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Capoeira


Notice: the article below was originally published in paper edition by the Brazilian Government; this transcript to digital media is a means to widespread this useful information.

Capoeira is one of Brazil's most important cultural expressions.

The name "capoeira" is of indigenous origin, and means "a clearing amid the jungle", or "a clearing where there used to be a jungle"; in Brazilian northeast, many dishes are prepared with "galinha de capoeira", or "capoeira chicken", which grows in the capoeiras, as opposed to chickens raised in captive conditions.

Some careless definitions state that the "game of capoeira" ("jogo de capoeira") is a sport practiced at academies or in the streets, with no set rules but characteristically ordered nevertheless, with its own music, for which the instrument that sets the pace at practice bouts is the berimbau, or musical bow.
This definition, however, considers capoeira only by sporting aspects, to the detriment of the ways all its other features blend in with Brazilian society.

The purpose of these articles is to better explain those elements of capoeira that transcend physical exercise, and cover the profound implications of the many ways the practice of capoeira affects the Brazilian society.



For many reasons, capoeira may be considered one of the most complex among Brazilian cultural expressions.

Capoeira's mythical and religious aspects, for instance, are a part of that which is considered "sacred" in Brazil, something that permeates all beliefs, lifestyles, dreams and aspirations in our society.
SÚrgio Buarque de Holanda, one of the most famous Brazilian sociologists, referredt to these aspects as religious feeling, both intimate and close to the heart, accepting of spiritual contributions from many sources, and a paradigm of the courteous nature with which that writer credits the Brazilian people.
Thus, the magic that permeates the world of capoeira gives form to a vast spectrum of meaning through which this expression of Afro- Brazilian culture maintains ties with all that is sacred, and with several of the expressions and traditions of Brazil's popular culture.

The language of capoeira helps us understand some of the peculiarities in the way Brazilians relate to their environment.
The names of many capoeira moves and techniques often have to do with our natural surroundings, and indicate how closely this practice relates to paying attention to one's environment.

The History of Capoeira fleshes out these social aspects by adding a wealth of relevant historical significance. The changes through which capoeira has evolved reflect a number of transformations occurring over the last few centuries; a comprehensive look at the History of Brazil must therefore include some comments about the war on capoeira, which persisted throughout the 19th and into the early 20th century.

Despite concerted efforts at its suppression, capoeira managed to overcome all obstacles. This is explained at least in part by the fact that capoeira is a broad-based and deeply-rooted aspect of what it means to be Brazilian, and therefore not something that is easily crushed.
As a product of grassroots culture, capoeira was regarded with grave misgivings by the ruling cultural elite, as something associated with idlers and ruffians entirely lacking in social graces. It is therefore instructive to observe that capoeira today serves to eliminate some of the very social ills for which it was accusingly blamed in the past.
Capoeira has revealed itself an excellent vehicle for social inclusion. This is largely due to the way capoeiristas, in their circle ceremonies, place opposites on an equal footing, encourage diversity and constantly foster the exercise of patience and humility.

In 2007, the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil sponsored more than 50 capoeira events all over the world.
The populariztion of capoeira in other countries has greatly strengthened and benefited this martial style. Today there are mestres in many countries whose command of the style is as good as in Brazil.
We can say that although capoeira has its cultural roots in Brazil and is without question a symbol of Brazilianness throughout the world, it is now so widely practiced on a global scale as to constitute Brazil's contribution to the cultural heritage of mankind.

Below, some more information which was prepared by the Brazilian Government to widespread knowledge and practice of capoeira around the World:

»War on Capoeira. Why and how Brazilians attempted to kill capoeira.


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