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Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Call of Brazil's Capoeirista - Page 2

Written by Roxanna Benton
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Ch-ch-ching-dong-dong. As soon as the familiar notes start, ears perk up. Ch-ch-ching-dong-dong. Within seconds, eyes start to flick around the room. Ch-ch-ching-dong-dong. Smiling people start to form a circle while clapping and swaying to the beat. Pavlov was right. It doesn’t take much. A bell for a dog, or five steely notes for a capoeirista, and off they go.


The best place to find capoeira in Brazil is probably in Bahia, a state located on the northeastern coast that has become a center for the retention and cultivation of Afro-Brazilian culture. It was here in the 1930s that one of the most well known mestres of capoeira, Mestre Bimba, succeeded in overturning the ban that made the practice of capoeira illegal and opened the country’s first school.

Unfortunately for the traveler visiting Brazil on a budget, it can be expensive to get to Bahia. It is much easier and cheaper to visit the larger cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. So, keeping this in mind, off we went to Rio de Janeiro, searching for the best fruit juice in the world, and a capoeira school that would let us join in.

The call of Brazil’s Capoeirista, Capoeira, Brazilian martial art, Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, Bahia, armadas, roda, berimbau, Roxanna BentonWe rented a car and drove 100 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro to a town called Buzios. To say that the beaches in Buzios are pristine is something of an understatement, and we were lured away from our quest to find capoeira for several days while we warmed ourselves in the sun. The weather was perfect despite the fact we were traveling in June, the middle of Brazilian winter.

After several days of the laid-back lifestyle, it was time for us to find an instructor and we started our search by talking to the locals. People go to Buzios for the beaches, not the capoeira, so my trusted guidebook was of little help.

Fortunately, my husband had been studying Portuguese, and in Rio de Janeiro you will not likely encounter any English speakers outside of the five-star hotels. Many Brazilians are bilingual in Spanish, but not English, so my husband’s language skills proved to be invaluable.

When we began to explore the region outside Buzios, we found ourselves in the city of Cabo Frio. After asking around for classes, we were told to go to a park near the beach around 8 p.m. and ask the instructor if we could join in.

We had been warned about the dunes around Cabo Frio, as their proximity to both the beach and the favela (Portuguese word meaning shantytown) meant that they were sometimes a location for robberies. We tried to find the park in the daytime, but were unable to find it; later on that night after twenty minutes of searching, we were about to give up when we heard it.


Ch-ch-ching-dong-dong: the call of the capoeirista. There they were, thirty barefooted people practicing their kicks in unison on a concrete slab that had undoubtedly been used by futbol players only a few hours before.

(Page 2 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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