Capoeira: fighting hidden in dance

Capoeira is a dance infused martial art which according to most sources originated in the 16th century in Brazil.

Many believe capoeira was invented by slaves taken from West Africa to Braazil by the Portuguese colonists. Reckognising martial arts as a means of empowerment, the colonists did not allow slaves to practise martial arts of any kind. Hidden in the musical and rhythmical elements of the form, violent kicks and elbow strikes were disguised as passionate dance moves.

When slavery was abolished during the later part of the 18th century, many former slaves had difficulty finding jobs and ended up resorting to crime. During this time capoeira was often used to enable robberies and fighting off the police. This resulted in capoeira being outlawed. The illegal status of capoeira caused its practitioners (capoeiristas) to refer to each other by fake names, today capoeira is legal but many capoeiristas still use nicknames to honour their roots.

I recently shot a video featuring some staff movement combined with a touch of capoeira, to see capoeira in more of its combat form watch the second video, which shows capoeira used effectively in an MMA context.