Probably one of the most common questions capoeristas get asked when outside of Brazil.
I find that trying to define Capoeira is like trying to define life. Everyone has thoughts as to what life is, why they exist and what their individual experience on life is. Similarly, when asking this question what aspect of Capoeira are we asking about?
We could define Capoeira by the movements. One could say it is a martial art, maybe a dance or even a ritual.
We could define by its history. A way of resistance, a tool for criminals or more recently a sport.
We could define it by its music. An oral history, a philosophy or a series of poetic fables.
Maybe Capoeira is defined by the individuals who practice it. Or possibly it is defined by those who are observing it.
Capoeira is all of this, none of this and more than this. The words I associate with Capoeira are: Martial, Self development, Community, Culture & Art.
As with life there are so many facets to Capoeira that there is no short answer. Moreover, Capoeira has evolved through its four hundred year history, slowly recreating itself to align with modernity but respecting its roots at the same time. Through my writing I hope to unpack some of what Capoeira is – to me.
This post above are my thoughts from my short experience with capoeira. Right now there are no citations, references or bibliographies attached. I do hope though that one day my writing will go into that detail.