Essay Writing Help on Capoeira (African Brazilian Marshal Art Dance)

Capoeira (African Brazilian Marshal Art Dance)

Capoeira is basically an expression of art. According to Nestor Capoeira, there existed a letter in 1821 explaining Capoeira Negroes arrested while in the military school while engaging and encouraging disorder. It was subsequently defined in 1901 as Portuguese slang for a game involving the use of hands and feet, practiced by the lowly in society (112).  It is considered an art because it involves expression of elements of music and choreographed body movements.

 Capoeira is played during combat to mark some rituals that resemble martial art, but are not really intended to attack the opponent. The Capoeira is ritualized and therefore has rules that must be strictly observed. There is an element of constant challenge and measurement of personal abilities when performing the act. During these simulation dances, music played from the Barimbau bow is a must. This is so because the instrument is associated with the development of Capoeira; other instruments include the tambourine and drum, bell, and a bamboo stick called roco-roco. These instruments add up to the music that is enjoyed and the rhythm necessary for the ritual Capoeira game. Capoeira involves two characters at any one time.

This art of Capoeira is some form of martial art dance and sport. The slaves in Brazil then needed to defend themselves, and therefore came up with this sport and made it look like a dance style. There were several slaves held captive, and therefore, the former slaves would instead introduce music and acrobatic movements to the fighting styles. It is this kind of art responding to music that came to be known as Capoeira. It is also important to note that the term Capoeira and all terminologies used are in Portuguese (Gogerly 5).

Capoeira is a dance fight and also a game. This art takes these three forms, and there is a strong background of Capoeira traced back to Africans. This art was already in Africa before the same Africans moved to the colonial Brazil as slaves in the early 1500s. The martial nature was not only a recreational activity but an expression of the desire for freedom by Africans. The Africans, therefore, had to learn how to fight their way out of captivity.


The history and development point to a situation where the African slaves were desperate for freedom, and on the other hand, exploring the importance of unity in a foreign land. The development of Capoeira has a rich African history, and, despite the diversity of the Africans in Brazil, Capoeira united them (Gogerly 5)

End of Slavery

Capoeira would later come to haunt Brazil after the end of slavery in the 19th century. There would be capoeristas would became a menace to the Brazilian society. Most of the former slaves were abandoned and had nowhere to live.

The society viewed the slaves as lazy and lesser human beings. The slaves had no meaningful employment, and were therefore forced to put their refined skills to use. In a country with so many criminals and warlords who needed protection, the capoeiristas had ready employment opportunities. They would be hired as hit men and guards for the warlords.  It is at this time that the Brazilian government decided to find out the root cause of the insecurity. It was documented that the people with skills in capoeira were responsible for the chaos that rocked Brazil.

The government was compelled to ban Capoeira in 1892, and anybody found practicing Capoeira for whatever reason, be it dance or fighting, would face imminent arrest, torture, and mistreatment from the responsible security organs. These were the measures put in place to scale down the misuse of Capoeira in Brazil. The African slaves who practiced the traditional dances known as roda de capoeira would do so in secrecy.

New Era

The ban on Capoeira was later lifted in 1918 (Gogerly 5). Capoera was to be practiced again but had significantly lost its martial art nature and violence that had come to be associated with it. This loss was largely attributed to the use of Capoeira to entertain tourists as a dance. Further developments after the lifting of the ban encouraged the establishment of the first formal school training on Capoeira. This led to the exponential growth of the sport in over 130 countries across the world. Tourists would tour Brazil to see and learn more of Capoeira and its original roots in Brazil.

The revival of the art of Capoeira from near extinction is credited to Mestre Bimba. Given the fact that culture was related to this dance, Bimba was able to convince the government to support the sport and grow tourism in Brazil. Mestre was from Salvador, where the first roots of the sport still existed. Capoeira traces the sport to this Brazilian town. The highest level in the sport is that of Mestre; Bimba was very instrumental in the revival of Capoeira. Bimba achieved the highest rank in the sport, and that is why he was well suited to roll the teaching program though under a different name. Several of these schools were later rolled out to promote the training of young people in the rich Brazilian culture (Essien 96-106).

Capoeira today is very important in the tourism sector. It has helped bring several tourists to Brazil, and in turn bring in foreign currency. Capoeira is not only considered a martial sport; it has been used to entertain as a dance. The choreography associated with it has made it an outstanding art, and has won several competitions both nationally and internationally as a dance style. The cultural value attached to Capoeira is enormous. Capoeira is also a sport; this sport can be used to entertain, and, in extreme cases, can be used for self defense (Capoeira 170-192)


There is so much secrecy that shrouded Capoeira. Its origin has been a story to speculate on for several years now. Many writers have tried to demystify its origin, and what stands out is that it was s sport adopted by Africans to try and save themselves from slavery. The significance of the sport stands out because of its unique nature. It is multifaceted in the sense that it is an art to express dance choreography, a sport, and it is also rich in culture. It is the many faces of the sport that make it a huge tourist attraction.

The art of Capoera has also found its way to story books and other written material. Whereas the past and the origin of the sport is largely speculative, it is a fact that this sport is one to be envied and will be for the future in Brazil and other nations too.

Work Cited

Capoeira, Nestor. Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books, 2002. Print.

Essien, Aniefre. Capoeira Beyond Brazil: From a Slave Tradition to an International Way of Life. Berkeley, Calif: Blue Snake Books, 2008. Print.

Gogerly, Liz. Capoeira: Fusing Dance and Martial Arts. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 2011. Internet resource.