Capoeira. In 1890, it was outlawed, and for decades after capoeiristas were hunted, beaten, imprisoned and even killed. Yet, because of their infamy and combat expertise capoeiristas were feared and respected. In major cities, like Rio de Janeiro, they were hired by politicians and organised crime alike.

In the 1920s, Manoel dos reis Machado (known to capoeristas everywhere as Mestre Bimba) brought capoeira from the streets into mainstream society. He developed the “Luta regional bahia” (or “Regional” -Hey-jo-nal-) a style that incorporated moves and training techniques from other martial arts and instituted a belt or cordero system, and a set of learning sequences. In 1937, he became the first person in Brazil legally permitted to teach Capoeira. In 1942, Vincent Ferreira Pastinha, (Mestre Pastinha) opened the Centro “Esportivo de Capoeira Angola” in Pelorinho. His game, marked by its slow, controlled movements, inspired a style now called “Angola”.

The next most notable change was effected by the Senzala group. Comprised of 3 brothers and 2 friends not affiliated with a school, these five trained intensely – pushing each other to their limits. In the 60s, they took the movement to new heights and spawned countless mestres; many of whom in turn started their own groups. In the 1970’s, mestres travelled to the U.S. and Europe for shows. Some stayed to teach. Capoeira’s most recent evolution has produced Benguela: most easily described as a game that meets Regional and Angola half way. It is very strategic; played quite close to the floor and emphasizes trickery and misdirection. In a mere decade, Benguela has become extremely popular. It owes th

is success, in part, to Capoeira’s now international roots.

Once the recreation of Brazilian plantation workers, the game has grown an

d evolved inside and outside of its country of origin. Today, there are few countries in the world without a Capoeira school: students in places like Indonesia, France and Australia learn and adapt the art. Through its songs, rhythms and myth, Capoeira takes its history with it where ever it travels. This history keeps it in conversation with the universal themes of liberation, wisdom and joy, and in an embrace with the highest aspirations of the human spirit.

 

THE MUSIC OF CAPOEIRA

Many cultures use Music and Song to tell their histories, to teach morals and to inspire their people.

The rhythms and music of Capoeira ranges in tempo from the very slow sounds of Angola to very fast rhythms of Sao Bento Grande de Bimba (regional). Each rhythm denotes a different style of Jogo (game) and alters the priorities of the players. Some rhythms call for a slower more strategic type of game in which controlling your opponents ability to manoeuvre is most important.  Other rhythms beckon players to be more acrobatic and less confrontational; while other rhythms demand a faster more martial game.

The songs mostly fall into 4 main categories and usually progress in a particular order during the roda depending on the type of capoeira being played.

Ladainha

Mostly sung by Angola schools a ladainha Is a solo usually sung by the most senior capoeirista present. A Ladainha can vary in length and subject matter, but are almost always metaphorical and include a moral lesson, story, history or mythology. They can be improvised to suit a particular occasion or structured like perfect poetry.

In an Angola roda the songs generally appear in this order:

Ladainha, louvação, corridos and quadras (corridos and quadras are mostly mixed together with no real differentiation between them.)

In a Regional roda the songs would generally appear in this order:

One quadra, louvação (if at all) corridos and quadras (again corridos and quadras are mostly mixed together with no real differentiation between them.)

In most rodas the Players will not begin to play until the crowd has responded to the soloists songs by singing the answers to the louvação or the corro (Chorus) to a corrido or quadra

 

Batteria

The collection of instruments used in a capoeira roda are knows as the batteria. Although Mestre Bimba would run his rodas with only 1 Berimbau and 2 pandeiros, the batteria usually consists of:

The Berimbau

A berimbau is a single stringed instrument that looks similar to an archery bow. The berimbau utilizes a hollow gourd to resonate the vibrations created by tapping the string (arame) with a stick (baqueta). Variations in the sound are created by applying different levels of pressure to the string with a stone or coin (pedra or dobrao).  A shaker (caixixi) is also held in the stick hand to add another layer or richness to the sound produced. Traditionally 3 berimbaus are played: the Gunga, Medio and Viola. These produce a deep, medium and sharp sound respectively; the variations in tone are created by the size of the gourd from the large gunga that produces a deep sound to the small high pitched viola.

The Berimbau is “in charge” of the roda and its rhythms and changes dictate the type of game that is to be played,

The Pandeiro

The pandeiro is basically a tambourine with a skin. It is held and moved in one hand and played with the other. Playing the pandeiro involves using a set rhythm of slaps, thumb strikes, finger taps and shakes.

