First , you must remember that these explanations of the basic movements of Capoeira are useful, but cannot be compared to training with a Master of Capoeira. Only in a Capoeira class can you learn this true art. It is also necessary to explain that it would be impossible to draw up a repertoire of all movements of Capoeira, since many are either derivatives or combinations of other movements. Here we are just trying to show the most common and basic to give you a initial idea.
Pronounced ‘jinga’, it is the most basic but important movement in Capoeira. It is done by moving back and forth alternating both legs, shoulder-width apart, creating a triangular shape. The hands are moving with the body aiming to protect those parts that are exposed and easily attacked.
In Capoeira Angola, the Ginga is more individualistic in comparison to Capoeira Regional where the Ginga is more defined and structured. Still, the player can add his own style to it. In both Capoeira styles, the Ginga is used to transfer the body in to another move – offensive or defensive.
The Capoeira Au is commonly known as a cartwheel in gymnastics and other martial arts. However, in Capoeira the Aú it is performed slowly and in most cases with the arms and legs bent forward to protect the player from incoming kicks and attacks. From the Au the player can also easily kick their opponent. When performing Au, it is very important for the player/fighter to look at their opponent constantly in order for them to be prepared for any oncoming attacks. To do this the player has to place his head between his hands looking straight instead of looking at the ground.
The Negativa is a Capoeira move used to negate an incoming attack by lowering the body to the ground on one side or the other. The body is supported by one hand while the other is protecting the face. The legs are located close to one another – the leg closest to the hand on the ground is placed in extended position and the other one is tucked underneath their body. The body should be bent forward towards the legs to avoid kicks in the head. The Negativa is a very useful technique due to the fact that while protecting himself the player can hook the leg of their opponent while his other is throwing a kick or performing another movement.
In Capoeira, the Ponte technique is widely used as a standalone, but also as a transitional or defensive, move. It is actually a basic bridge (back bend) where the hands and the legs are located on the ground, the back is forming an arc and the stomach is facing upward. Experienced Capoeiristas can make a Ponte from a standing position by falling backwards on to their palms.
Cocorinha is a very simple and easy Capoeira move but also very useful. It is used to escape from an incoming kick. All a Capoeira fighter has to do is to squat with their knees to their chest with their feet close to the ground and lean on one hand for support. Eye contact and the hand protection technique are required here as well.
The Esquiva, which translates to an escape/dodge, exists in many forms during the Capoeira game.
This is a circular motion in which the legs are on the ground, the torso is twisted and the arms are located at shoulder height on either side of the body. The arms should be bent at the elbow to protect the face as the move begins. The body/torso being wound up is what gives power to the Armada.
Once started, the outer leg is released in the direction of the opponent’s head. It is important to remember that the leg shall be lifted as high as possible when attempting to pass the opponent’s head. Otherwise, the leg will hit the arm or the shoulder of the opponent which would not cause him damage but will most probably cause you a lot of pain.
This movement is pronounced “kay-shah-dah” and is one of the most common kicks in Capoeira Regional. To execute, the Capoeirista steps forward from a middle Ginga position with one leg (at 45 degrees from the other leg) twisting the body to continue facing the opponent. From here, the player tries to untwist the body by releasing the front leg and bringing it up to the opponent’s head to execute the kick. The torque is what gives power to this move. In fact, it is very easy to achieve if you only move your tosro and leave the leg to follow it. Once the Capoeirista completes Queixada, he goes back to a middle Ginga position.
Rasteira is a very common movement. Literally translated means a “pitfall”. The technique is used in response to a kick and aims to sweep or pull the opponent’s leg. There are two major variations of it: Rasteira em Pe – standing sweep and Rasteira do Chão – sweep with hands on the floor.
Vingativa is a shoulder takedown and it is a very useful one. Its purpose is to knock the opponent off-balance from when they are in the Ginga position or after a kick.
Literally, Tesoura means scissors. This technique is performed near to the ground with the support of the hands. The movement looks very much like the movement of a pair of scissors where the player places their legs around the opponent in order to take him/her down. There are two major variations: Tesoura de Costa which is a backward scissor takedown and Tesoura de Frente – forward scissor takedown.
Banda is a sweep kick, the objective of which is to pull one of the opponent’s feet making him lose his balance and fall. It usually is performed from a standing position. What separates the Banda from the Rasteira is that the sweep is mostly done with the heel of the foot instead of the instep.
List of Capoeira Techniques
There are a lot of Capoeira moves and techniques. It might be hard for a beginner to memorize all of them. In any case, it gets easier when they are practiced regularly and especially when playing in the Roda.
According to their execution, the Capoeira techniques can be divided into several groups.
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Ginga | Aú | Vingativa | Bananeira | Queda-De-Rins | Negativa | Negativa Angola | Rolê | Ponte
Cocorinha | Esquiva de Frente | Esquiva Lateral | Resistencia | Queda de Quatro | Queda de Tres | Escala
Armada | Meia Lua de Frente | Meia Lua de Compasso | Queixada | Martelo | Esporao | Chapa | Benca
Asfixiante | Cutelo | Cotovelada | Dedeira | Galopante | Agodemio
Arpão de Cabeça | Cabeçada | Escorumelo
Rasteira | Vingativa | Tesoura de costas | Negativa Regional | Banda
Roda de Capoeira
In Capoeira, the main aim of the players is not to harm the opponent but to show skills and abilities. The Capoeira Game (Jogo de Capoeira) is a physical conversation between two players performed by acrobatic and martial movements. The game happens in the Roda (pronounced “ho-da”) – a circle formed by people (in most cases Capoeiristas) singing and clapping their hands along to the sound of Capoeira music. The music is performed by musicians placed on one side of the Roda. The Capoeira music defines the game that will be played, commonly either – Capoeira Angola or Capoeira Regional.