Capoeira is a striking art with origins as an Afro-Brazilian art form which combines elements of martial arts, music and dance. In the martial arts aspect of Capoeira, it focuses on striking particularly kicks accompanied by acrobatic movement. Similar to Muay-Thai and Indonesian Silat, Capoeira is accompanied by its traditional Afro-Brazilian music and is demonstrated in coordinance with the tempo of the music. Although almost non-existent in MMA, Capoeira has made its way in becoming a fully fledged sport.
There have been many theories about the styles that make up Capoeira, however one theory has been considered by many Capoeiristas that Capoeira may have been influenced by a ritual fight-dance called N’golo (the zebra dance) from Southern Angola, which was performed by people of southern Angola. Since the 1960s, the N’golo theory has become popular amongst some practitioners of Capoeira Angola, although it is not universally accepted.
Created by slaves brought to Brazil from Africa, during the colonial period, Capoeira is a martial art that grew from survival. People were brought from Angola, Congo and Mozambique, and with them, they brought their cultural traditions. They hid their martial art and traditions into a form of dance. The African people developed Capoeira not only to resist oppression, but also for the survival of their culture and the lifting of their spirits. After slavery, they continued to play Capoeira.
Capoeira was against the law for 20 years until 1918. The first Capoeira School ever to exist was that of Mestre Bimba. He was given permission to do so in 1937, after he demonstrated the art in front of President Getúlio Varga. Capoeira was finally recognized as a national sport.
The Jogo (game/match) in Capoeira is played in a Roda (the circle of people around the Capoeiristas), its circular shape is maintained to keep focus on the players and musicians and retain the energy created by the Capoeira game.
Capoeira does not focus on injuring the opponent. Rather, it emphasizes skill. Capoeiristas often prefer to show the movement without completing it, enforcing their superiority in the roda. If an opponent cannot dodge a slow attack, there is no reason to use a faster one. Each attack that comes in gives players a chance to practice an evasive technique.
There are two main styles of Capoeira that are clearly distinct. One is called Angola, which is characterized by slow, low play with particular attention to the rituals and tradition of Capoeira. The other style is Regional, known for its fluid acrobatic play, where technique and strategy are the key points. Both styles are marked by the use of feints and subterfuge, and use groundwork extensively, as well as sweeps, kicks, and head butts
The actual object of the game is different according to what style of Capoeira you are playing.
In Capoeira Regional the object is to try and floor your opponent. But still you do not actually floor him or her. You just show how you might be able to the moment you find an opening.
For Capoeira Angola the object is to try and hit your opponent in the face. That is why in general the arms are held up higher in Capoeira Angola to protect the face. Again, the object is not to actually hit your opponent but to show where you might be able to. Angola is played mostly close to the ground.
Yet having very little to do with MMA, Capoeiristas have managed to involve Capoeira in MMA competitions yet some have succeeded and some have not but still it proved that Capoeira is not useless in MMA and one can benefit from it with the right combination of styles.
Notable Capoeira practitioners in MMA:
* Elvis Sinosic
* Marcus Aurélio
* Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons
* André Machado Gusmão