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Culturally emblematic and a genuinely Brazilian sport, capoeira is a mixture of martial arts, dance, and ritual developed by African slaves in Brazil sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century.

The unique combination of ginga (a rhythmic dance step), evasive ducks, and clever blows was particularly popular in Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and Pernambuco.

The movements are always accompanied by litanies (chants) and instruments like the berimbau (a single string percussion instrument), the pandeiro (a kind of tambourine), and the atabaque drum.

Despite a sweeping ban by the government in I890, capoeira thrived in secret. In 1932 , Manuel dos Reis Machado, known as Mestre Bimba, founded the Centro de Cultura Fisica center in Salvador.

The school allowed him to circumvent the government’s prohibition. Mestre Bimba incorporated new techniques, including movements adapted from other martial arts.

In 1937 he gave a special performance for President Getúlio Vargas, who was so impressed with the „true national sport“ that he revoked the ban.

In 1942, the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola sports center was set up by Vicente Ferreira Pastinha, known as Mestre Pastinha, who promoted a slower style of capoeira more similar to that practiced by slaves.

Today, both styles are popular. Bimba’s son, Mestre Nenel, founded the Fundaҫão Mestre Bimba, which supports the Escola de Capoeira Filhos de Bimba school (Rua Gregório de Matas, 51, basement, Pelourinho).

Open performances (which allow visiting capoeira enthusiasts to participate) are held on Saturdays at 11am.

The building that used to be the Centro de Cultura Fisica is now the Associaҫão de Capoeira Mestre Bimba (Rua das Laranjeiras, 1, Pelourinho), which holds exhibitions on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7pm, and open performances on Thursdays at 8pm.

Mestres João Pequeno and Morais, who were Pastinha’s apprentices when they were young, have turned Forte Santo Antonio Além do Carmo fort into a capoeira center. João Pequeno’s Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola is on the ground floor and holds exhibitions on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm and on Sundays at 5pm.

Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) occupies the upper floor and gives exhibitions on Saturdays at 7pm (Forte da Capoeira, Largo de Santo Antonio Além do Carmo, Santo Antonio.

The birthplace of Capoeira Salvador Bahia – Travel Travel Guide

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