The History of Capoeira

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art as well as a cultural experience.  Capoeira was created by African slaves in Brazil as a form of self-defense and cultural preservation against the oppressive slave owners.  It is played in a roda (circle) by two capoeiristas who exchange a spontaneous combination of kicks, offensive moves, acrobatics and floor maneuvers. While the capoeiristas in the center of the roda engage in a dynamic and intriguing conversation, others forming the roda sing in chorus and clap to the rhythm played on the berimbau, the stringed bow-like instrument that leads the roda.  The atabaque, pandeiro and agogo accompany the berimbau.

Capoeira was illegal for many years until Manuel dos Reis Machado, better known as Mestre Bimba, succeeded in gaining legality for the art and opened the first capoeira academy in Salvador, in the state of Bahia.  Today, there are numerous capoeira schools throughout Brazil, many of which have branches in various countries worldwide.


Mestre Ralil Raizes do Brasil

Mestre Ralil

Raizes do BrasilBrasilia, Brasil

In 1982, Mestre Ralil founded Centro Cultural de Capoeira Raízes do Brasil in Brasilia, Brazil with the goal of empowering the city’s under-represented children and adults.  Inspite of facing incredible socio-economic odds, many of Mestre Ralil’s students have employed the lessons of capoeira to overcome challenges outside of the roda and now thrive as active and visible leaders.

Mestre Ralil also participates in social outreach projects in partnership with the city, state and federal governments. As a teacher and activist, it is always his objective that capoeira is recognized as an avenue for creating social change, wherever it is practiced.

Raizes do Brasil now has branches in all 24 states of Brazil, several European countries and 7 schools in the United States.

Mestre Papiba Raizes do Brasil

Mestre Papiba

Raizes do BrasilSanta Cruz, CA

Mestre Papiba began training with Mestre Ralil at the age of 16, and continued to train with him until coming to the U.S. in 1991. He arrived in Santa Cruz in 1992 where he began his own chapter of the school. Raizes do Brazil Capoeira, Santa Cruz now offers classes five days a week for adults, teens and children.