The Capoeira Blog

Capoeira Terms


amazonas (au batido): one hand cartwheel kick; trademark capoeira move

armada: basic upright spin kick

arrastao – capoeira takedown, pulling both legs from under an opponent

aú: capoeira style cartwheel

bananeira: handstand or headstand

banda: movement to trip or flank an opponent

bencao: “blessing”; a front kick

cabeçada: headbutt

chamada: literally to call; ritualized movement across roda (mainly used in Angola)

chapa/pisao: flat footed kick to the side

comprar de jogo – to buy a game, entering the circle by cutting in on another player

entrar: to enter

esquiva: escape movement

floreios – acrobatic movements

ginga: basic movement of capoeira

jogar: to play

passape: outside to inside crescent kick

negativa: literally “negative”; basic defense

macaco: “monkey flip”; a low back handspring

meia lua de compasso: low spining kick with hands on the ground

mortal: backflip

piao de cabesa (de mao): spin on the head (spin on the hands)

pontape cruzado/martelo: “roundhouse kick”; strike with the top of foot

queixada: circular kick; strike with the outside of the foot

rasteira: a sweeping trip; trademark capoeira move

role: “roll”; basic defense

tesoura: “scissors”; a takedown

volta ao mundo: “around the world”; circling the roda


Angola: traditional capoeira; usually played slow and close to the ground

angoleiro: a practitioner of the capoeira angola style

atabaque: a drum

ataque – attacking move or movement initiative

axe: life force; energy of capeira

batizado – the capoeira initiation ceremony; baptism

beriba: wood for making berimbau

berimbau: one-stringed precussion instrument

Besouro: a famous capoeirista who had legendary mandinga, a beetle

Bimba: a famous deceased capoeira mestre; father of capoeira regional

cabaça: gourd resonator of the berimbau

capoeirista: one who plays capoeira

camará: comrade

caxixí: shaker played with the berimbau

corda: “cord”; capoeira belt used to show advancement

corridos: call and response songs accompanying action in the circle

costas: back (anatomy)

defesa: defensive movement

dobrao: coin used to play the berimbau

esquiva: escape movement [basic movement]

fechado: to be closed

fechar: to close

frente: front

gunga: bass berimbau

hora: hour; time

jogador – player

jogo: game; a game of capoeira; the verb is jogar

ladainha: introductory solo of roda or game, usually sung by a mestre

maculêlê: stick fighting dance

malandragem: double-dealing or cunning

malandro: crook or streetwise person

malícia: deception, trickery, double-dealing

mandigueiro: a tricky capoeira player

mangangá: sorcerer, healer in the Afro-Brazilian tradition

mar: ocean

medio: middle pitched berimbau

mestre: master, senior capoeira teacher

moleque: street urchin; punk

nome de guerra – nickname given to a player in the course of his training, sometimes as part of a batizado initiation

pandeiro: a tambourine

Pastinha: famous deceased teacher of Capoeira Angola from Bahia

patuá: amulet worn around the neck for protection

pé do berimbau: position in front of the berimbau

reco-reco: ribbed bamboo scraper

Regional – innovative, modern style of capoeira, associated with Mestre Bimba

roda: circle; circle made of people where capoeira is played

Salvador: capital city of Bahia; birthplace of Capoeira as we know it today

samba: brazilian rhythm and dance

sequencia – sequence of moves learned by players in Regional style

solta: no hands; a jump (au solta)

tocar: to touch; to play music

vadicao: loafing, hanging around; synonym for capoeira

vaqueta: stick used to strike the string of the berimbau

viola: the highest pitched berimbau

Glossary adapted from Ring of Liberation and Capoeira Angola Club (Boulder, CO).


Every capoeira school uses different names for certain moves. An au batido in one school may be an amazonas in another school. For the most part, I’m going to be using the names that CapuraGinga uses. Many of these are common across all walks of capoeira life, but some may not be. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be too confusing. When I talk about a certain move I know is named differently in CapuraGinga, I will try to point it out.


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