The Capoeira Blog

Simple Yet Beautiful Ground Movement Combination
April 22, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: Movements, Videos

chan, over at Soul Capoeira, posted a great little combination that I wanted to share with all of you.

The beauty of this combo is that it uses simple movements to create really beautiful, fluid, and impressive motion.

Make sure you go check out his post, because he gives some tips on the individual movements and progression of the combination that are definitely worth reading to get a better idea of what is going on.  Ground movement combination.

Now, go out and practice!  Especially if you live in New England where it is finally starting to get warm!


The Ginga
January 8, 2008, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Movements

The ginga is one of the most obvious aspects of capoeira that separates it from other martial arts.

Roughly translated into english, gingar means “to swing,” and the ginga allows a capoeirista to be in constant, unpredictable movement. The ginga is the cement that holds the capoeira game together, but unlike cement, the ginga is fluid and always-changing. (paraphrased from Capoeira 100, Taylor, p. 5)

If one is to be a skilled and cunning capoeira, he must master the ginga. But what does it mean to “master” the ginga? Is there such thing as a perfect ginga?

I’m not sure if someone could define the “perfect ginga” but I do know what it wouldn’t look like.

Many novice capoeiristas learn the ginga and try to mimic the exact movements of their instructor, much to the detriment of their overall capoeira game.

The ginga should never be a mechanical, robot-like dance step.

Yes, there are certain steps to the basic ginga that you must learn in order to have the basic idea, but if you constantly stick to one motion and leave no room for improvisation, you’re putting an extreme hindrance on your game.

This is what Nestor Capoeira has to say about the ginga,

As a general rule, the ginga in Capoeira Angola is very free and individualistic. The ginga in Regional, on the other hand, is very structured, and its basic steps can actually be shown in a diagram form. This basic structure, however, does not mean that a Regional player cannot add his own style to these moves as he begins to master them. (The Little Capoeira Book, Nestor Capoeira, p. 62)

Notice that Nestor mentions the structure of the regional ginga, but makes sure to emphasize that the regional player should add his own style to the basic moves.

He goes on to say that there are 5 steps to learning the ginga. These include learning the basic steps and practicing ginga alone, then facing another person, then learning how to improvise movements without using the basic ginga steps, and finally combining the improvisation exercise back in with the basic ginga. (For a more detailed examination of the 5 steps you should read The Little Capoeira Book, I’m not going to copy it all down here), and the goal is to:

[S]tart to articulate your personal way of moving, and blend it in with the basic capoeira ginga. (The Little Capoeira Book, Nestor Capoeira, p. 64)

The most important thing to remember is that the ginga must compliment and enhance your game. Basically, if you don’t understand ginga, you can’t understand the game. The ginga keeps you in constant movement, it sets you up for dodges, and leads you into attacks. Here is another quote from Nestor to emphasize the importance of the “always in motion” aspect of capoeira:

As the late mestre Canjiquinha revealed to us once, “You can block the blow of a very strong man but you can’t block a truck at 100 mph.” (Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game, Nestor Capoeira, p. 240).

So to answer, “Is there a perfect ginga?” I would say no, in the sense that there is one “model” ginga that everyone should strive to copy. The fundamental application of the ginga is to be unpredictable and unique, which inherently means that there should be no definitive, “perfect,” way of doing the ginga.

Everyone’s ginga is (and should be) different.

Someone might say “well Faisca, if someone wants to do a robot ginga impersonation, they should be able to do that. Because it’s unique!” But I would disagree. As I said before, the ginga must be fluid and allow you free range of motion, and the “robot ginga” leaves no room for quick improvisation, which is invariably detrimental to the capoeira game. It’s not easy to be aware of your surroundings if you’re constantly worried if your feet and hands are in the perfectly correct position.

In the end, the perfect ginga is one that allows the capoeirista to be in constant motion, one that is never predictable, and one that allows the capoeira to dodge or attack at an instant’s notice. And, perhaps most importantly, it allows the capoeirista to express his or her individuality in the roda.

What do you think?

2 Great Resources For Capoeira Moves
November 8, 2007, 2:08 pm
Filed under: Movements, Tips & Guides


When I first started to learn capoeira there were two websites that were invaluable to me in terms of learning how to do movements, learning the names of movements, and giving me ideas of different movements to put into combinations.

I want to share them both with you today. I’m sure many of you have already seen them, but there are probably many who haven’t.

Capoeira Corner and Chimp’s Capoeira Moves!

Please, do not use either of these websites as your only source for learning capoeira. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an experienced capoeirista as a teacher.

The best way to use these resources is as a way to learn the names of the different movements.

Remember, every school has different names for some moves, but in general the names you’ll find at Capoeira Basics and Chimp’s Capoeira Moves! are widely accepted by many capoeira groups.

Neither site has been updated in a long time (well, Capoeira Basics is apparently in a partnership with Virtual Capoeira, so that means there is at least someone who still has access to the site, but Chimp’s Capoeira is long dead), but their content is still available and still worthwhile.

Again, you should really only use these sites to learn the names of moves, and if you’re not a total beginner you could also use them to get ideas about some more advanced moves you want to learn (ask your instructor how to do them correctly!)

How To Do an Au Batido
July 29, 2007, 5:40 pm
Filed under: Movements, Tips & Guides

Whether you call it an au batido, amazonas, au malandro, au quebrado, or beja flor, the broken cartwheel kick is one of capoeira’s signature moves. It’s the move that almost everyone does automatically when someone wants to “see some capoeira” or wants to take a picture. This is with good reason, of course, because it’s a pretty cool move.

There are two very important things to remember when doing this movement:

1. It Is Not An Au – Though this move looks like an au, and can be done from an au for a surprise attack or defense, when it is done for “pose” purposes you should not think of it like an au. It is vital that you stop your momentum in the middle, and not continue over as you would in an au.

2. Kick To The Front, Not The Side – This move looks like a side kick, but it’s really a front kick. Your hips and torso need to twist a bit, almost so your back starts to face the ground (and in some advanced variations, especially the double leg, your back can totally face the ground). The leg kicks as if you were standing and kicking your leg straight up in front of you like you’re trying to kick yourself in the face.

Ok, so now we have those important reminders out of the way, let’s get on with the actual “how to.”

As the video says, you start “almost” like an au, but you need to stop your momentum. When you start to get airborne, you need to twist your hips a bit (so you can kick to the front), and kick the leg out. Try to keep the leg as straight as you can (but remember, there is much room for personal variation). The non-kicking leg can stay straight, or it can bend, or it can go with the other leg for the dual kick.

Your knee should come to rest on the side of your chest. Again, this is not a side kick. To see what I mean, stand up, and try to kick your leg up to the side and hit your head. It’s pretty much impossible (unless you’re super flexible) because your hip joint just doesn’t go that way.

After you’ve kicked you can grab the leg and try to hold it for a while, but if you’re using this as an actual attack you don’t have to do this.

To end the move, your leg should automatically snap back the way it came. Keep your leg pretty straight when landing, or else you’ll crouch down when you land, and unless you want to do that on purpose, it’s not the best way to land.

So now you know how to do the au batido. Once you’ve mastered the basic movement, you can try to switch it up a bit. Variations can include: two legs kick, bring both legs to your chest and bend knees (like a skater pose), switch au batido where you do follow the cartwheel momentum and kick on both sides, grab your kicking foot or your non kicking foot. The differences are endless.

If you have any questions, or requests for other movements, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. The most important thing you can do is practice, practice, practice.

Good luck!