The atabaque

The atabaque is a conga-like drum that is a very common instrumental component to a roda. Its skin is secured to the drum with rope and a metal ring wedges are driven between the ring and the drum to tighten the skin and tune the drum. It is played with a variety of Hand strikes in a number of percussive rhythms.

The Agogo

A double cow bell. Not always present at modern rodas but adds a richness and tonality to the music. It is held in one hand and a short stick is held in the other. The different sized bell make 2 basic sounds and they are hit in percussive patterns.

The Reco reco

a piece of wood with ridges carved in it. It is held in one hand and is played by running a stick across and back. Predominantly used at Angola rodas

 

 

 

CAPOEIRA RODA

The Roda (pronounced HOH-dah) is a circle formed by capoeiristas and capoeira musical
instruments, where every participant sings the typical songs and claps their hands following the
music. Two capoeiristas enter the roda and play the game according to the style required by the rhythm of the musical instruments. The game finishes when one of the musicians holding a berimbaudetermine it, when one of the capoeiristas decide to leave or call the end of the game or when
another capoeirista interrupts the game to start playing, either with one of the current players or with
another capoeirista.
The game of Capoeira takes place in a circle known as the “Roda”, which is created by students,
participants and onlookers of the game. The roda is not only considered a microcosm that reflects
the macrocosm of life and the world around us but also defines the physical space where the game
is to be played. The entry point to the roda is marked by the berimbau or berimbaus, which may be
accompanied by other instruments such as the atabaque and pandeiro.
The people in the circle formation clap their hands to the beat of the music and sing Capoeira songs
while players who want to buy into the game must crouch at the foot of the berimbau before entering
the roda. Opponents should greet each other by briefly gripping each other’s hands and await the
response of the chorus before initiating play. The pace of the game is decided by the pace of the
music as directed by the berimbau. In case another player wishes to buy the game, they must get
the master of roda’s permission before they can initiate play with another player. In respect of one’s
comrades and the teacher (or Mestre), one should await the end of the roda before leaving.

CAPOEIRA BATIZADO

Most Martial arts schools hold regular Gradings in order to evaluate, rank and Reward their students. In a not too dissimilar fashion Capoeira schools hold Annual Batizado Festivals.

A Batizado festival is a celebration of one’s training, an acknowledgement of the individual’s improvement and personal achievement over the Year. There is no formal evaluation during
the festival as the students progress has been monitored by the instructors and mestres over the whole year.

The word “Batizado” literally translates to “baptism” (into the art of Capoeira). It is a rite of passage in which new students to the art are initiated by playing a game or 2 with a visiting instructor or master and given their first Corda (rope/belt). Older students will participate in a “Troca de Corda” (Change of rope/belts) where they are individually awarded with higher ranking cordas after playing with some of the visiting masters.

As students progress higher through the ranks of capoeira, they will be required to stay for longer periods of time on their corda. A first degree Mestre will spend 10 years as a Mestre
before being evaluated for his next corda.

Batizado festivals generally run over a few days, it is the major event of the year with a number of instructors and Masters from near and far being invited to attend. Students participate in a variety of Workshops and demonstrations held in the days leading up to the actual batizado day when Parents, Friends and Families are invited to come and watch.

These events are a great opportunity to see a variety of different styles and interpretations of capoeira, to watch the professional play and witness some of the best of the game. The batizado isn't just a time of individual grading, but is also a festival to celebrate the progress of our group “Sinha Bahia de Capoeira”. Every passing batizado signifies our continuous improvement as a group, growing in strength, numbers and ability.

Naturally, some students will advance quicker and further than others. No two students are alike and when a student is evaluated, that student will be evaluated on a broad range of subjects relating to his/her capoeira skit, knowledge and education, not purely by the time the student has spent in training.

CAPOEIRA GLOSSARY

The following is a list of Capoeira terms and definitions. We use these terms in class for students to get more involved in to Brazilian culture.

