A Complete List of Aerial Floreios for Capoeira

I mentioned earlier that floreios have their place in the game of Capoeira. At the same time, you can’t have a Capeoria game of just flips. There are times when Capeoiristas will do flipping competitions, but  in the roda, you need to have a full understanding of the fundamentals before introducing acrobatics into your game. Sometimes, when the game is fast and exciting a flip of some kind makes sense. 

That being said, it’s beautiful to see some amazing capoeiristas fly around the roda in a way that looks easy. I thoroughly enjoy training these movements and hope you do too!

If you’re just starting out with aerial floreios, then make sure to take care of your body when you do these movements. Many of these floreios can be dangerous, so make sure you are careful as you train and don’t take these bits of advice as gospel. Make sure you practice in a place where you can be shown proper technique in a safe environment. 

Many of these clips were provided by Mike “Desconfiado” Pinto

Instagram: @desconfiado.capoeira

 Mortal (back flip)

The famous back truck.  Unlike in gymnastics, there is no space in the roda for a roundoff (in most cases). If you’re going to do a back tuck while playing Capoeira, then you need to be sneaky about it. If you do find the space and time however, here are some tips to training the back tuck for those who are new to the move. 

The first thing you want to do is train what gymnasts call, “the eagle position”. The eagle position is the starting position that you will use to push off the ground and jump off of the ground. Bendyour legs slightly as if you were sitting in a high chair. Take the arms and swing them backwards so they are behind you and keep your chest up. Keep your head neutral and stay focused on whatever is ahead of you. From the eagle you will jump straight up. This is a good place to start practicing. Jump straight up as high as you can from the eagle position. Make sure you swing your arms up over your head to get as much lift as you can. 

Most people when trying to back tuck for the first time will try to jump backwards. In fact you want to start the back tuck by jumping up as high as you can. As you reach the apex of your jump, you want to start using your legs to turn your body over. Tuck the knees hard into your chest and grab your shins with your hands. Your hands should go from fully extended upwards to grabbing your shins. Make sure that when you tuck your knees in, that they stay tucked. This is a common mistake that people make that leads to under rotating. 

Raiz (Raiz)

To do raiz, make sure you can already do parafuso and au sem mao. These are fundamental floreios that will help when doing raiz. 

In the case of capoeira, raiz can be used similarly to other floreios. If you want to enter the roda with a flip like raiz, that is a perfectly fine use, and if you want to apply this move during a Capoeira game, make sure you have enough space to not crash into anyone. Note that crashing into the battery is not only dangerous but a mortal sin in Capoeira. 

A good starting point for the raiz is the parafuso/marto solta kick… except here, you will omit the kick. One you are able to do that comfortably, you will need to work on leaning back during the movement. Lead back enough so that your upper body is about parallel with the ground. While leaning back, look over your shoulder in the direction you are turning to spot the ground. 

An important detail when doing raiz, is to swing the arms diagonally across your body. As you do this, make sure that they stay outstretched, in line with your shoulder. Doing this will give you the momentum and turn needed to complete the movement. Try not to let the arms come in towards your body or move from the outstretched position until you begin the jump. 

Ideally you want to spot the same point on the ground throughout the entire movement. This may depend on your back and hip flexibility. As you progress with this movement, try to keep your head lower and raise your legs higher and further apart. This will make the movement look smooth and beautiful.

Au Sem Mão (Aerial)

An aerial is a gymnastics movement that has a very specific technique that starts from the lunge and ends in a lunge. In Capoeira, you can do your aerials this way no problem, however, it is much more common to see another variation. The variation of the aerial that Capeoria most often uses is considered wrong or at least ugly by most gymnasts.

The first step to doing au sem mao is the set up. If you are going to do au sem mao to the right, then lean your torso and move your hands to the left to gather momentum. Once in this set up position, Begin the au sem mao by bringing your upper body and head as close as possible towards your right leg. As you do this you will need to kick the left leg hard to make sure it goes around your body. The left arm will punch over your head and the right elbow will punch behind you.The last piece of the puzzle is to jump. Jump with the base leg and if your arms and kicking leg produce enough force, then you’ll successfully do au sem mao. 

