Capoeira (60 pics)
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves brought from Africa, especially from present day Angola some time after the 16th century. It was developed in the regions known as Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro. Participants form a roda, or circle, and take turns either playing musical instruments (such as the Berimbau), singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, and extensive use of sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws. Its origins and purpose are a matter of debate, with theories ranging from views of Capoeira as a uniquely Brazilian folk dance with improvised fighting movements to claims that it is a battle-ready fighting form directly descended from ancient African techniques.
While many believe that the form displays a combination of African and Brazilian martial arts, historians are divided between those who believe it is a direct descendant of African fighting styles and those who believe it is a uniquely Brazilian dance form distilled from various African and Brazilian influences. One popular explanation holds that it is an African fighting style that was developed in Brazil, as expressed by a proponent named Salvano, who said, "Capoeira cannot exist without black men but its birthplace is Brazil".
Even the etymology of the word capoeira is debated. The Portuguese word capão means "capon", or a castrated rooster, and could mean that the style appears similar to two roosters fighting. Kongo scholar K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau also suggested capoeira could be derived from the Kikongo word kipura, which describes a rooster's movements in a fight. Afro-Brazilian scholar Carlos Eugenio has suggested that the sport took its name from a large round basket called a "capa" commonly worn on the head by urban slaves. Others claim the term derives from the Tupi-Guarani words kaá ("leaf", "plant") and puéra (past aspect marker), meaning "formerly a forest". Another claim is that given that capoeira in Portuguese literally means "chicken coop", it could simply be a derisive term used by slave owners to refer to the displays as chicken fights.