Oct 26 2011

Does capoeira have a belt ranking system?

Some capoeira groups have a ranking system (cords – cordas or cordões in Portuguese – are used rather than belts). Capoeira regional and capoeira contemporânea groups tend to use cords, whereas capoeira angola groups do not.

The cord system in capoeira is not standardized; every group has a different order of colors. Some follow the colors of the Brazilian flag – green, yellow, blue, and white – and others introduce other colors, such as red, orange, purple, and brown. Many have mixed-color belts that are in between the main color levels. Check out The Capoeira List’s collection of various groups’ cord systems.

Different groups also have different requirements for advancement to the next cord level. The strictest groups actually test their students in fitness, movements, game, music, and knowledge of the art’s history and philosophy. However, most capoeira groups either have loose “requirements” for each cord level, or leave it up to the instructor to simply decide when each student is ready to receive the next cord. Students usually receive their cords at an event called a batizado (baptism) and/or troca de cordões (changing of cords).

The cord ranking system did not exist in capoeira until the 20th century. Mestre Bimba, the creator of capoeira regional, used to give out colored handkerchiefs in order to distinguish the graduated students from the novices. Mestre Carlos Senna of the group Senavox created the first colored cord ranking system in 1955.

3 comments

    • Charlie on August 20, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I have a few questions after i read this article. My first question is what if the classes do not give cordas to the students? My other question is how long does it take from cord one to the second one? One month like in teakwondo?
    Thanks
    take care

    • Lúcio on July 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    In Capoeira, pretty much the only kind that doesn’t give Corda based in rank is Capoeira Angola, as they mostly based their reaching different rank as your ability to actually maneuver around the roda, and your physicality. They don’t want to do a lot of ranking systems because everyone moves at there own pace, and they don’t want anyone to be discouraged because they don’t have a certain color Corda.

    And as for the actual reaching other ranks, because there is a lot of physical training involved, as well as being able to speak and sing in Português de Brasil, every Troça de Corda (changing of the cords) happens once a year so that you can fully prepare yourself without risk of injury, and because some things in Capoeira take time to perfect.

  1. This is our System. We user Fita’s a thin colored string. But basically you must earn your first Fita and every one after that.

    It is our belief that a well-rounded capoeirista must not only master all aspects of the art—movements, sequences, songs, instruments, jôgos—but must also demonstrate a solid understanding of the historical and philosophical contexts through which capoeira has evolved and is evolving. With this in mind, we have established an examination system which tests the individual on all of these qualities. An examination consists of the following components:

    Stamina (running, swimming, or biking)
    Strength (push-ups, sit-ups, handstand push-ups)
    Movements (attacks, defenses, fundamentals)
    Sequências (adapted versions of Mestre Bimba’s sequences)
    Jôgos (each testing different aspects of the game: harmony, plasticity, rhythm, diversity of movement, control of movement, control of the domain of the roda, combativity)
    Music (berimbau [various toques], pandeiro, atabaque, agogô, reco-reco, songs)
    Philosophy and History (written papers on various subjects, such as quilombos, Candomblê, capoeira politics)
    Our system is based on the first system of classification that was developed for capoeira. It was created by our mestre, Carlos Senna, in 1955. Individuals that successfully pass an examination receive a fita (tape-like string that is tied around one’s waist). The level of advancement is determined by the color of the fita:

    Fita Cinza (grey)
    Fita Lilás (lilac)
    Fita Abobora (peach)
    Fita Vermelho (red)
    Fita Azul (blue)
    Fita Amarelo (yellow)
    Fita Verde (green)
    Upon reaching the level of Fita Verde one is given the title of professor. A professor is considered to have mastered all elements of capoeira and is free to further its cause by opening his or her school, introducing the art to new parts of the world, and playing other active roles in the preservation of the art.

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