Capoeira: The different styles

Two styles of capoeira were developed throughout history, namely Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional. The last few decades, Capoeira Contemporânea, can be added to this list. Here follows more information about these styles.

Capoeira Regional and Mestre Bimba

Mestre Bimba

Capoeira Regional is a modern capoeira-style developed by Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado). Mestre Bimba was born on the 23th of November 1900 in Salvador. When he was only 12 years old he started practicing capoeira. Bimba became a great talent and a great fighter, and not only in the capoeira roda's. Mestre Bimba was a visionary; he transformed the traditional, illegal form of capoeira to a modern version and started teaching it in an academy, which was the first capoeira academy ever. Thanks to Mestre Bimba's help, capoeira was legalized by the government. The mestre removed movements that he thought were inefficient, eliminated a great deal of rituals and added new moves from other martial arts, e.g. batuque. This way he made capoeira a more efficient martial art. His Capoeira Regional became incredibly popular in every layer of the population. Many of his students became mestres themselves -some of which are still alive- and spread themselves throughout Brazil to teach the renewed version of capoeira. Eventually some of these mestres travelled to other countries and that's how the world got in touch with capoeira for the first time. Today capoeira is played all over the world, thanks to the vision of Mestre Bimba. The mestre himself died in 1974, but is in fact still one of the greatest masters capoeira has ever known.

Capoeira Regional is strongly different from the traditional form capoeira, which is called Capoeira Angola nowadays. Regional is played while standing and the movements are a lot faster and more explosive. Regional also contains less traditions and unwritten rules and looks more aggressive than Capoeira Angola.

Capoeira Angola and Mestre Pastinha

Besides Capoeira Regional there is also Capoeira Angola. Capoeira Angola is the name given to the classic form of capoeira to be able to distinguish it from the modern Capoeira Regional. This authentic capoeira-style became almost completely forgotten because of the rise of Regional. Mestre Pastinha took the responsibility together with some other mestres to protect the classic form of capoeira and to keep it alive.

Mestre Pastinha

Vincente Ferreira Pastiña was born on the fifth of April in 1889. When he was young he learned capoeira from an African named Benedito and later he became an excellent capoeirista. Mestre Pastinha used capoeira for his job as a bouncer and gained some street credibility. Years later, after Pastinha even stopped playing capoeira he was asked by some mestres to open a school for Capoeira Angola to compete with mestre Bimba.

The academy of Pastinha had a lot of success and he kept teaching until he was very old. Pastinha was blind and even bound to a chair, but he still kept teaching the principles of capoeira and shared his many experiences with his students. His two most known students are mestre João Pequeno and João Grande. João Pequeno died at the end of 2011 and João Grande is still teaching in New York. Despite of the fact that Capoeira Angola has known some difficulties on its path, it has returned and is more popular than ever.

Angola and Regional are remarkably different, Capoeira Angola for instance is played way slower than Regional, but in Angola faster games and moves also occur. Capoeira Angola still faces prejudices: "Angola is slow, boring, old-fashioned, not exciting and has no use as a martial art". When people join an Angola roda for the first time, the opposite will be proven immediately! Angoleiros are very crafty, unpredictable and misleading, that makes them very dangerous capoeiristas. Capoeira Angola contains far more rituals and unwritten rules than Regional, but it also resembles more of the old capoeira than the modern styles. There are also movements which can only be used in Capoeira Angola or Regional and which are inappropriate when you use them in other styles.

Capoeira Contemporânea

Capoeira Contemporânea - Mundo Capoeira Turkey

In the last hundred years capoeira has strongly evolved. Everywhere in the world you can find capoeira and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of groups and mestres. This popularity has had his consequences for the sport itself. The real Capoeira Regional is almost extinct, there are only a few groups left who practice the original style of Bimba. Almost everything we see today in capoeira and call ?Regional? isn?t Regional anymore, but we call it Capoeira Contemporânea or contemporary capoeira. All modern groups teach this form, even Mundo Capoeira. Capoeira Angola has also been through a big evolution, but changes were less noticeable. Capoeira Contemporânea is faster than Regional, harder, more spectacular and more explosive. How capoeira will develop in the future is a mystery.