What are the different styles of capoeira?

Although each capoeira group (and each individual capoeirista) develops their own style, the styles of capoeira fall into three main categories: Angola, Regional, and Contemporânea. Here is an overview of the history and characteristics of each one.

Capoeira Angola

The older and more traditional form of capoeira, which was known as capoeira angola, was preserved by Mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira Pastinha), Mestre Waldemar, and others. Mestre Pastinha established the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola for the training and promotion of the style.

  • Played at a wide variety of speeds, from slow to fast. Generally played lower and closer than the other two styles. Games are long – on average ten minutes – and buying the game” (cutting in to play with another player) is seldom done.
  • Very loose and improvisational ginga.
  • Emphasis on malícia, strategy, and deception.
  • Uses a full bateria: three berimbaus of different sizes (each with its own role), one or two pandeiros, an agogô, reco-reco, and atabaque. Uses ladainhas, chulas, and corridos (three different types of songs).
  • Uses the chamadas, ritual sub-games in which one player “calls” the other to approach.
  • Does not use batizados or colored cords to mark the capoeiristas’ level of graduation.
  • Examples of angola groups include the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, Capoeira Angola Palmares, Filhos de Angola, and the academies of Mestres João Grande, João Pequeno, and Curió.

Capoeira Regional

Capoeira regional was created in Salvador in the early 20th century by Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado), who marketed a modified version of capoeira, with a greater emphasis on fighting technique, to the middle- and upper-class populations. Bimba originally called it the Luta Regional Bahiana (Bahian Regional Martial Art), and it later became known as capoeira regional.

  • Usually played at a more accelerated pace than capoeira angola. Games are primarily upright, on the feet, and shorter – on average two to three minutes.
  • Cadenced ginga.
  • Emphasis on technique.
  • Uses one berimbau and two pandeiros, and plays to the toques of regional: São Bento Grande de Bimba, Benguela, Iúna, Amazonas, Santa Maria.
  • Utilizes Bimba’s eight sequences and the cintura desprezada (cooperative throws).
  • Does not use chamadas or ladainhas.
  • There are very few traditional schools of capoeira regional in the world today, but the most famous is Fundação Mestre Bimba (under Mestre Nenel – the son of Mestre Bimba).

Capoeira Contemporânea

The capoeira contemporânea style was primarily developed by Grupo Senzala in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s. This style heavily influenced capoeira regional, and most of the groups called “regional” today are actually much closer to contemporânea than to Mestre Bimba’s original capoeira regional (which used a very particular and specific teaching method).

  • Generally faster-paced games played farther apart, of short duration – on average one minute. Buying the game is common practice.
  • Some contemporânea groups try to merge elements of angola and regional into a single style; others practice each one separately depending on what rhythm the bateria is playing.
  • Emphasis on technique.
  • A wide variety in the composition of the bateria – most groups use more than the simplified bateria of regional, but do not include all the instruments of angola. Some groups use ladainhas, chulas, and chamadas when playing to the angola toque; others do not.
  • More standardized ginga.
  • Some groups make use of ornamental flips during the game or to enter the roda.
  • Use of batizados and colored cords to classify the levels of the capoeiristas.
  • Capoeira contemporânea is by far the most widespread style both inside and outside Brazil. The more well-known groups include ABADA, Senzala, Capoeira Brasil, Cordão de Ouro, Topázio, and Axé Capoeira.


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    • Gameleira on December 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Banguela >< Benguela

    I would like to add that according to Mestre Nenel, a son of Mestre Bimba, Mestre Bimba used the term Banguela, not Benguela. (I've heard him say this myself during an event in Napoli last year)

    Banguela is (again according to Mestre Nenel) a term to signify people that are toothless with age. Meaning we play slow and without edge.

    The term Benguela is supposedly introduced by Mestre Camisa the founder of ABADA.

    • Timoha De Oña on January 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Why does most of the capoeirstas from your club are white ?
    I mean white people should not be allowed to be capoeiristas …
    I’m just saying …
    C’est quand même révelateur de certaines choses mais bon, c’est la vie !!
    Aurevoir blancs becs =)

      • Yaourt on August 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Following your logic, you should express neither in English nor in French. After all, both come from “white”culture, these kind of things are not meant to mix…Yeah, that´s definitely the way to mutual understanding and respect.

      En faites les trous du cul se ressemblent, quelque soit la couleur de la peau.

    • Nona on February 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    @Timoha De Oña :
    I am black, and I think you should not say those types of things…all people are welcome AS LONG as they respect the roots, history and culture. Yes, some folks are guilt of ‘diluting’ certain aspects, but barring that, there is no problem with anybody, including white folks taking part! Stop trolling!

    • Mohammed on April 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Hi , i like to train Capoeira but i have lost my teacher he died 2010 since that time i donot have nobody to teach me . I want you to help me with more basic so that i can improved in Capoeira more and more . From Mohammed Cesay in sierra leone west africa thank you .

  1. Very concise and pretty accurate, although many groups fall in between the cracks of these definitions. Two things: some Angola groups do use cordoes and have batizados although most do not. One of the core elements of Regional music is the Quadra. Please do not forget the Quadras when we speak of Capoeira Regional.


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