A way to progress into au sem mao is to jump as you get into a regular au. As you jump, you will place your hands down at the same time on the ground. Once this becomes easier, you can place your hands down for less and less time until they are only there for a split second. The last tip for doing au sem mao is to do the move on a downhill. Downhills are your friend! They give you invaluable time when trying to figure out a new move and give your body and brain time to figure how the move is supposed to be done. Once the hill becomes easy, try the move on the floor. 

Armada Dupla (Double Leg)

From The parallel position step one leg over the other. As you step, bend the chest so that it’s parallel to the ground. At the same time, make a big circle with the arms so they go from moving overhead to down towards the ground and back. The big circle with the arms is the momentum that you use to drive the legs around your body. At this point you should be twisted up with your torso facing away and parallel to the ground and your legs should be together ready to jump. Once you jump, make sure to keep the legs tight and straight. The core, especially the obliques need to be very tight when doing this move. If you can’t generate enough power from your arms and obliques you won’t be able to get your legs over. This is one move I don’t really recommend learning in an open field because it can be very disorienting when you first learn it. 

Instead what you should do is find something a little higher than hip height and use that as a reference tool. You can use a friend or any other soft surface to practice landing on it with your back and your legs pointed straight up. Once you’re here, you can continue and roll over whatever you landed on. If you’re practicing with a friend, make sure they are at a good height so you don’t crush them by landing on top of them. You want to roll over them while maintaining a good technique. The goal of this exercise will be to use the support as little as possible until you simply jump over it. The higher an object you can practice on, the easier it will be to do once you remove that support.  

Folha Seca/chuta a lua (Dry leaf/Kick the moon)

Although this is not the last floreio Capoeira has to offer, this is the last one on this list. In the tricking world these flips are called gainer and kick the moon. The set up for folha seca can depend. In tricking, the set up is called a J step. The J step is a pair of steps that make a “J” shape. The first step is straightforward and the second makes the hook of the “J”. After the second step, the arms should be behind the back, ready to shoot upwards to give you maximum height. At the same time, the trailing leg should be ready to kick up, initiating the backwards spin of the kick. 

In Capoeira, this same setup can be created by doing a variety of movements. The most common are circular kicks, such as queixada and armada. The exit for both kicks can lead you into a J step. 

One way to progress into the full folha seca is to slowly do the gainer off to the side. At first, there will be almost no “back flip” to your bainer. Instead, it will feel like you’re kicking a soccer ball and the force is carrying you over to the side. Little by little, you want to jump less laterally and more over your body. Make sure to keep tight throughout the movement and kick hard in the set up. 

Au de frente sem as maos (Webster) 

There are a few versions of this movement. You can do the au de frente sem as maos from runnings, from ginga, or from standing, among other variations. A couple prerequisites that will make your life easier while doing this movement are the front flip and the aerial (au sem mao). 

There are four main components to doing this acrobatic movement. The first of the four ingredients is what to do with the jumping leg. The jumping leg needs to fully extend up in order to produce the force needed to jump enough for this movement. The second part of this movement is the back leg, which needs to kick back as hard as you can behind and over you. These two components can be trained together by jumping in place as high as you can while kicking back and up with your leg. This is a great drill you can use to get started with this movement. 

The next element is to pull the arms behind your back as you jump. This will give you height and help some with the rotation. The last part is to keep your chest high as you jump. Although these elements seem simple enough, putting them together can be a challenge. 

Some common problems that people have when doing the website is jumping forwards instead of jumping upwards. The biggest problem with jumping forwards is that this is force you could be using to jump upwards – killing your jump height. Jumping forwards creates another problem, which is that the chest goes further forward than the knee. The chest should stay in line with the knee. Another common problem is not extending enough with the arms and legs. It is common for people to pull their arms very slightly back and then begin rotation. Likewise, many people do not kick hard or far back enough before rotating. These two mistakes make doing the movement much harder. The last mistake is to try and spot your landing by looking over your shoulder. This will cause you to spin and create a sidewise flip instead of a forwards flip.

A useful tip to learning this move is to do it on a downhill where you will have an easier time rotating because of the slope. The other tip is that if you are familiar with a punch front flip, then you can tuck in momentarily as a way to rotate faster during the movement. This is something you can try if it is something you are already familiar with. If not, don’t worry, just keep practicing and don’t be afraid to plant your hands on the floor if you don’t feel confident that you can rotate enough. 

Flic Pirueta (360 Back Handspring)

It may be obvious, but a back handspring is a very useful movement to know prior to doing this movement. Two other movements that can help you learn this movement are au trancado (gumbi) and mortal with a half twist (arabian). 

