Kew word… Brief

In case you have no freaking idea what Capoeira is, you should watch this video, otherwise feel free to watch the video anyways and proceed to the next paragraph.


It’s not completely clear when or where in Brazil Capoeira began. The history is pretty mysterious, but there is generally a communal consensus that Capoeira was created by enslaved Africans who were brought over by the Portuguese to work on on their plantations. The influence of African martial arts probably had some influence on Capoeira’s earlier form sometime in the 1600’s.


From the 1800’s onward, there is slightly more documentation of Capoeira. In the 1800’s there were many cases of “Maltas” in the streets of Rio. These maltas were like gangs of Capoeiristas that were labeled as hooligans, vagabonds, and criminals. As you can guess, the white slave owners were very nervous about the maltas and decided to stamp them out.

In 1890, enslaved Africans were finally freed, but the ruling whites were still weary of the underclass they created and one of the new laws they passed was the outlawing of Capoeira. Interestingly the law described Capoeira moves that we know today, like Meia Lua, Cabeçada, and Au!


Capoeira was outlawed in 1890 to 1934. Why 1934? Like any good story of redemption, it was because of ONE MAN! Manuel Dos Reis Machado, or as all Capoeiristas know him, Mestre Bimba. This person changed Capoeira in a way that we still feel today. He showed the Brazilian government that Capoeira could be a legitimate martial art like Taekwondo and Karate, which lead to the legalization of Capoeira in 1934.

Mestre Bimba made a lot of innovations to Capoeira and it would be worth writing a whole blog post dedicated to his achievements, but amongst those achievements were the creation of Capoeira Regional, the hierarchy of student, teacher, and master, many new ways to play Capoeira, and of course, the recognition of Capoeira as a sport.


Today Capoeira is practiced for many reasons. Fitness, self defense, artistic expression, etc. There have been many cases of MMA fighters, actors, and professional Jiu Jitsu practitioners learning Capoeira to enhance their own practice. I think that’s the cool thing about Capoeira, there’s something in it for everyone. You can see it when you go to a class. A super diverse group of people come together to move, get fit, and learn a beautiful art.

If you’re interesting in learning more, sign up for our newsletter below, check out other blog posts or the classes section for Capoeira classes in the New Jersey/New York area. If you don’t live close to where I teach, you can always go to another Cordão de Ouro school. Here is a list of some in the USA, but feel free to google search a school near you!   

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