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Capoeira: The Dance of Warriors – A Complete Guide! (2023)

Maybe you’ve tried a few hobbies from our definitive list of hobbies and interests but haven’t found the one that clicks.

Or perhaps you’re looking for a unique way to stay fit and mentally sharp. Capoeira could be the answer to your quest for something new and exciting.

Ever heard of Capoeira? No, it’s not a new dance craze or a type of yoga.

It’s actually a mesmerizing blend of martial arts, dance, and music that originated in Brazil. If you’re looking to add some rhythm to your kicks and flips, then you’re in the right place.

Stick around, and I’ll show you why Capoeira is the coolest hobby you’ve never heard of!

What is capoeira? a beginner's guide to capoeira
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What is Capoeira?

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It was developed in the 16th century by enslaved Africans in Brazil as a form of self-defense disguised as dance. T

Today, it’s a cultural icon of Brazil and is practiced worldwide. Imagine doing cartwheels and handstands while also executing precise kicks and dodges—all to the beat of traditional Brazilian music.

That’s Capoeira for you!

Who Can Engage in Capoeira

Capoeira is incredibly inclusive; it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Whether you’re a teenager looking for an after-school activity or an adult wanting to break the monotony of gym workouts, this cultural martial art and dance has something for everyone.

  • Age: Generally, kids as young as 4 can start learning the basics.
  • Skill Level: From absolute beginners to martial arts experts, all are welcome.
  • Health Requirements: Basic cardiovascular fitness is beneficial but not mandatory.
  • Time Commitment: A couple of hours a week is a good start.
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Why You Should Try Capoeira

Physical Fitness

  • Cardiovascular Health: The fast-paced movements are excellent for your heart.
  • Flexibility: The dance elements help improve your range of motion.

Mental Health

  • Stress Relief: The rhythmic music and flowing movements are meditative.
  • Boosts Confidence: Mastering complex moves is incredibly empowering.

Community and Social Benefits

  • Cultural Exposure: Learn about Brazilian history and traditions.
  • Social Interaction: It is often practiced in groups, offering a sense of community.

Skill Development

  • Coordination: Balancing martial arts and dance moves requires immense focus.
  • Rhythm and Timing: The musical elements help improve your sense of rhythm.

For more benefits of engaging in hobbies, check out our list of things to do when bored.

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Fun Facts About Capoeira

  1. Origin: Capoeira originated among enslaved Africans in Brazil during the 16th century. It was initially a form of self-defense disguised as dance to evade the slave masters’ suspicions.
  2. Cultural Heritage: In 2014, UNESCO recognized Capoeira as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, highlighting its cultural and historical significance.
  3. Global Reach: Capoeira has transcended its Brazilian roots to become a global phenomenon, practiced in over 150 countries today.
  4. Capoeira in Movies: This unique art form has been showcased in various films, including “Only the Strong” and the Brazilian movie “Besouro,” which tells the story of a Capoeira legend.
  5. Roda: The circle formed by Capoeira practitioners during a match is called a “Roda,” and it’s a fundamental aspect of the practice.

Equipment You’ll Need

Abadá (Capoeira Pants)

  • Required: Yes
  • Use: These pants are designed for maximum flexibility and movement. They are usually white and made from a durable material to withstand the rigors of Capoeira.
  • Cost: Ranges from $20 to $50
  • Where to Buy: Most Capoeira schools sell them, but you can also find them online.

Cordão (Colored Belt)

  • Required: Yes
  • Use: The Cordão serves as an indicator of your skill level in Capoeira. As you progress, you’ll earn different colored belts.
  • Cost: Around $10 to $20
  • Where to Buy: Available at Capoeira schools or specialized martial arts stores.

Atabaque (Drum)

  • Required: Optional
  • Use: This tall, wooden drum is used for musical accompaniment during Capoeira sessions.
  • Cost: $100 to $300
  • Where to Buy: Musical instrument stores or online platforms specializing in Brazilian instruments.

Berimbau (Musical Bow)

  • Required: Optional
  • Use: Another musical instrument used, the Berimbau sets the rhythm and style of the game being played.
  • Cost: $50 to $100
  • Where to Buy: Online stores specializing in Brazilian musical instruments or cultural festivals.
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How to Get Started in Capoeira

Step 1: Find a Local School or Online Course

  • Local Schools: Use Google or social media to find schools in your area. Look for schools with good reviews and certified instructors.
  • Online Courses: If you prefer learning from home, there are several online platforms offering beginner to advanced Capoeira courses.

