History of Capoeira

Capoeira is approximately 400 years old with its roots in Africa. It came to Brazil by way of the slave trade in the 16th century. In the slave quarters on plantations in Brazil, various cultures were forced together. As a result of this fusion many Afro-Brazilian folkloric arts and traditions were created.
One of these traditions was Capoeira. This form of martial art was used by the slaves to free themselves and to flee from the plantations into the Quilombos (free African Societies), in the neighboring jungle that existed on the fringes of the cities, towns, and plantations.

During slavery, in order to be practiced, Capoeira had to be disguised and completely kept secret for fear of persecution or penalty of death. Capoeira was prohibited in Brazil until 1930. At that time the government eased up on the repression of popular cultural expression, including Capoeira.

In 1932, Mestre Bimba (the creator of modern Capoeira) opened the first formal school of Capoeira. In doing so, he took Capoeira off the streets, where it was looked down upon by the upper class Brazilian society, who considered it a pastime of cutthroats, thieves and con men. Mestre Bimba began teaching doctors, lawyers, and business men. In time, the art of Capoeira gained great respect in Brazil.