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Capoeira in Brazil
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art that combines elements of dance, fighting and rhythm. It is not known how capoeira was developed, although it is though to have either come from Africa through slaves brought to Brazil or based on a pre-existing Indian game.


While the exact origins of the art form remain a mystery, it has been suggested that capoeira developed as a style of self-defense by which slaves would protect themselves from their enemies. Thus it became known as Capoeira Angola, after the first slaves in Brazil who were believed to be from Angola.

After the abolishment of slavery in the 19th century, capoeira was outlawed as it was associated with communities that were not entirely legal. The art remained illegal until 1928 when Mestre Bimba founded what was known as Luta Regional Baiana, which is a version of Capoeira Angola that involves more dance.

Street capoeira combined with Capoeira Angola to result in its present form of music, dance and fighting, now known as Capoeira Regional in Brazil.


Music is central to capoeira and there are a number of different instruments used to create the rhythm necessary for the performers to move. One is the berimbau, which is said to "command the circle".

Shaped like a bow, the berimbau is tied with a steel wire. At one end of the shaft is a hollow gourd. To create noise, one must strike the wire with a short stick and variations to the sound can be created by pressing the gourd down.

Rhythm comes from the beats of the atabaque, a large drum. Typically, there are four beats with an emphasis on the third. The atabaque's skin is made from cow hide, tightened by metal rings, rope and wedges made out of wood.

Capoeira Today

Travelers visiting Brazil's capital city may be interested to know that there are a number of academies and schools where different forms of capoeira are taught so they can learn the unique art during their stay in one of the Rio de Janeiro hostels

Alternatively, there are often performances on the streets of many Brazilian cities (including Rio) which can be enjoyed.
About the Author
Before settling down and becoming a copywriter for HostelBookers.com Paul Scottyn did a backpacking tour of Brazil, he checked out a variety of hostels including a number of Rio de Janeiro hostels.
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