  • Abada – Capoeira Pants
  • Agogo – Two tone bell instrument
  • Angoleiro – Person who practices the angola style of capoeira
  • Apellido – Nickname given to students by their mentor. Originally used for anonymity
  • Atabaque – Brazilian Drum
  • Aviso – A berimbau beat
  • Bamba – a tough guy; capoeira expert; expert in physical sparring as well as wordplay
  • Bater – To beat
  • Batizado – Literally meaning baptism, batizado is an initiation ceremony of capoeira
  • Batuque – A music and African Game that was once popular in Brazil. Players stand in a circle; one player stands in the center in a defensive position, and another moves around him, suddenly attacking. The attacking player tries to throw the defending player to the ground with blows from his legs. Mestre Bimba’s father was said to be a champion Batuque player.
  • Beriba – Wood used to make a Berimbau.
  • Capoeira Angola – Traditional style of capoeira lower to the ground and usually played slower
  • Cintura desprezada – A sequence created by Mestre Bimba full of throws and flips. Its practice is intended to acclimate the practitioner to falling, landing and throwing.
  • Corridos – Songs with a call and response
  • Gunga – Berimbau with largest cabaça, It makes the deepest pitch and is in charge of the base rhythm and tempo. It is usually played by the most senior ranked capoeiristas present.
  • Martello – Literally meaning hammer
  • Saida – Exit
  • Santo – Saint
  • Sem – Without
  • Tocar – To touch, to play an instrument.
  • Verga – The bowed beriba wood of the Berimbau
  • Volta Ao Mundo – Literally ” Around the world” refers to the circling of the roda by both of the players inside the roda. Usually done when a player or players are tired or to “start over” or “change the conversation.”
  • Academia – Capoeira school or venue
  • Aluno – Student
  • Angola – Traditional style of capoeira lower to the ground and usually played slower
  • Arame – Wire used as the single string on the berimbau
  • Au – Cartwheel
  • Axe – good energy; capoeira energy; life force
  • Baqueta – Stick used for playing the berimbau, by striking the arame. Also Sticks for Batucada and some times used to describe a Maculele stick (Grima)
  • Bateria – A line of instruments. Either in a capoeira roda or a batucada group
  • Batucada – Is the World famous Brazilian drumming. Where teams of percussionists play rhythms using 3 kinds of drums( Repinique, Surdo and Caixa) , cowbells and shakers.
  • Berimbau – Lead instrument in capoeira. Instrument made of bowed wood, a wire as the single string and a gourd as a resonator.
  • Cabaça – The gourd on a berimbau used as the instrument’s resonating box.
  • Capoeira Regional – A style of capoeira associated with Mestre Bimba. Faster and more upright
  • Corpo fechado – When a Candomble ritual is performed to magically protect the subject from harm they are said to have corpo Fechado (Closed body).
  • Fundamentos – Fundamentals
  • Jogo – game
  • Quilombo – When the African slaves escaped their oppressors they would come together in villages built deep into the forests where the Portuguese would not be able to find them. These villages were known as Quilombos
  • Samba – A popular Brazilian dance and rhythm
  • São – Saint (possessive)
  • Roda – Circle of people in which capoeira is played
  • Toque – Rhythm
  • Viola – A berimbau with a small cabaça; it creates a higher pitch.
  • Zumbi – Legend has it, that Zumbi was the greatest leader of the most famous Quilombo in Brazil’s history. Often referred to as King Zumbi

CAPOEIRA STYLES

The Game of Capoeira is played to the rhythms of the Berimbau. The Different rhythms tell the Capoeirista (Player) what style of game to play. With that in mind modern capoeira is usually classified into two main Systems; Angola and Regional  (hey-joh-nal), Modern Angola and Modern Regional have evolved greatly from the original forms of capoeira described in the oldest texts, Paintings and drawings that document the origins and existence of capoeira as far back as the 1600s  in the early 1900’s however 2 Famous Capoeiristas are considered to be the fathers of each style. Mestre Pastinha with Angola and Mestre Bimba with his ‘Luta Regional Baiana’ (regional fight of Bahia) later know soley as Regional:

Sinha Bahia Capoeira Canada focuses mainly on Capoeira Regional in its modern form, also teaching Benguala (a newer adaptation of mestre Bimbas Banguela) once students have learnt to play regional safely. Its students are encouraged to understand all Styles of modern capoeira over time and are eventually expected to learn the rituals and nuances associated with the Capoeira Angola System.

CAPOEIRA ANGOLA

Capoeira Angola is considered to be the more dance-like system of capoeira.  Angola is often characterized as being slower and lower to the ground. although in actual practice, the speed varies in accordance with the music. Capoeira Angola is also known for the chamada (sha-maa-da), a physical call-and-response where players break the pace of the game and move together forwards and backward before reinitiating the game. This is a particularly treacherous moment of the game because although the action seems to have halted, the game is still on and the strategy of misdirection is often used as a means of catching ones opponent off guard with a sneaky kick or head butt.anything can happen used to challenge an opponent or to change the style in the roda.

The father of the best known modern Capoeira Angola schools is considered to be Mestre Pastinha who lived in Salvador, Bahia. He is considered to be the “Father of Capoeira Angola” bringing this style of Capoeira into the modern setting of an academy.

CAPOEIRA REGIONAL

Capoeira Regional was developed by Manoel dos Reis Machado (Mestre Bimba) in the early 1900s. Mestre Bimba combined the traditional Capoeira with Batuque (an African fighting style his father practiced)  and transformed Capoeira to a more upright and combative system. He started the first Capoeira Academy in Salvadore da Bahia and worked to give capoeira a better image as the public opinion at the time was that capoeira was associated with the criminal elements of Brazil. The Capoeira Regional System is known for its faster and more athletic play than Capoeira Angola.

Modern regional came to be developed by other people and groups over the past 90 years and has evolved considerably since those days Though Mestre Bimba is widely regarded as the man who started it all.

MACULELÊ

Santo Amaro City in Recôncavo, city marked by green cane fields, is a land rich in manifestations of popular culture with African heritage. Cradle of capoeira in Bahia, was also the stage for the emergence of Maculelê, strong dance drama, for male participants, who dance group, beating the tears (rods) to the rhythm of the drums and the sound of singing in African dialects or in popular language. It was the highlight of revelry popular secular celebrations in places, commemorating the feast of Our Lady of Purification (Feb. 2), the city’s patron saint. Among all the festivals of Santo Amaro, Maculelê was most contagious, the pace and rich vibrant colours.

Presentation of group shows of the Golden Cord – 80 years.

Its origin, however, as indeed occurs in relation to all manifestations of African folk, is obscure and unknown. Believed to be a popular act of African origin who have flourished in the eighteenth century in the sugar plantations of Santo Amaro, and become a part of the local celebrations. Some support, however, that the Maculelê also has indigenous roots, and then African-Indian origin. Legend has it that the staging of Maculelê based on an epic episode occurred in a primitive village in the kingdom of Yoruba, where I once went out together all the warriors to hunt, staying in the village only a few men, mostly elderly, among women and children. Also took advantage to attack an enemy tribe, the largest number of warriors. The remaining men of the village, led by a warrior named Maculelê, would then be armed with short sticks of wood and faced the intruders, showing such courage that could put them to flight. When they returned the other warriors, became aware of this and promoted a great feast, in which Maculelê and his companions showed the way in which they fought the invaders. The episode then began to be celebrated frequently by members of the tribe, enriched with music and body movements peculiar feature. The dance would be like a tribute to the courage of those brave warriors.

Earlier this century (the century), with the death of the great masters of Maculelê Santo Amaro City, the merriment ceased to appear for many years, the festivals of the patron. Until, in 1943, appeared a new master – Pauline Aluisio de Andrade, known as Popo’s Maculelê, regarded by many as the “father of Maculelê in Brazil.” Mestre Popo gathered relatives and friends, who taught dance, based on his memories, intending to include it again in religious places. Formed a group, the “Set Maculelê Santo Amaro,” which became well known.
It is the studies developed by Manuel Quirino (1851-1923) who are indications that the Maculelê would be a fragment of the Cucumber, dance drama in which blacks were beating wooden rollers, accompanied by chants. Luis da Camara Krab, in his “Dictionary of Brazilian Folklore,” points out the similarity of Maculelê with the Congo and Mozambique. It should also cite the book of Emilia Biancardi, ‘Olelo Maculelê, “one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject.
Today, Maculelê is integrated into the ratio of Brazilian folkloric activities and is often presented in the displays of capoeira groups, folk groups, colleges and universities. However, you should record the comments made by Jose Augusto Lopes Fascio, master Baiano Hook, a former student of Mestre Bimba and Capoeira teacher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro: “… this work of dissemination, Maculelê has undergone profound changes in her choreography and costumes, which results in a distortion reverses. Example: what was originally presented as a choreographed dance in a circle, with a couple of extras moving inside under the command of Master Maculelê was replaced by an entry in a single file with the pairs dancing alone and having no more command of the master. The broken swing, facing the Frevo, was replaced by a hard swing, swinging a little.
“More recently, it is the presentation without an entry in the queue. Each extra stands in isolation, without composing the pair, and performs movements separate, more along the lines of a common classroom exercise than a presentation of fine folk.
“We must recognize that not only Maculelê but all the other popular events are always live highly exposed to changes over time and over the years. (…) I believe that all these modifications should be recorded, to allow researchers in future to study the transformations and also to target those who will practice this popular pastime of extreme wealth, plastic and musical rhythm that Maculelê is.”

SAMBA DE RODA

Samba de roda (“Samba of roda”) is a traditional Afro-Brazilian dance performed originally as informal fun after a Candomblé  ceremony, using the same percussion instruments used during the religious ceremony. The typical drum is the atabaque; drummers improvise variations and elaborations on common patterns, accompanied typically by singing and clapping as well as dancing.

The Samba de Roda is a celebratory event incorporating music, choreography and poetry.

The term ‘Samba’ encompassed many different rhythms, tunes, drumming and dances of various periods and areas of the Brazilian territory. It appeared in the state of Bahai, more specifically in the region of Recôncavo in Brazil, during the 17th century.

Because all drumming and dance was generalized by Portuguese colonizers as ‘samba’, it is difficult to attribute it to one distinct heritage. However, the most universally recognized cultural origin of Samba is Lundu, a rhythm that was brought to Brazil by the Bantu slaves from Africa. Lundu reveals, in a way, the amalgamation of black (slaves) and white (Portuguese) and indigenous cultures. When the African slaves where imported, it was named the “semba” and with the introduction of the Arabic Pandeiro (tambourine), brought into the Roda by the Portuguese, the ‘Samba’ was molded into the form of dance it is now.

In the indigenous language, “samba” means roda de dança, or a circle to dance since the indigenous peoples danced in celebration on many occasions, such as the celebration of popular Catholic festivals, Amerindian or Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, but was also practiced at random.

All participants, including beginners, are invited to join the dance and observe as well as imitate. Usually, only the women dance after each other and they are surrounded by others dancing in a circle and clapping their hands. The choreography is often spontaneous and is based on movements of the feet, legs and hips. One of the most typical moves is the umbigada which is clear Bantu influence, where the dancer invites her successor into the circle’s centre.

The factor that frequently draws the attention of most people to the rhythm is the unusually-accented (syncopated) beat. The absent beat is the strongest characteristic of Samba prompting the listener to dance to fill the gap with her/his body movements. This syncopated rhythm is also an indication of Black resistance against cultural assimilation. The Samba of Roda in particular was considered an expression of freedom and identity of the underprivileged and became a means of liberation.

The Samba de Roda has significantly waned during the twentieth century due to economic decline and increased poverty in the region. The effects of mass media and competition from popular modern music have also devalued this tradition among the younger generation. Finally, the weakening of the Samba de Roda was heightened through the ageing of practitioners and demise of those who made the musical instruments.

GRADING SYSTEM

The Cord systems signify the amount of time, knowledge and experience each player has and is worn around the waist, tied at the side of the hip (rather than in front like you might see in Karate).

Most modern Capoeira groups systems use coloured ropes, called corda or cordão. Many Groups have different systems, use different types of rope, and differ in the order of colours.

This is a look at the Kadara Capoeira International grading system.

 

KADARA CAPOEIRA CANADA

Kadara Capoeira Canada is a capoeira group based in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Professor Soquete runsthe school here under the guidance of Mestre Cicatriz, the President of Associação Kadara Capoeira.

Associação Kadara Capoeira is an international capoeira school led by Mestre Cicatriz, based in Sydney, Australia, with branches in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines. Kadara means destiny. We choose our destiny to be capoeira and to do good things and to contribute to humanity through capoeira.

With over 30 years of experience in the art of Capoeira, Mestre Cicatriz decided to found his own group in the world of Capoeira with the help of Mestre Lotar, his mestre, who supported him and gave him the inspiration for the name of the new group. Associação Kadara Capoeira was founded on August 13, 2013, based on the values of unity, respect and tradition of this art. The name came up because of the importance of Capoeira in the lives of Mestre Cicatriz and Metre Lotar. Kadara means destiny and simplicity (destiny to be Capoeira and simplicity in the way of being). This powerful word inspired the logo of the group that has movement and colour symbolizing earth, fire and air. These three elements of nature show the strength that this new generation of the Kadara capoeirista has.

Vision: A harmonious multicultural community where every person has the opportunity to develop one’s full potential, enabling one to contribute positively to the society at large.

Mission: Associação Kadara Capoeira believes in applying capoeira and other Brazilian art forms as a means for people to have physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, in an environment of tolerance, togetherness, interaction and respect, as well as, appreciation for one another.

Values: Integrity, responsibility, compassion, respect, cooperation and understanding.

Objectives:

  • To use capoeira and other elements of Brazilian culture to inspire and empower students.
  • To create a healthy environment conducive for personal and social growth, resulting in responsible, confident, caring and productive human beings.
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