Capoeira Reading List

Looking for a good place to start on your journey to becoming an angoleiro? I have found FICA DC’s Archive a good starting place, check them out here.

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Capoeira helps children heal psycho-social wounds

Life Capoeira Blog

October 6, 2009 by Picole

In Syria, ‘capoeira’ helps Palestinian-Iraqi children heal psycho-social wounds

AL-TANF CAMP, Syrian Arab Republic, 2 October 2009 – In al-Tanf, a refugee camp set up in the no-man’s-land near the Syrian-Iraqi border, Palestinian children who have fled the conflict in Iraq participate in various activities designed to help them heal their psycho-social wounds. Full Story

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Capoeira as Graceful Resistance

Kung Fu Tea

***I am happy to announce that our first substantive essay for 2018 will be a guest post by Lauren Miller Griffith.  While this is Prof. Griffith’s first appearance on Kung Fu Tea she is already  leaving her mark on the wider Martial Arts Studies community.  Her recent book, In Search of Legitimacy: How Outsiders Become Part of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Tradition(Berghahn Books, 2016) will be of great interest to anyone who employs ethnography, or participant observation, as a research method.  It is also a wonderful addition to the growing literature on capoeira.  Her current post tackles a critical question, namely, to what degree might participation in a martial arts community influence someone’s social and political views? How does this process typically unfold?  As a political scientist I have always found these questions to be very interesting, and I think that after reading her thought provoking essay you will as…

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Capoeira and Youth

Full Movie (I Play Capoeira on Alto da Sereia)

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.08.01 PM

This is an understated yet moving film about nine kids of different ages who play capoeira, as part of the Nzinga Capoeira Angola Group in a small, low-income community known as Alto da Sereia or Mermaid Hill, in the city of Salvador in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia.

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Knee Pain?

I have had knee problems, and I think based on what others have told me its due to the dispersant of Synovial Fluid in my knees. So, what should I be doing? well luckily I have been already instinctively doing half of what needs to be done:

1.Eat oily fish regularly to benefit from Omega 3 and 6. Re-assess your whole diet with the help of a nutritionist or dietitian, if necessary.

2.Consume fresh pineapple often as it contains bromelain, an enzyme that has a role in reducing joint inflammation.

3.Add soy products to your diet to encourage the hyaluronic acid production. Soy foods boost estrogen and promote hyaluronic acid.

4.Prepare magnesium-rich foods for regular consumption like apples, pears, peaches, melons, avocados, bananas and tomatoes. They encourage hyaluronic acid levels to rise.


For more info visit

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Nutrition Made Clear
Professor Roberta H. Anding

Nutrition Made Clear is an invitation to a journey to wellness—an inspirational, practical, hands-on guide to understanding the science of nutrition and how what we eat and drink affects our bodies and our lives. We begin with a revealing study of why we eat what we do and how we gather information about nutrition. We then take an in-depth look at the core of our body—our digestive tract. We continue with a detailed review of the essential building blocks of diet and nutrition—protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals—learning about their critical roles in a healthy diet.  The lectures then turn to topics critically important to the American public: the dietary links to major chronic diseases and disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and disorders of the digestive tract. The lectures are full of informative advice on what these illnesses are and practical suggestions for how we can lower our risk for acquiring them.  The intent of the lectures is not to preach or scold but to present a wise but realistic approach to nutrition. Among the best—and most encouraging—advice in this course is “Progress, not perfection.” In other words, even small changes toward improving our diet and exercise choices can make a big difference in our health.

In later lectures, we take a balanced look at the pros and cons of sugar substitutes and fat replacers, organic and conventional foods, and herbal therapies. We also cover topics from the importance of food safety to reading food labels (they are more complicated—and more important—than you think!). We survey the latest types of products on supermarket shelves (probiotics, prebiotics, and functional foods) and discover exciting new advancements in the science of nutrition.

In keeping with its goal to be relevant and beneficial for everyone, the course provides all we need to develop nutrition and exercise plans that not only work but are sustainable. After all, effective diet and nutrition choices cannot be quick fixes characterized by hunger and deprivation—they are lifestyle choices that can lead to a longer and healthier life for anyone at any age.



Credible websites and sources of nutritional education include

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
American College of Sports Medicine:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
The Food and Nutrition Information Center:

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Written by Ted Gousse

I have always had trouble with muscle tension.  I would go to Capoeira class and stretch what I could and make it through class but about an hour later I would be walking like the \”tin man.\” Aside from accounting for the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles after a long workout, other nutrients are exhausted in the body as well.