Step 2: Attend a Beginner’s Class

  • Trial Classes: Most schools offer free or low-cost trial classes. This is a great way to get a feel for the art form and the teaching style of the instructors.
  • What to Expect: The class will usually start with a warm-up, followed by basic moves and perhaps a short routine.

Step 3: Get the Basic Gear

  • Abadá and Cordão: These are essential for any Capoeira student. Make sure to get a comfortable pair of pants and a starter belt.
  • Footwear: While many practitioners prefer to go barefoot, some opt for light, flexible shoes.

Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Consistency: The key to mastering Capoeira is consistent practice. Aim for at least two to three sessions per week.
  • Home Practice: In addition to classes, practice at home to reinforce what you’ve learned.
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Capoeira Techniques: From Basic to Advanced

Capoeira, a martial art that marries fight and dance, boasts a plethora of techniques that are as enchanting as they are effective in combat.

From the rhythmic sway of the ‘Ginga’ to the powerful ‘Au Batido’ kick, each technique in Capoeira is a blend of agility, strength, and strategic acumen.

Let’s delve into some of these techniques, exploring their form, function, and place within the Capoeira Roda.

Basic Techniques

1. Ginga (Jinga)

  • What It Is: The foundational movement in Capoeira.
  • How to Do It: It’s a side-to-side movement that sets the rhythm and is the starting point for many other techniques.
  • Purpose: To keep the capoeirista in constant motion, making it difficult for opponents to target them.

2. Esquiva

  • What It Is: Basic dodging technique.
  • How to Do It: Lower your body and move to the side to dodge an incoming attack.
  • Purpose: To avoid kicks and set up counter-attacks.

3. Cocorinha

  • What It Is: A low squat.
  • How to Do It: Squat down low with your hands in front of you to protect your face.
  • Purpose: To dodge high kicks and quickly change levels.

4. Meia-lua de Frente

  • What It Is: A sweeping kick.
  • How to Do It: Swing your leg in a half-moon arc in front of you.
  • Purpose: To attack an opponent from a distance.

Advanced Techniques

1. Macaco (Monkey Flip)

  • What It Is: A back handspring-like move.
  • How to Do It: From a squatting position, propel yourself backward into a handspring.
  • Purpose: To evade attacks and reposition yourself.

2. Au Batido

  • What It Is: A cartwheel with a kick.
  • How to Do It: Perform a cartwheel but add a kick at the apex of the movement.
  • Purpose: To attack while moving or dodging.

3. Queixada

  • What It Is: A twisting kick.
  • How to Do It: Start in the Ginga position, twist your body, and execute a powerful kick.
  • Purpose: To deliver a strong attack that can break through defenses.

4. Armada Dupla

  • What It Is: A double spinning kick.
  • How to Do It: Execute two spinning kicks in quick succession.
  • Purpose: To surprise your opponent with a second, unexpected kick.

Each of these techniques can be combined in various ways to create complex sequences and strategies, making Capoeira a rich and endlessly fascinating discipline to study.

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Similar Activities or Hobbies

ActivitySimilaritiesDifferencesEquipment NeededSkill LevelTime Commitment
TaekwondoMartial ArtsFocus on high kicksUniform, BeltBeginner to Expert2-3 hrs/week
BreakdancingDance, AcrobaticsNo martial elementsComfortable clothesBeginner to Expert2-4 hrs/week
SambaBrazilian OriginPurely danceDance shoes, CostumeBeginner to Expert1-2 hrs/week
Jiu-JitsuGrappling, Brazilian OriginGround-basedGi, BeltBeginner to Expert2-3 hrs/week
ZumbaDance, MusicFitness-orientedWorkout clothesBeginner to Expert1-2 hrs/week
Krav MagaSelf-defenseMore aggressiveComfortable clothesBeginner to Expert2-3 hrs/week
YogaFlexibilitySpiritual, less dynamicYoga matBeginner to Expert1-2 hrs/week
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Pros and Cons of Capoeira


  1. Full-Body Workout: Capoeira engages multiple muscle groups, offering a balanced workout that improves strength, flexibility, and endurance.
  2. Cultural Enrichment: Beyond the physical aspects, you’ll immerse yourself in Brazilian culture, learning traditional songs, instruments, and history.
  3. Community: One of the most rewarding aspects of Capoeira is the strong sense of community it fosters. You’ll make friends and belong to a global network of enthusiasts.


