What is Capoeira? 

When people ask, “what is Capoeira?”, they usually put forth some ideas of their own: It’s a dance, right? It’s spiritual, right? etc. the short elevator pitch goes as follows: What is Capoeira? Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art that was created by the slaves of Brazil as a way to defend themselves and was disguised as a dance and music. Simple, no? 


The long story involves the burning of all records of slavery by the Portuguese, meaning we have very few sources of information regarding the creation and development of Capoeira until the early 1900’s. Non-the-less, we know that Capoeira has it’s roots in the plantations of Brazil and was directly influenced by African traditions. One of the most famous stories comes from the late 1600’s is of Zumbi dos Palmares. Zumbi was a leader of a settlement of ex-slaves that rebelled against their masters and is a folk hero who fought against the oppressive Portuguese. 


In 1900’s, Capoeira is officially outlawed by the Brazilian government as a way to crack down on street violence committed by “Capoeiristas” and at the same time, intensify the oppression of Afro-Brazilians people. Capoeira continued during this time, but maintained a low profile. It is said that during this time, if you were caught playing Capoeira, they would drag you by horse all the way to the police station. So, naturally, best to play Capoeira actually next to the police station!


in the 1932, Mestre Bimba, a renown fighter began developing Capoeira to be effective, systemic, and structured as a formal martial art that would be accepted by the Brazilian government. Mestre Bimba’s school presented what he called “Luta Region Baiana”, to the president of Brazil in 1937, who began the process of legalizing Capoeira. Since then, the Afro-Brazilian art has seen tremendous growth and can be found in all corners of the world. 


Going back to the original question, Capoeira is a dance, it is a fight, it is a oral tradition, it is a cultural artifact, it is cool and amazing, and it is profoundly impactful to the people it touches. All these things smushed together make Capoeira. We honor the traditions of great Mestres who came before, and we continue to build on their contributions to the art. Most of all, Capoeira is fun, it is something you can do at home, with friends, family, and with people you just met, all over the world. Mestre Pastinha said, “Capoeira é tudo que a boca come”, Capoeira is everything that the mouth eats. That’s Capoeira. 

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Calado started practicing Capoeira in 2007, when his cousin invited him to train at a nearby academy. He has taught at Google Inc. amongst various other locations. Calado is now the lead instructor and founder of Dendê Arts.

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Cordão de Ouro was founded in 1966 by Reinaldo Ramos Suassuna, an important name in the world of Capoeira for the quality of those students he has produced.

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In 2012, Ronaldo began teaching Capoeira classes in Newark, New Jersey and one year later, in 2013, the Brazilian Cultural Center of Newark was created. Contra-Mestre Cebolinha is the head instructor and Director of the 
Brazilian Cultural Center of Newark
. Ronaldo has 20+ years experience practicing Capoeira.

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Master Suassuna, as he is known, was born in Ilheus, Brazil in 1938. He went to São Paulo, Brazil in 1965 with a mission to spread the art of Capoeira. Mestre suassuna well well renown for his incredible Capoeira game in addition to his great voice, which he has used to record a number of CD’s.



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