Once you have these two movements under control, you will be best prepared to do the flick. The reason the arabian is so helpful is because the first half of the movement is something in between a back handspring and an arabian. The goal is to jump back and spin enough that you are facing towards where you started your jump. At this point your hands will reach for the ground in the same way the gumbi or au trancado is performed. As you reach, your hands will make a sort of “X”, criss-crossing into position. Needless to say, this move is a little advanced and does require some background in the prerequisite moves I mentioned above. 

One of the reasons this move can be difficult to do is because there is so many ways to make a mistake. There are many ways to make mistakes at the takeoff, the movement through the air, and the landing. Addressing the first common mistake is to stop the ground too early. Often time people will look under their armpits before they take off, which does not let them get enough height or flip at all. 

The second common issue with regards to the landing is not criss-crossing the hands upon landing. Not crossing the hands in an “X” shape will lead you to land in a sort of handstand position. If you feel like you are stuck here, then this might be the reason. 

In general, this move is like any other in the sense that learning and mastering the progressions will greatly help you improve your ability to successfully do this aerial floreio.

Dobro Armada (720 Hook Kick)

In order to get started with this kick, it’s a good idea to know how to do armada with a jump and parafuso/martelo rodado (the kick, not the floreio with the same name in this list). 

The kick starts with a diagonal step from parallel which will allow you to gather momentum and height for the kick. The next important tip for this kick so that you will be spotting your target three times during this kick. The first time is at the start, just before you jump. The second time is after the first step in and you throw the first kick, and the last time is as you are coming around for the second kick. 

Another important tip while doing this movement is the use of the hands. The hands are a terrific tool for gathering momentum and they are used with great effect in this kick. The hands will move outstretched for the first kick and quickly move inwards to the chest after the first kick is thrown. Brining in the arms is meant to accelerate your rotation, just like is done in figure skating. 

The last thing to keep in mind is that during the last spotting of your target, you need to throw the kick. One difference between the dobro armada and the 720 hook kick (used more in the tricking/trick martial arts world) is that the upper body is more upright in Capoeira to perform a kick that looks more like an armada and less like a meia lua. 

Parafuso (540 Kick)

Although some groups might call this floreio or the kick by a different name, its not uncommon for these kicks to be distinguished by saying the leg you land on. Some groups will call the kick martelo rodado (round martelo) for example. Lots of times, the floreio will be called parafuso, except you land on the other leg. 

The main difference between these two movements is that this floreio lands with the opposite leg. This means that you will need to spin even more in order to land on the correct leg. To be clear, with this floreio, you will be landing on the same leg that kicks. 

If you don’t already know how to do parafuso (the kick/AKA Martelo rodado), then you want to make sure you first have a solid understanding of this kick. The next step is to elevate the kicking leg. Unlike the kicking version, you are not kicking across the body of your opponent, but kicking up and over your body. Make sure that kicking over your body feels more natural. After you have a solid understanding of this, then you are ready to try the kick by increasing the normal amount of spin. With enough spin and height, you will have the clearance needed to land with your opposite leg. If you struggle kicking your leg over your body, you can still kick across and do the floreio as a stepping stone to the final product. 

Mariposa (B-twist)

The first step to learning the mariposa is to jump straight up and spin 360 degrees. Spin your arms forcefully around and extended to your side. As you start spinning, pull them in towards your body. Making sure to spin your arms forcefully as you jump will help when performing the B-twist.

From here, the mariposa is similar to doing a butterfly kick with a twist. The butterfly kick is a fairly simple skill, but if you’re unfamiliar with it, I’m sure you could learn it within a couple days of practice. To do the mariposa, start as if you were going to do a butterfly kick. As you begin kicking the leg back and swinging the arms, you need to make sure to have the chest parallel with the ground as you would with a butterfly kick. From here, the arms will come in towards the chest, allowing you to twist while parallel to the ground. 

Make sure to look over your shoulder to spot your landing and improve your twist. Note that when you land you should ideally land standing and looking in at the place you started your jump.

This is a great intermediate level floreio, which can be scary because of the horizontal twist, but it’s in fact fairly safe when compared to other flips. Feel free to practice this movement on the ground as opposed to a trampoline, where it is difficult to coordinate the floreio.