Obsessed with Brazil? Me? Perish the thought. I just think martial arts are cool. I'm shallow like that.
From Capoeira Arts' History of Capoeira:
Capoeira is an art form that involves movement, music, and elements of practical philosophy. One experiences the essence of capoeira by "playing" a physical game called jogo de capoeira (game of capoeira) or simply jogo. During this ritualized combat, two capoeiristas (players of capoeira) exchange movements of attack and defense in a constant flow while observing rituals and proper manners of the art. Both players attempt to control the space by confusing the opponent with feints and deceptive moves. During the jogo, the capoeiristas explore their strengths and weaknesses, fears and fatigue in a sometimes frustrating, but nevertheless enjoyable, challenging and constant process of personal expression, self-reflection and growth.
Ok, that's more vague description than history. Unfortunately, the history is vague as well.
Most of the questions related to the formative period of the art still remain unanswered. When, how, and why did capoeira emerge in Brazil? From what specific cultural groups did it come, and from which original art forms did it derive? The difficulty in answering these questions resides in the lack of written registers of capoeira and in the absence of an oral tradition that reaches as far back as the pre-dawn of the art. Also, the unclear Europeans' notion of cultural and geographic boundaries of the African territories at the beginning of Portugal's colonial enterprises, as well as the mixing of Africans from different tribes in the same work areas in Brazil, increase our uncertainties.
Supposedly, I can take classes here in Minnesota, but have long since learned not to rely too heavily on info found on the web. And emailing someone or picking up the phone are obviously out of the question. This would require some measure of social skills, after all.
First heard about the art on a PBS documentary, which suggested that the slaves made it look like dancing to keep their masters from getting suspicious. Initially, they showed slow, graceful movements of several people practicing, then cut to an actual fight. Graceful? Yes. Slow? I wish I'd taped it so I could go through frame-by-frame, and I'd probably still miss things.
And the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. have never even heard of it, and snicker gently when you describe it as Afro-Brazilian martial arts. Because, y'know, niggers ain't have stuff like that.
Good reason to learn it. To demonstrate on those sorts of people.
Want to know more? CAPOEIRA.COM "is a portal-type site with resources covering a wide variety of Capoeira-oriented topics." There's also a Google Directory category, although I've not tried all the links. However, one of them, iCapoeira.net, features
photos from [Nokia Mobile Phones'] Capoeira ad campaign featuring iCapoeira.net editor, Scott Miller and Swimsuit Model, Shakara Ledard.
I mentioned the shallow thing, right?