By the 16th century, along the outskirt towns of Brazil, sprung a colourful culture from a wild mesh of fighting techniques, acrobatics, music and passion. It seemed like a harmless ritualistic episode but it masks a country's burning desire for liberty from oppression. A statement of passion; an attempt at freedom of expression in an otherwise incredulous world, this is the root of Capoeira. This is Capoeira Angola.
Along the regions of Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, groups of enslaved African men would gather around for a game of what seemed like ritualistic dances for their entertainment. But such a display disguised the birth of a toxic mix of Afro-Brazilian martial art stunts. They dubbed this: Jogo de Capoeira (Game of Capoeira) and it was more so a mix of dance (evolving as a function of the rhythm and sound of music) and fight (with offensive and defensive movements).
Later on, recognized as a dance of the slaves and a potential tool for rebellion, Capoeira practice was banned from the country but practitioners continued to maintain the tradition in hiding. Around 1930, Mestre Bimba changed Capoeira style for the express purpose of winning legitimacy for capoeira by promoting its acceptance among the middle and upper classes. He was successful in his purpose and that gave birth to the new Capoeira (Capoeira Regional style).
This deliberate change in traditions in order to make Capoeira appeal to a wider audience has jumpstarted the worldwide recognition over Capoeira that we know today. However, there were practitioners who sought to understand and practice the Capoeira in its purest form. It was Mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira Pastinha) who opened a school (Academia De Capoeira Angola) in 1941 at Bahia, Brazil, in hopes of educating practitioners about the traditional Capoeira. He called it Capoeira Angola, to give reverence to its African origin.
Capoeira Angola, the older, more traditional style, served as the base for Capoeira Regional style. It is mainly played in a slow and smooth motion, low to the ground. It is branded by low kicks, head butts and dodges. Angola contains a lot of ritualistic and demonstrative movements, as it originally was portrayed as a dance. While being played, it brings the sense of African rituals and philosophy to the fighters and the observant.
As with any other form of art, Capoeira Angola itself has changed from what it used to be 100 years ago. It is much more organized and the style of play (although it is distinct from Capoeira Regional) has become very technical in some places. Due to the creation of schools that teach Capoeira Angola, the play has become more instituted and a little more formal compared to the original, raw, informal play of the slavery era.
There is no belt ranking system in Capoeira Angola. Chamadas are apparent in this style as well. They are sub-games designed to test the alertness and awaken the malicia of the capoeirista. A typical Angola game can last up to 10 minutes each while a typical Regional game lasts only 60 seconds.