What Are The Different Capoeira Styles?

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What Are The Different Capoeira Styles?

Birth of different styles

There are different beliefs on the origin of capoeira, some believe that capoeira was brought to Brazil by African slaves, others believe that capoeira was an invention of the African slaves in Brazil.

The best known guardian of Capoeira Angola is Vicente Ferreira Pastinha from Salvador; Brasil; better known as Mestre Pastinha. At the age of 12 in the Companhia de Aprendizes de Marinheiro, Vicente Ferreira Pastinha was already teaching capoeira in 1902. He was initiated in the art of capoeiragem at the age of 10 by Mestre Benedito who after witnessing some brutes bullying Vincente for being younger and weaker asked Vincente to join in capoeira classes, eventually Vicente Ferreira Pastinha managed to impose himself with counterattack of capoeira and so the bully gave up possible fights and tried to start a friendship.

Capoeira Regional was created in the city of Salvador in the 1920's by Manoel dos Reis Machado better known as Mestre Bimba. Mestre Bimba mixed the batuque with capoeira to make it more and more efficient in defense. Capoeira Regional brings together elements of Capoeira Angola and Batuque. Mestre Bimba thought of capoeira more from a fighting perspective as martial arts, because the elements of dance stood out in Capoeira Angola, and some capoeiristas were demoralized for having the efficiency and lethal power of blows constantly questioned and discredited.

Music Styles

In the Jogo de Capoeira Regional and Capoeira Angola music is a fundamental element for the execution of the movements, more so for Capoeira Regional as the synchrony of the movements with the music is more visually perceptible. The music of Capoeira regional is characterised by the speed of the rhythm of the game compared to the rhythms of Capoeira Angola.

Fighting Styles

Capoeira Regional was created with the intention of improving the efficiency of the blows for personal defense and to surprise the bullies who underestimated the capoeiristas, for this reason in Capoeira Regional the movements are often wider, with extension and hyperextension of arms, legs and hips in this way often the blows made with the lower limbs reach the height of the head and chest. The teaching sequence of capoeira regional gathered combinations of blows with audacity, courage, impetuosity, confidence in the blows delivered, agility and resistance.

Capoeira Angola is full of values of the Afro-Brazilian culture, the essence of each game is valued, because each game is unique, with unique energy. Capoeiristas are not only there for the technical execution of the movements, but enter the roda of capoeira to exchange energy and experiences with the ancestral spirituality. The game of Capoeira Angola is much more than just a game, people who see only the game have a superficial understanding of the complexities of the game of Capoeira Angola.

In capoeira angola the movements are executed with the center of mass of the body close to the ground, not falling and not being knocked down is one of the challenges of the jogo de Capoeira Angola.


The initiation to Capoeira Angola consists of a process of long-term learning in which the learners will need to be willing to overcome all limiting beliefs, learn other ways of movement and reflection of movements. The learner needs to be open to other possibilities of movement to give up one's own convictions and to abandon self-centeredness.

In contrast, Capoeira Regional there are no party or ritual to mark the exact point of the capoeirista's formation.

Both aspects of body techniques and teaching methodology can be equated with traditional schools of other sports, or formal school education, so it is necessary to be open to a new experience.

In Capoeira Regional the Batizado is held in two parts: the first part takes place at the academy during classes and the second takes part at a batizado party, during the batizado the student must perform the sequence of movements and techniques of Capoeira Regional. The batizado consists of adding to each freshman, a 'nome de guerra': physical built, the neighbourhood where they lived, the profession, the way to dress up, attitudes, an artistic gift of some kind, served as subsidies for the nickname". For this jogo, an older graduate or an older student is chosen by the Academy who was present in class and as a godfather, encouraged his godson to play, let go of the jogo, and played beautifully. In the end the godfather has the privilege of the fulfillment and has the first blessing.

The main motivation for the batizado was the capoeira game at all levels, especially for the freshmen who were being batizado, but the party had a vast program, counting with the game of iúna, maculelê, samba de roda, candomblé, samba.

Mestre Bimba of Capoeira Regional created a systematic methodology of teaching Capoeira Regional. The admission exam consisted of three basic exercises: Cocorinha, Queda de Rim and Ponte, so they verified the flexibility, coordination, strength and balance of the beginner, then the fundamental movement class in which ginga was learned with the help of Mestre Bimba, the admission exam was modified over time.

Capoeira Regional as well as the Contemporary Capoeira have suffered influences from the oriental fights and the methodology and academic systematization, consequently the graduation levels were symbolized with colorful handkerchiefs, nowadays the strings have been replaced and now the strings are used as belts in the pants.