  1. Time-Consuming: To truly master Capoeira, you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time, not just in practice but also in learning its cultural aspects.
  2. Potential for Injury: Like any physical activity, especially one that involves complex moves and acrobatics, there’s a risk of injury if not practiced carefully.
Full-Body WorkoutTime-Consuming
Cultural EnrichmentPotential for Injury
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The Role of Music and Instruments in Capoeira

The Importance of Music

Music is the soul of Capoeira. It sets the tempo, mood, and energy level of the game. The music can be slow and contemplative or fast and energetic, influencing the style and pace of the movements.

Key Instruments

1. Berimbau

  • What It Is: A single-stringed musical bow.
  • Role: It’s the leading instrument and dictates the rhythm and style of the game.

2. Atabaque

  • What It Is: A tall, wooden drum.
  • Role: Provides the base rhythm and can be used to signal changes in the game’s pace.

3. Pandeiro

  • What It Is: A Brazilian hand drum.
  • Role: Adds a layer of complexity to the rhythm and is often used for faster games.

4. Agogô

  • What It Is: A bell instrument.
  • Role: Used for specific rhythms and to add a melodic element to the music.

How Music Influences the Game

The rhythm played on the Berimbau dictates the style of game that should be played.

For example, a slow rhythm calls for a more strategic and dance-like game, while a fast rhythm might lead to a more aggressive and acrobatic game.

Safety Tips for Practicing Capoeira

Warm-Up and Cool Down

Always start with a warm-up to prepare your body for the intense physical activity and end with a cool-down to help your muscles recover.

Know Your Limits

Capoeira can be physically demanding. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard, especially when you’re just starting out.

Use Proper Gear

Wearing the right clothing and protective gear can prevent injuries. Invest in a good pair of Capoeira pants (Abadá) and a comfortable t-shirt.

Train Under Supervision

Especially for beginners, it’s crucial to practice under the guidance of a qualified instructor to ensure that you’re performing techniques correctly and safely.

Stay Hydrated

This is a high-energy activity, so make sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after practice.

FAQs About Capoeira

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Is Capoeira Effective for Self-Defense?

Capoeira was originally developed as a form of self-defense and continues to incorporate various martial arts techniques. While it may not be as direct as other martial arts, its unpredictable movements can be effective for self-defense when adapted properly.

How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Capoeira?

The journey to proficiency is highly individual and depends on several factors like your initial fitness level, the quality of instruction, and how often you practice.

Generally, with consistent training of at least 2-3 times a week, you can expect to become proficient in basic techniques within 6-12 months.

Is Capoeira Good for Weight Loss?

Capoeira is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. A one-hour session can burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories, making it a great option for weight loss and overall fitness.

What Age Can You Start Capoeira?

Capoeira is accessible to people of all ages. Many schools offer classes for children as young as four, and it’s never too late for adults to start.

Can I Practice Capoeira at Home?

Yes, while attending a Capoeira school provides the benefit of expert instruction and community, many practitioners also supplement their training with at-home exercises and online tutorials.

A painting of a man in a white robe doing Capoeira.



Capoeira is more than just a martial art; it’s a celebration of culture, a community, and a holistic approach to well-being.

Whether you’re interested in fitness, history, or social interaction, Capoeira offers something for everyone.

Next Steps

  1. Find a School: Use search engines or social media to find a Capoeira school near you.
  2. Get the Gear: Invest in a good pair of Abadá and a Cordão to start your journey.
  3. Join the Community: Follow Capoeira blogs, join online forums, and participate in local events to immerse yourself in the culture.

Glossary of Capoeira Terms

Basic Terms

  1. Roda: The circle where Capoeira is practiced.
  2. Ginga: The fundamental footwor
  3. Mestre: A master or teacher
  4. Capoeirista: A practitione
  5. Axé: The energy or life force

Moves and Techniques

  1. Armada: A spinning kick.
  2. Meia-lua de Frente: A half-moon kick.
  3. Queixada: A twisting kick.
  4. Macaco: A cartwheel-like move.
  5. : A basic cartwheel.


  1. Berimbau: A single-stringed musical bow.
  2. Atabaque: A tall, wooden drum.
  3. Pandeiro: A Brazilian hand drum.

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What is capoeira? a beginner's guide to capoeira