As most of you know, history
plays a major role in life. We learn a great deal about what we, or our
ancestors, did in the past. Everything that we do today was started
somewhere by someone. In Capoeira, this holds true as well. In this
page, we will tell of the history and even some philosophy behind this great
The history of Capoeira is very blank. This disappoints us, and many other people as well. However, we have read many theories by various mestres. Some of these theories are quite common and known to many who are familiar with the jogo.
Due to all these different theories, a great deal of controversy has been common among Capoeira historians. Because this dance began so long ago, somewhere in the 1500's, not very many documents were written on its origin. Due to the lack of information, it is difficult to recount the exact story behind Capoeira.
One interesting theory states that many different Africans were transported to Brazil. That isn't the theory, obviously, but it starts on the Brazilian plantations. These slaves were kept from practicing any fighting or any other martial art which could later become a threat to the slave-owners. In response to the strict rules, the sly African slaves came up with a technique to hide the martial art side of their newly created combat. They disguised their fight as a mere dance, seemingly harmless and no more than a simple game to on-lookers. The real truth, however, is that the Africans were practicing deadly and effective fighting styles and techniques. This soon became known as Capoeira.
Remember, though, that is merely one of the countless theories. Every theory out there has its truths and downfalls.
For example, you must understand that perhaps the slave-owners would not allow even this dance to continue for several reasons. One of those reasons would be that many slaves got hurt during the games and could not physically continue working the fields. As you could imagine, this would not be very profitable for the slave owners. Also, when the slaves were brought together enjoying themselves, it gave them a sense of nationality. Most players also became self-confident and would more than likely start a slave uprising.
reasons caused Capoeira to be illegal in Brazil after 1892.
Many of the Capoeiristas scared the king and the people. This caused
Brazil to take legal action against Capoeira and some other dances that Africans brought with them from
their homeland. So then, how did Capoeira survive? How did players practice
Capoeira now that it was illegal?
Well, like most things that are illegal or outlawed, some people won't quit doing it. They simply keep the fact that they are doing it hidden from any who would turn them in. That is what the Capoeiristas did. They hid in dark alleys or abandoned places. Some may have gone into the forest to play. However, some went to the public and practiced in the open. These were the ones who tried to rebel the law and abolish it. Many of these players were obviously arrested.
But going back to the origins, nobody rightfully knows. We've heard everything from it being created in Africa long before the slave ships started, to the slaves creating it in the fields. We have given you other links on our Links page, however, that may give you your own theories of the origins of Capoeira.