In the Centro de Cultura Física Regional located in the Nordeste de Amaralina neighborhood in the city of Salvador graduation parties were held where some graduates were given colored handkerchiefs, blue, yellow, red and white. The blue handkerchief was for the graduates, the yellow graduated with emphasis and specialized, the red was for the specialized graduates, the white handkerchief were for the contramestres.

The Brazilian confederation of Capoeira organises the graduation of capoeira according to the colors of the strings.

1st Stage - Green string (student) stay 1 year;

2nd Stage - Yellow string (student) stay 1 year;

3rd Stage - Blue string (student) stay 1 year;

4th Stage - Green string (student) stay 1 year;

5th Stage - Blue-green string (student) stay 1 year;

6th Stage - Blue-green string (student) stay 2 year;

7th Stage - Green-yellow string (graduate student) stay 2 to 3 years;

8th Stage - Green-white string (Monitor) stay 3 to 5 years;

9º White-yellow string (Teacher) Title postulated by the work done in Capoeira;

10º White-blue string (CONTRA MESTRE) Title postulated by the Master responsible for the Group;

11º White string (Mestre) Title postulated by the recognition of the oldest Mestres da Sociedade Capoerística>

An institutionalised and federated capoeira group is no better or worse than other groups that are not recognized by the federation, or that do not comply with the federation's standards.


The use of musical instruments in Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional are practically the same: Berimbau Gunga or Berra boi, Berimbau Medium and berimbau violinha, two pandeiros one agogô and one reco-reco, but at times in Capoeira Regional the drums can be reduced to one berimbau and two pandeiros.

Capoeira Angola follows organisational rituals since the entry of the musical instruments , unalterably in the following order: Berimbau Gunga, medium berimbau, berimbau viola, pandeiros, agogô, reco-reco and, at last, atabaque; as well as the unalterable sequence of songs: ladainha, Chula and corrido.

The sacred character of the roda de capoeira has as a paradigm the sacred character of the musical instruments, so the instrumentalists follow a corresponding hierarchy with the age of the capoeirista, starting from the master however this organisation does not clearly determine the qualitative differences between the various members of the group with the exception of the master, the musical instruments which by tradition carry perpetual status. Due to the degree of proficiency of the musical instrument this order becomes imperfect; the scale classification follows: Berimbau Gunga, medium berimbau, berimbau viola, pandeiros, agogô, reco-reco and finally atabaque. This is a tradition that is preserved by the FICA and Nzinga groups.

The ladainha is the song that starts a roda de capoeira, usually executed by the berimbau gunga. Characterised by the narrative, bringing the legacy of some master, a historical event or some important element of the philosophy of capoeira.

The chula is the song that follows right after the ladainha, as a form of dialogue solo/coro is made with short verses that are repeated by the coro with praise to capoeira, to the capoeiristas, to the masters and to God. Given care and attention to the blows sung with metaphors, and invitations to the beginning of the game.

The Corrido also follows the same format as solo/coro da chula however solo asks and the coro answers, the question is variable and subject to improvisation and the same answer is repeated. The Corrido are sung throughout the game in the roda de capoeira, with a wide repertoire.

The berimbau is the essential instrument for the dynamics of the performance. The berimbau gunga starts and ends the roda as well as chooses the touches of the repertoire and is followed by the other berimbaus. The most played are: Angola, Angola Invertido, São Bento Pequeno and Jogo de Dentro. The variations of the songs determine the rhythm of the game, where more religious issues of candomblé and the energies of the participants are also involved.

In Capoeira Regional the organisation of the instruments and instrumentalists follows the same logic of Capoeira Angola, however the most played songs are São Angola and São Bento Pequeno, São Bento Grande and Angola Dobrada. Each touch corresponds to a jogo rhythm or to warn about something that was happening in the surroundings.

The songs in Capoeira Regional are Ladainha, Quadras e Corridos; The Quadras are short verses that are usually presented in a board of lines and serve to start an event or roda followed by praise to the mestres, to the capoeiristas and to God and then the call to the jogo.

In Capoeira Regional we traditionally wear white pants and this fact has a special meaning, because a good capoeirista is able to demonstrate complex techniques with mastery without dirtying or kneading the white pants.

Contemporary Capoeira is more current, and cannot be categorised as Regional or Angola, Contemporary Capoeira is different in practice, in the sequence of teaching and does not necessarily follow the traditions of Capoeira Regional or Angola.

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