How to Do Capoeira

The Capoeira is an extremely unique dance that is a mix of martial arts, dance, and acrobatics. It is typically performed between two participants that play together in a game format. This is because two capoeira performers typically exhibit moves in response to one another. While capoeira can be extremely intimidating to try, it is incredibly fun and is an excellent way to improve your fitness, strength, and flexibility. Learn how to do Capoeira from professional instructors Tiba Vieira and Mestre Jelon Vieira in these Howcast videos.

History of the Capoeira

Capoeira was first created by African slaves brought to Brazil by the Portuguese during the 1500s. It was originally a martial art that was disguised as a folk dance to allow slaves to practice their fighting skills without being punished. Through the use of capoeira, slaves were able to break free from their masters to create their own communities called Quilombos.

Slaves stayed in their Quilombos through the late 19th century when slavery was finally ended in Brazil. At this time, capoeira was banned because the Brazilian government was afraid that former slaves would use it against them. Once again, capoeira was performed in disguise to preserve culture and make the dance socially acceptable. 50 years later, the ban was lifted and capoeira grew in popularity to the point of now being one of Brazil’s national sports. It is also popular around the world!

How to Do Capoeira

Learning how to do capoeira dance can be difficult and will take some time to master. These free video lessons should help you get started and practice at home!

Performing Moves

The capoeira consists of many moves, all of which are some form of fighting action. You can dodge, kick, and spin, but it’s important to note that your moves are typically done in response to whoever you’re playing against. For example, if someone performs a kick, then you’ll want to dodge. There should never be any actual contact as there will be ample space between two dancers/fighters.

Basic Moves

There are four basic moves that you should know if you want to perform capoeira. The first is Ginga, which is the basic movement and will be covered below. There is also Negativa, which is a dodging move, Role, which is a spinning evasive move, and Queixada, which is a spinning kick move. These four basic moves should get you started, you can learn how to perform them all by following along in our other capoeira video lessons!

How to Do the Capoeira Ginga (Basic Movements)

The most important move in capoeira is ginga, which is your default movement that must be learned before anything else. It requires balance and agility, but mastering it is critical to seamlessly transitioning into other moves. Here’s how you can do the Capoeira Ginga:

  • Start by stepping back with your right foot into a slight lunging position, keeping your left leg bent.
  • Place your right arm across you in front of your face, with your left arm pointed downward and out to the side.
  • Step forward with your right foot into a sumo position, with both of your knees now bent. 
  • Now step back with your left foot into a lunging position once again, with your right knee now bent. 
  • While doing this, swing your left arm up and out in front of your face, dropping your right arm to point downward and to the side. 
  • Now step forward with your left foot to enter a sumo position once again with both knees bent. 
  • Step back with your right foot again to enter a lunging position and shift arms to have your right arm in front of your face and your left arm down and out to the side. 
  • You’ll now repeat this movement as the basic steps of the capoeira. Make sure to use your hips to help you swing from side-to-side.

How to Do the Capoeira Negativa

How to Do the Capoeira Role

How to Do the Queixada Role

Learn Capoeira Today!

We hope this guide helps you learn how to do the capoeira! Explore the rest of the videos in this series below to learn more advanced moves and techniques. 

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Tiba Vieira

Tiba Vieira started his capoeira training in Brazil with Mestre Jelon Vieira, the pioneer of capoeira in the United States. In 1997, Professor Tiba moved to the United States to continue his capoeira training under the mentoring of Mestre Jelon and to attend school. Professor Tiba has been learning and teaching the art of capoeira for almost two decades. He currently teaches at the Ailey School and at Tisch School of the Arts, and in his spare time he teaches in after-school programs and community centers throughout New York City. He has also performed regularly throughout the United States and internationally. In addition, Professor Tiba has appeared in TNT's "Martial Artists of the 20th Century," the New York Film Academy's "Fascinado Pela Capoeira," the PBS serie's "Egg: The Arts Show," GQ magazine, Free magazine, LXTV/NBC "Spotlight of the week" and Gettyimages. He holds a BFA degree in Electronic Design and Multimedia.