Origins of Capoeira

Origins of the fight…

Capoeira Angola emerged in the XVI century with the arrival of African slaves in Brazil especially from the regions of Congo and Angola through Portuguese colonisation. Knowledge of the origins has been lost due to the destruction of archives and documents because the governors of the time did not want the participation of the Negro slaves in Brazil’s history.

Several anthropologists expound different theories about the beginnings of the Capoeira.  Nevertheless, the theory closest to reality is one which suggests that Capoeira Angola originated from an African ritual called N’golo. Two African warriors fight, representing the battle between two zebras, to win the right to choose a virgin woman for marriage. The movements of other animals have also been adapted and integrated into the game.

The slaves practiced and trained Capoeira at the senzalas, small huts made of palm, located inside the haciendas where they toiled. They used Capoeira as a fighting instrument in order to obtain their freedom by rebelling against their oppressors. They escaped to the jungles and with the passing of the years, small illegal communities were created (known as quilombos) where they finally reached their spiritual liberty. Capoeira Angola continued to evolve as a mixture of art, dance, fight, culture, education, and as a philosophy and way of life.

Capoeira survives…

Many years later, with the abolition of slavery and the acceptance of Capoeira as a national sport in Brazil, it began to be taught at formal academies. The first person to create a group of Capoeira Angola and preserve the traditions was Joaquim Vicente Ferreira Pastinha, better known as Mestre Pastinha. At the same time, another great character of Capoeira was Manuel Dos Reis Machado, Mestre Bimba. He incorporated movements from other oriental martial arts, creating the so-called Luta Regional Baiana, also known as Capoeira Regional. Thanks to these movements, now Capoeira has been extended all over the world.

The next generation…

Luiz Marcelo Santos Moraes, Mestre Marcelo Angola, was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil on 30th November, 1965. He began practicing Capoeira Angola in August 1985, at Mestre Curio’s school located in Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia. Pelourinho is the cradle and center of the Capoeira Angola world. Mestre Marcelo Angola received the title of trenel (trainer) in 1990; afterwards in 1994, he was named Contra-mestre; and finally, in 1999, he was recognized as a Mestre from the ABC in Salvador, Bahia (Association of Brazilian Capoeira).

Since 1999 Mestre Marcelo Angola has worked building his group on the Island and beyond. Marcelo work has allowed him to visit many countries and people around the globe, promoting Capoeira Angola. Many of the students who now teach for Angoleiros do Mar have developed their own groups under Marcelo’s guidance and now are spreading the work of Angoleiros do Mar across many parts of the world.

10 years of work continues…

Mestre Marcelo Angola, founded the Centro Cultural de Capoeira Angoleiros do Mar on the 5th
March 1999, with its central base located at Barra Grande, on the island of Itaparica, Bahia, Brazil.

He works with Capoeira Angola to preserve the values and traditional fundamentals of Capoeira Angola, both within and outside Brazil, giving priority always to the artistic and cultural aspects of the art form, without compromising its traditional characteristics.

The voluntary work Marcelo started on the island of Itaparica over ten years ago continues today with the Childrens Project, ”Gingando no Mar,” a NGO Project which still has no official funding and is only kept alive because of the work of a few dedicated students of Mestre Marcelo.

Our group has grown over the last decade and we are greatful for the work of our family Angoleiros do Mar in Europe, the UK and beyond who have helped with their time, energy and their capoeira which has helped to raise money at various fundraising events in aid of the project in Brazil. You can learn more about the Project Gingando no Mar here.

The work of Angoleiros do Mar continues to grow with the work of its teachers in Paris, Lille, Rennes, La Rochelle, Lausanne, Barcelona, Tokyo, London, Oxford and Plymouth.