Capoeira is a form of art which combines the elements of martial arts, sports and music. It has been used as an element to import Brazilian culture all over the world with its growing popularity. Capoeira has certainly been ingrained in the Brazilian culture and goes very deep in its history.
This art form which combines a number of complex and swift moves by both the upper and lower body originated in Brazil in South America. Descendants of African slaves in Brazil during the beginning of the 16th century created Capoeira. It was during this time that Portugal colonized the country and imported people from the African continent as slaves. Slaves in Brazil during this time were experiencing physical and emotional torment every day from the Portuguese. As a result, a number of slaves escaped every day in order to flee the torture that they experience. Capoeira was created as a means for these runaway slaves to cope with the everyday hardships and struggles experienced in the hostile and unfamiliar lands that they hide in. Moreover, the Portuguese authorities were always on the hunt for these slave escapees, which made it even more difficult for the escapees to survive outside. Slaves who escape successfully would usually build communities on their own away from the colonizers.
Capoeira in more ways than one, provided these slaves with a means to survive and cope through the unchartered territories that they escaped into. It was also a recreational activity for them in their newly-build communities, and it was a means for them to practice their martial arts. Eventually, the mastery of the skills created by these communities were to be used in unconventional methods. Capoeira artists subsequently became hit men, bodyguards, mercenaries and henchmen. It has even come to a point where Capoeira artists would create terror in the slum areas of Rio de Janeiro. These infamous Capoeira practitioners were called maltas.
It is for this reason that the practice of this art was banned by authorities for a time as it caused such chaos in the country of Brazil – anyone caught practicing Capoeira was to be arrested and imprisoned, and sometimes even tortured. Because of this, the practice of Capoeira eventually decreased. However, during about the 1930s, Capoeira repression was not as strong anymore. The masters of this art would begin to build schools to teach this skill and introduce it not as a means to create havoc and danger to society. You could say that in this period of time, Capoeira was growing to be known only as a martial art and form of dance and not a fighting tool anymore. By the 1970s, masters of this art would emigrate to other countries and begin teaching this practice elsewhere. This not only exported Capoeira as an art form to the world, but more importantly was a way of exporting a very unique aspect of the Brazilian culture to the entire world.