What is Capoeira?

Capoeira is an artform unto itself.  It is often described as part martial art, part dance, but in reality, it is something that exceeds the sum of its parts. It is a form of playful, embodied confrontation that relies heavily on cunning, attentiveness, creativity, a sense of aesthetics in one’s movement, and the ability to respond intelligently to the movements of one’s opponent in real time.  It contains elements of self-defense, but it is much more than a mere fighting style.  It has its own culture, its own sense of community, and its own music.  One of the most highly regarded Capoeira masters of all time, Mestre Pastinha, said that “[Capoeira’s] ends are inconceivable to even the wisest capoeirista.”  It is more something to give oneself over to than something to understand rationally.

A more expansive version of the history of Capoeira can be found on the “What is Capoeira?” page on this site, but briefly, it began as a ritualized dance-fight-art practiced by African slaves in Brazil and has since spread around the globe in many different styles and variations.  The style practiced by our group, Grupo Senzala, makes use of a variety of kicks, evasive movements, and acrobatics.  We train these techniques in isolation and in short sequences, but we string them all together fluidly and creatively when two of us play with each other in the “roda,” or the circle in which we face each other as collaborative opponents.


Is capoeira similar to MMA?

Some Mixed Martial arts fighters use some elements of Capoeira – mainly, its powerful kicks and the solid defensive training that it provides.  But most forms of modern Capoeira do not emphasize using violence to force your opponent into submission so much as surprising them or overwhelming them with physical maneuvers that are hard to respond to within the flow of the game.  There is very little in the way of forceful contact in our style of Capoeira, especially for beginners.

Is Capoeira similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Again, most forms of modern Capoeira do not emphasize “taking down” your opponent, especially with grappling and wrestling-type ground fighting, since this would disrupt the rhythmic flow of the game that is so fundamental to Capoeira.


Where in Manhattan is the Capoeira Class being thought?

The studio is at 390 Broadway, which is in Tribeca just below Canal Street. Ring the buzzer for the 5th floor and come right up.


Where in Queens is the Capoeira Class being thought?

The Queens classes take place in Jackson Heights at 80-20 Roosevelt Avenue.


How I can find the Capoeira studio in Manhattan?

The closest subway stop is the Canal Street N/Q/R/W train station, but it is also accessible by several other lines that stop at Canal St.  From closest to farthest:  N/Q/R/W, J/Z, 6, A/C/E, and the 1 train Franklin Street station.