Proper daily hydration and a balanced diet is what you hear but the rest of the details are left out like what to eat and when and why.  Banana\’s are popular for their potassium but that might not always work to relieve most of the pain and tension the body is expressing.  Something else is missing and that is Magnesium.  I started slow because, as a vegetarian, my iron intake is lower than that of someone who eats meat and the muscles need a consistant blood supply for the activities they facilitate.  So, I needed to find a food that would suppliment that and I had success in finding the right foods by considering the foods involved in nourishing the muscles.

I finally came across molasses because it is considered an acceptable iron suppliment for the day.  What I also found was that the debilitating low back pain I would experience after class was about 60-70% gone.  I was so relieved that I found this that I continued looking for why it worked so well.  Molasses is rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium!  That was a piece of the puzzle I did not have before so when I later found that it helped the muscles to relaxand this was the reason for the relief I was feeling .  Now I take Floradix Calcium-Magnesium as a daily suppliment and my muscle tension is reletively non-existant. If you are the \”heady\” type you can continue your journey through this link.

If you were wondering \”how am I gonna make this part of my healthy lifestyle?\” Here are a few websites that might make it easier for you to do your food shopping next week.

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5 songbook sites

These five sites give lyrics to hundreds and hundreds of capoeira songs, from both angola and regional/contemporânea. Some even have sound clips so that you can listen to the melodies. Take a look… then get out there and sing in the roda!

  • Pequeno Cancioneiro de Capoeira Angola: Hands-down the most comprehensive songbook I’ve found thusfar for capoeira angola. 83 pages of ladainhas and corridos from Mestres Moraes, Valmir, Cobrinha, Joao Grande, Roberval, Janja, Lua Rasta, and others – compiled by a member of Capoeira Angola Raíz in Costa Rica. It includes the author of each song, if known, and the CD where the song can be heard.
  • Capoeira Music: This site’s mission is to cherish the music and songs we all love, show our appreciation to all the Mestres and Compositors that created the music and to spread the art of Capoeira. They are continually adding new songs to the database.
  • 159-page songbook: Compiled by Espaguete of Bantus Capoeira, this book contains over 380 songs (and English translations) gathered from various sources on the internet. Also contains a pronunciation guide and a few great articles on musicality and spirituality in capoeira!
  • Just lyrics – plain and simple


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Why sing Paraná ê?

Much of capoeira’s philosophy and history is recorded between the lines of its songs, not forgetting that part of this history is linked with that of Brazil. This is why it’s important to research and question the meaning of some songs, since their main purpose is to pass on a message, whether immediately or for later reflection.

So we are going to talk a little bit about the historical content within one of capoeira’s most popular songs: Paraná ê. It refers to the War of Paraguay, but what was this war?

It began in 1865 and lasted five years. At the time, Paraguay was the only country in Latin America that could be considered independent, and it found itself in full industrial development, with weapons and gunpowder factories. Unproductive land was being transformed into state plantations, generating employment for the whole population.

Impeding the process of Paraguay was a big challenge for England, because Paraguay became a big competitor in productivity. Brazil and Argentina, on the other hand, were interested in taking possession of parts of Paraguayan land.

The spark that initiated the war occurred on November 24, 1864, when Paraguayan president Solano López cut ties with Brazil, captured the Brazilian ship Marques de Olinda, and invaded the state of Mato Grosso (which, together with Paraná, are the only states that border Paraguay).

At the end of all the battles, the Paraguayans took the worst casualties. 75% of the country’s population was killed; of 800,000 inhabitants, only 194,000 were left. With this victory, England once again returned to economic domination of the region, and Brazil and Argentina managed to take 140,000 kilometers of the land they wanted.

But what about the slaves? How did they enter the War?

The whites “logically” didn’t want to be on the front line of battle, so they created a law saying that blacks who entered the war and returned alive would win their liberty. What the whites didn’t anticipate was that the majority of the blacks who went… actually returned!!

The slaves had an advantage thanks to capoeira, because at the time, battles depended more on hand-to-hand fighting than on weapons. So, on their way back, on the margins of the Paraná River, the now ex-slaves sang:

Vou dizer à minha mulher, Paraná
Capoeira que venceu, Paraná…     [Venceu a guerra]
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná.
Ela quis bater pé firme, Paraná        [Ela = a guerra]
Isso não aconteceu, Paraná…

I will tell my wife, Paraná
That capoeira won [the war],
Paraná Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná.
It [the war] wanted to stamp its foot hard, Paraná
This did not happen, Paraná

Despite the tragedy for Paraguay, the war was an important milestone in the life of slaves in Brazil. Because of this, it is commemorated to this day in ladainhas and corridos throughout the country.

From Manuel de Querino’s “Bahia of the Old Days,” written in 1916

During the war with Paraguay, the government made use of a large number of capoeiristas – many by free and spontaneous choice and a great number voluntarily constrained. And the efforts of these defenders of the Country were useful in the battlefield, mainly in the bayonet assaults. The proof of this is in the brilliant weapons work practiced by the platoon called “Zuavos Bahianos” during the assault on the fort of Curuzú, where they disbanded the Paraguayans and bravely drove in the national flag.

Cezario Alvaro da Costa, a capricious and well-behaved man, was not a professional, but a competent lover of capoeira. He marched from Bahia to the south as a corporal in the squadron of the seventh battalion of army hunters. He began to distinguish himself during the first encounters with the enemy, and was recognized by his superiors. He gradually rose until he reached a high rank.

One day, after combat, Cezario da Costa found two Paraguayans and faced them bravely. After fierce battle, helped by what he knew of bayonet fencing, he managed to defeat the adversaries. This act of bravery, together with others he had previously shown, led him to be promoted and given special honors. This officer passed away in Bage, Rio Grande do Sul, in the rank of captain.

Antonio Francisco de Mello, a native of Pernambuco, followed the campaign in the position of first cadet sergeant assistant in the ninth battalion of army hunters. He was not just a simple lover of capoeira; he also possessed a pronounced tendency towards a professional fearlessness. This definitely harmed him, delaying his promotion despite possessing certain personal importance and training. The opinions written by the commanders in the biannual records, the book that evaluated the behavior of lower officers, were not favorable to him. Cadet Mello used loose pants, a flashy hat with a band, and had that ambiguous manner of those who understand mandinga. Francisco de Mello was part of the contingent on board the warship Parnaíba, in the memorable battle of Riachuelo, about which the commander of the ship stated:

“The contingent of the ninth battalion acted as expected of Brazilian soldiers. Enthusiasm in the act of boarding, valor and brave effort in the hand-to-hand fighting engaged in with the enemy, exceed the highest praise.”

After this action, cadet Mello was promoted and received awards. He remained in the campaign until the year 1869, when he returned to Brazil and was added to the fifth battalion in Rio de Janeiro. He used to keep watch at night, making a review every hour. Whoever was lacking in the review marched for two hours on the next day. He was the only official who could restrain the wild soldiers on payday. He was promoted to captain, and passed away in one of the Northern States. I bring these two examples to prove that capoeira is useful in certain occasions.

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Mestre Moraes on “bullying” in capoeira

 click here for video

Mestre Moraes President and founder of GCAP – Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho Masters’ in Social History, Federal University of Bahia I’d like to try to pass on to you all of my concerns about the theme I’m bringing to the table regarding the issue of “bullying” in capoeira. We know that, in the various African cultures, giving a name to a child when he or she is born is the motive for ceremonies that merge with the assuming of a particular position. The giving of a name means maintaining the relationship of ancestrality between the child and his/her predecessors. From the African ports, the slave trade has been removing the names of Africans. It was a strategy for denying identity, denying the relationship that this child, man, or woman had – with baptism. It would be better if it was called a ceremony or any other name besides baptism, because the term “baptism” itself is a colonizer. With the arrival of these Africans in the Diasporas, this practice of name removal was continued. The objective was that they would remain unknowns in the new world, with no possibility of contacting their relatives. What saddens me is knowing that practices that were once utilized to repress those men and women who the society of the time called the “dangerous classes” – dangerous because they didn’t accept the negation of their right to liberty – that we, capoeiristas, continue to this day the practice of giving nicknames to capoeiristas (practitioners of capoeira), justifying capoeira nicknames with tradition. It’s an ironic mistake, because there was no tradition of giving nicknames. This tradition would not have been accepted, as it was not accepted at any time by the African descendants, by the Africans who were trafficked to this country (I want to specifically speak about Brazil). They didn’t accept this form of treatment which, however it was done, was always pejorative. I call it “pejorative” not to have your own name, the name of your origin, and having to accept a Catholic name chosen by the slave master or by the slave trader. Contradictorily – in the face of this battle that all we Afro-descendants and other ethnic segments of this society have fought to have possibility of gaining our authority and liberty on all social levels –  unfortunately in a practice that we believe would be responsible for continuing the battle for liberty, continues having the practice of many slave masters and traders – and this practice occurs in capoeira. What can be said about a capoeirista who, when he rises the level of capoeira mestre, he continues to accept being called Urubu (“vulture”), Rato (“rat”), Sapo (“frog”), Macaco (“monkey”) [Translator’s note: In Brazil, it is extremely offensive to call a dark-skinned person “monkey”]  – and justifies this with tradition? And your son will train capoeira with one of these capoeira mestres, who then resolves (also justifying it in the name of tradition) to call your son – who was named after his grandfather or great-grandfather, or after a singer you really liked who reminds you of happy moments – and you name your son after this singer, and then a capoeira mestre appears and decides authoritatively that from that moment on, in the name of tradition, your son will be called “vulture.” He will be called “frog.” He will be called “spider.” He will be named after any of these animals that only fit into the mestre’s understanding of tradition. Now, what happens in reality is that I’ve asked many capoeira mestres, capoeiristas, and capoeira beginners if their parents call them by their apelido (nickname). And they say, “No. My dad doesn’t like it. But I tell my dad that my mestre said that this apelido is for tradition. And I respect tradition, and I respect my mestre, so I want to keep the nickname, even though you don’t like it, mom and dad.” So today, the mestre of capoeira, contradictorily – I don’t want to generalize, but I can state that 90% of capoeira mestres have continued this practice. I’ve been the victim of problems as a result of my battle against this practice in capoeira. There are capoeiristas who disown me because I want to discuss it and bring this discussion to society. What’s interesting is the proposal of Law 10.639, a federal law that guides the inclusion of cultures of African roots in elementary, middle, and high schools, in basic education, and we know that our children are there. Capoeira is being included; it is part of the curriculum of various state and city schools. And our sons are there, at the disposition of these capoeira mestres who believe that they can no longer be Jose – that they, because they are black, can be “monkey,” “vulture,” or whatever else interests these capoeira mestres. I’ve had the experience – the happy experience – of talking with some capoeiristas, including Urubu (“vulture”), who I mention because he is a capoeira mestre in Rio de Janeiro. He publicly stated that he no longer wanted anyone to call him Urubu because I said to him, “Your mother didn’t give birth to a vulture.” He said, “That’s true, mestre. My mother gave birth to me.” – and he said that he no longer wanted anyone to call him “vulture.” Another, because he is tall and black, his nickname is “Chaminé” (chimney). He also decided that no one should call him Chaminé any longer. And many others have such nicknames. Logically, because we knowing that the European beauty standard reigns in this country – of course, with the globalization of capoeira, the Europeans have different nicknames. Their nicknames are less aggressive – or they are reminiscent of heroes or “beautiful” people as portrayed on TV, and that’s why they have different nicknames than African descendants. So, normally the nickname of an African descendent is pejorative, disrespectful, and no one has done anything about it. I call attention to this, ladies and gentlemen, because if you intend to put your kids in capoeira, or if any of you yourselves practice capoeira and have a nickname, I hope that you begin to reflect on the fact that you have a name, and whoever has a name doesn’t need a nickname. Regarding the question of “bullying”: does “bullying” exist in capoeira? Could my children and your children who train capoeira and are in school feel happy being called “monkey” or “telephone booth” or “cripple” and other such things that capoeiristas have been called? This is the reflection that I bring to the table, and I want to give thanks for the opportunity to bring this discussion to an audience that I’m sure will contribute in some way, with me, so that this subject is shared, is talked about in the world of capoeira and throughout society, so that we can try to call the attention of the capoeiristas – that they don’t need nicknames. They need names. So I want to give thanks and to say that I don’t practice capoeira only to throw my legs up in the air as many are doing. I believe that in capoeira we need to pay attention to the socio-political issues. Yes, we need to take capoeira all over the world; yes, we need to have capoeira in schools, but capoeira needs to be discussed within the molds that our capoeira ancestors did – battling. Today, of course, do we need to pick up weapons? We don’t – yet. We have another weapon, which is education. And to educate is to try to elevate the capoeirista’s self-esteem, to lift our students’ self-esteem so that they are interested in living in society, discussing, questioning our society. But of course – as long as they have nicknames rather than names, they will not be citizens. And if they are not citizens, then they will not be part of this society, which has been discriminatory for a long time and is only changing its discrimination into new forms of being prejudiced against our people of African descent. Thank you very much, and I want to thank TEDx Pelourinho for this opportunity. I want to be in other times and other places; I’m willing to take this discussion to any place. If any of you are directors of schools or if you have a space where I can share this concern of mine, I’m always willing. Thank you very much. Have you experienced prejudice in capoeira? Do you think capoeira nicknames can be pejorative? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

-Capoeira Connection

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