Capoeira: A Brazilian Art

My name is Anastacia. I’m 40 years old and I love capoeira! I have been practicing capoeira for the last 4 years with Contra Mestre Betinho in Boynton Beach, FL, and I am currently an intermediate cord. Capoeira is a Brazillian art that is a mixture of dance, martial arts and acrobatics. It was created by slaves brought to Brazil from Africa during the colonial period. The slaves from Angola, Congo and Mozambique brought their dances and cultural traditions with them. They hid their martial art and traditions into a form of dance. The African people developed capoeira not only to resist oppression, but also for the survival of their culture and the lifting of their spirits. Capoeira became associated with crime, and in 1892, became outlawed in Brazil. If a person was caught practicing the art, they were punished by cutting the tendons of the back of their feet or sometimes even killed. People that played capoeira had nicknames to hide their identity from the police. Often they had more than one. Getting a nickname has become a tradition which normally is obtained at a "batizado." This is an event that happens one time per year and also where the student gets a new cord (belt) which determines what level they are at. My capoeira “apiledo” or nickname is “Medusa”. An apiledo is given to a student based on some characteristic that stands out about that person that may resemble an animal, fruit, person, body part, etc. Capoeira is traditionally played in a “roda” which is a circle and traditional African instruments such as a “berimbau” and “atibaque” are played. We sing and clap our hands together while we watch the games.

I love the way capoeira combines dance, martial arts and acrobatics. It flows like a conversation. You move in sync with the person you play with and to the music. I’ve learned songs in Portuguese and how to play several instruments. I enjoy learning about the culture of Brazil through this beautiful art. It keeps me challenged physically and mentally, and there is an amazing family vibration and connection with the people that play the game of capoeira. This is the one way for me to have an entire workout for my body, and it makes me feel so strong. I’ve gained flexibility, agility and even some acrobatics. It makes me feel strong and has changed my life in so many ways by adding sound, movement, culture and friends.

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