Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements from dance, acrobatics and music to form fluid interactions between the Capoeiristas.
Capoeira has a few very distinctive movements that are clearly associated with this fighting style.
The ginga, which is directly translated to: rocking back and forth or to swing, is the most basic and fundamental movement in capoeira. This move is extremely important both for attack and defense purposes. Ginga is used to keep the capoeirista constantly moving as to prevent him or her from being a still and easy target. The other use of ginga is making fakes or feints; this is to mislead the opponent leaving him open for an attack.
The attacks in Capoeira go directly for vital organs or sensitive areas. The Capoeiristas only attack when there is a clear opportunity. Most Capoeira attacks are made with the legs, like direct or swirling kicks, rasteiras (leg sweeps), tesouras or knee strikes. The head strike is a very important counter-attack move and elbow strikes, punches and other forms of takedowns are all frequently used in Capoeira.
The defense is based on the principle of non-resistance, meaning that the capoeirista will avoid the oncoming attack opposed to blocking it. Avoids are called esquivas, which depend on the direction of the attack and intention of the defender, and can be done standing or with a hand leaning on the floor. A block should only be made when the esquiva is not possible. This fighting strategy allows quick and unpredictable counterattacks, the ability to focus on more than one adversary and to face empty-handed an armed adversary.
A series of rolls and acrobatics (like the cartwheel called aú) allows the capoeirista to recover quickly and counter-attack. These ...
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...ury slavery was starting to fade away due to the military refusing to deal with escapees, raids of plantations still exploiting slaves and growth of the Brazillian abolitionist movement; by 1888 Brazil declared slavery against the law.
Capoeira found new applications in this time when criminals and warlords hired capoeiristas as bodyguards and hitmen. In 1890, the recently proclaimed Brazilian Republic decreed the prohibition of capoeira in the whole country. Social conditions were chaotic in the Brazilian capital, and police reports identified capoeira as an advantage in fighting.
After the prohibition, any citizen caught practicing capoeira, in a fight or for any other reason, would be arrested, tortured and often mutilated by the police. Cultural practices, such as the roda de capoeira, were conducted in remote places with sentries to warn of approaching police.