Oct 26 2011

Capoeira: Metaphors in Motion

Written by Eliane Dantas dos Anjos 

…To win your love I tried mandinga
Learning capoeira ginga
Till I swept you off your feet
And faster set your heart to beat…

(After Verdade: By Nelson Rufino & Carlinhos Santana)

The words ginga and rasteira conjure up images of capoeira. They are the basic pattern and most familiar move identified everywhere with this form. Even in hit songs, like Verdade, sung by Zeca Pagdinho. Ginga is that rhythmic motion from which capoeira practitioners make their attack and defense moves, whereas a sweep (rasteira) is a takedown move in which your feet are swept from under you.

To understand nomenclature, that is, capoeira terminology, it helps to understand its origins and direction. Before the late 19th century there were no writings or depictions of capoeira, a martial style said to have been developed by Negro slaves who used it in self-defense in the struggle for freedom.

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Source: Texts from Brazil n.14, produced by the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil.