Filed under: Capoeira Life
Can you use capoeira in a fight?
How many times has someone asked you a similar question? If your experience is anything like mine, it’s probably more than you can count on two hands. For those of you who don’t play capoeira, you may ask yourself the same questions whenever you see capoeira in action.
The short answer is: yes and no.
There are many different facets of capoeira; is it a game, is it a dance, is it a fight? Because capoeira is such a complex art form (notice I say “art form” and not “martial art,” for me there’s a distinct difference) it’s not easy to answer yes or no, because it’s totally situational.
Capoeira As Self Defense
Photo by Fuzz (Flickr)
Capoeira clearly has martial aspects and applications. Depending on what style of capoeira you play you may stick closer to the fighting part, or you may stick closer to the playful part. No matter what your style is, there are clearly movements and techniques that would give you an edge in a street fight.
Capoeirstas may not train to fight (though some do) but if pressed, we each have moves in our arsenal that we could bring to combat. I’m talking about the basic kicks: bencao, pontape cruzado (martelo), chapa; as well as basic punches, knees, and elbows. Unless you’re very fast and very accurate, I wouldn’t recommend using a meia lua in a street fight. Nor would I recommend doing aus, roles, and floreios all over the place.
One of the biggest assets a capoeirista has is our ability to dodge and move around. We’re almost like a boxer in this regard, able to “bob and weave,” as it were. The point of capoeira is to escape movements, not to block them. So we have an edge dodging any incoming attack against us (whether it be a punch, kick, tackle, etc.). Likewise, I suspect the ginga may be another important part of the arsenal. Think about it: someone starts pushing you around, so you start to ginga. What would be going through the aggressor’s mind? He’d probably be confused, atleast for a little bit, which would give you an edge. Capoeiristas pride themselves on trickery and being unpredictable; I’m sure that would help in any fight.
For those of you out there who are looking for self defense techniques and nothing more, capoeira is not for you. I’d recommend Krav Maga. Capoeira is about so much more than fighting, but I have plenty of time to talk about all the other aspects in later posts (stay tuned!). Can you use capoeira in a street fight? Yes: movements learned in capoeira would aid you in a fight (kicks, strikes, etc.). No: I wouldn’t advise trying to backflip away from an opponent, that only works in the movies.
If you’re still not convinced, think about why capoeira was outlawed in Brazil. It was used by criminals and gangs to fight and kill eachother. Capoeiristas would hold razor blades between their toes. If that’s not using capoeira to a deadly effect, I don’t know what is.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment here on Faisca’s Capoeira Blog. I tried to kick things off with a bang. If you do like what you read here, be sure to check back often. And please, offer any comments, suggestions, questions, etc. that you may have. I’m just getting started now, but once I get rolling I hope to have a lot of great information for capoeiristas of all levels, even the ones who haven’t even started yet!
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