15 Basic Capoeira Terms

Post Written By FATIN

15 Basic Capoeira Terms

Behind Capoeira:

If you are here, then it is most probably because you are interested to know more about the intangible cultural heritage known as Capoeira. To be more precise - you want to learn more about the basic capoeira terms that you have probably heard often, but had no idea what they meant.

If this sounds like you... Consider it as your lucky day! This article guide is your entry to the capoeira basics.

Firstly, we would like to give you a little bit of insight into the history about this unique martial art. And on top of that, explain why it is that capoeira terms are mostly spoken/written in Portuguese language.

Capoeira [kapo-way-ra] is a martial art originated from Brazil, sometime near the beginning of 16th century. During this time, Brazil was colonised by the Portuguese, who were exporting African slaves mainly from Angola. However, the slaves were prohibited to practice any form of martial arts. As a result, in order to have a method of survival, the moves in capoeira were designed to disguised the combat moves to look more like dance moves.

Therefore, that is basically why you would find most of the capoeira terms are using Brazilian Portuguese words and commands. Hence, we created this 15 basic capoeira terms article as a basic guide to especially teach the non-Brazilian Portuguese speakers who are new to capoeira.


15 Capoeira Terminologies

Moves terminologies:

Similar to other forms of martial arts, capoeira has a range of terms used to describe specific moves and actions. Let�s take a look at some of the basic capoeira moves that you will find yourself hearing a great deal when starting out.


1. ENTRAR

Describing the act of entering the roda.

2. GINGA

Continuous left to right movement which is used at the start point of all capoeira moves. This is a major move in capoeira.

3. PASSADA

Foot movements whilst doing Capoeira especially in ginga.

4. DEFESA

A defensive maneuver used to evade attack

Community terminologies:

Capoeira communities are very welcoming and have a special bond amongst them. There are unique terms that are used to recognize characters of capoeira. Here are a few of the most common ones we will teach you about


5. ABADA

A Capoeira group

6. BAMBA

A master or expert at Capoeira

7. CAPOEIRISTA

Referring to someone who plays Capoeira.

8. MESTRE

Highest level a Capoeirista can reach

Music terminologies:

If you�ve been involved or have watched a capoeira game, you will know the importance of the capoeira instruments and capoeira music. It will prove to be incredibly beneficial for you to familiarise yourself to the terminologies associated with the sounds of capoeira. Below are the most basic capoeira music terms to get you started.


9. BERIMBAU

The main musical instrument used in Capoeira

10. CHULA

A Capoeira chant

11. LUNA

Slow rhythm played at the end of the roda

12. VIOLA

The highest pitched berimbau

Manner terminologies:

There are a range of capoeira discipline that take place within the community. We have for you, three of the most common terms used to reflect the mannerisms in capoeira.


13. CORDA

The colored belts used in the grading system

14. FORMATURA

An event for when someone becomes a Mestre

15. RODA

Circle made of people where Capoeira is played


There you go! You are now equipped with the basic capoeira vocabulary for heading to your capoeira game. So what are you waiting for? Go grab your berimbau, form the roda and show off your ginga.



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