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Capoeira Basics

Welcome to VirtualCapoeira.com, your online Capoeira Community.

Because of its long standing history on the web and the value this movements page has provided for beginning Capoeiristas across the globe, we have asked the page's original author, Marc Heitler, to allow us to retain the content for our Capoeira resource pages at VirtualCapoeira.com. Our Virtual Capoeira Community is dedicated to providing valuable information, services, and resources for Capoeiristas worldwide. We hope this list of movements will continue to aid beginners looking to better understand the technique behind movements they are training and help introduce them to new movements they can add to their Capoeira vocabulary

Information courtesy of Marc Heitler

Ginga
Handstand
Queda de Rins
Au
Au Malandro
Cocorinha
Queda de Tres
Queda de Quatro
Negativa (Position)
RolÍ
Chapa de Costas
Negativa (Takedown)
Meia Lua de Frente
Macaco
S-Dobrado
BÍnção
Ponteira
Meia Lua de Compasso
Queixada
Armada
Martelo
Martelo Rotado
Martelo Rotado (jumping)
Escorão (Chapa)
Rasteira
Cabeçada
Escorpiao
Vingativa
Tesoura
Tesoura Angola
Cruz
Style moves
Backflip
Headspin
Au de Costa
Macaco-Queda de Rins
Handstand whirling
Relogio
Folha Seca
 


 

Ginga Animation Ginga: the most basic movement of Capoeira. Instead of taking a fixed stance, you have to keep moving all the time; all the other moves derrive from this dance-like pattern. Ginga becomes soon second nature and provides great potential for unpredictable 3D movement and fake attacks.

I have no idea how to explain the Ginga properly; probably I'll release a tiny QuickTime movie later on.


 



 

handstand: practice practice practice! It's very stylish and part of many defensive/offensive movements. If you never ever tried it, start with swinging up at a wall. Don't look at your hands, keep your eyes on the opposite wall instead. Once you get the feeling for it, try a handstand without support. If you are about to topple over, lift one hand and find your balance again. Occasionally that won't work; then try to roll over or -even better- lift one palm, use your other hand as a pivot and gently step down in the opposite direction.(example: lift your left hand, turn clockwise for 180 degrees, put it down again, lower one leg, touch the ground, lower the other leg, get up and always keep smiling:). No problem you say? Then try to...

  • get up into handstand from a squatting position.
  • get up into handstand from a cartwheel.
  • get up into handstand from a headstand.
  • get up into handstand from a macaco.
  • get up into handstand with a 180 deg turn.
  • combine the above.
  • walk on your hands. Forwards (where the heels are) is easier than backwards.
  • clap your feet to the rhythm of the Berimbau.
  • Straddle your legs both back and forth and left and right.
  • Straddle your legs and twist your hips for 90 degrees.
  • go into handstand and squat with your legs in the air.
  • stretch your legs into an angle with your body (big inverted "L").
  • stand on one hand.
  • spin on one hand (e.g. starting from a one-handed Compassa).
  • combine the above.
  • get down into a headstand.
  • get down into a Queda de Rins.
  • get down with a handspring.

 



 

Queda de Rins: "stand on the kidneys". Begin as if you wanted to go into a headstand; crouch. Turn both your knees that they face your right elbow. Shift your weight over your left hand, then lower your head. Place the area above your left hip on your left elbow and let the left side of your head touch the ground. Slowly raise your legs and put your right knee at your right elbow to a rest. Both legs are now drawn up.

shifting sideways into Queda de Rins and going down to the other side The picture on the right shows an example of how the Queda de Rins can be put to good use in Capoeira. In the image we start from a Queda de Tres but you can enter the QDR from Negativa, jumping in etc. as well. Drop down to one side but keep your body up by touching the ground with one hand and sticking the elbow into the flank of your body. Feels awkward at first because you have to twist your arm somewhat, better get used to that. Now lower your body further, stretch your free hand over your head and put it down as well. Then let your head touch the ground on its side; put it on the imaginary line between your two hands (Normally you need not put everything in a straight line but for this trick it makes getting up much easier). Your weight rests mainly over your support arm (the one that rams into your side) at this point. Time to get up again: Lift one leg (diagram: right leg) and move it in a straight arc over your torso. The other legs follows as well but concentrate on the first one for now. Get this first leg over your head and try to let its foot touch the ground on the extended line that goes through your hands. Stretch out your aching arm (image:left one) again, thus pushing yourself up (6th frame). This takes some muscular effort- later on when you get down the balance and perform the move with schwing it gets much easier. When your head's off the floor, push with both hands and get straight up.

 



 

Au; the cartwheel and some variations Au: the cartwheel. Immensely important in Capoeira. Use it for a quick retreat or lure your partner into a trap.

  • Common Au: I assume everyone knows how to do this. In Capoeira remember to keep eye contact with your partner; don't ever look at your hands. At first, don't stay too long on both of your hands; try to have only one hand at a time on the ground. Later on you can try to delay the movement or even to freeze in handstand position. Always be prepared to get knocked down by a Cabecada or BÍnção.
     
  • Small Au: Not so flashy but much more safe. Put your hands further apart, move your head closer to the ground, keep your knees bent and work strongly with your hips to shift your body's center of gravity over your head.
     
  • Au with spin: Start an Au to your left side until you reach handstand position. There take off your left hand and spin on your right hand in clockwise direction. After turning ~270 degrees, go down as shown in the diagramm. This is a cute style move that leaves you open for a brief moment, so try to do it quickly (It shouldn't take more time than an ordinary cartwheel).
  • Au into Queda de Rins roll: Do an Au. When you pass through the handstand position, drop down into a Queda de Rins and roll over. You will end up in negativa position. If you like to watch the difficult part of the exercise, take a look at my private homepage. In the upper right-hand corner you can see a 'Macaco into Queda de Rins roll' animation.

     



 

Au Malandro; sequence of movements Au Malandro: I really love this one. If you attempt a cartwheel and your roguish partner goes for the Cabecada (headbutt into your stomach), -BAFF- he'll get punished by your lightning-fast legs. To pull off, grab the ground with one hand and jump. Now you twist your chest slightly upwards and do the jacknife movement with the upper leg. At the begin it's easier to keep the other leg bent; later on, you can try to keep it stretched. Now simply go down forwards or sidewards. Experiment with hitting above your head and to your front, try out various angles between your legs (striking with two legs, doing the splits etc). If all that poses no problem to you, continue the movement to a handstand, do an Au Malandro in the opposite direction and go down there. Voila,a Capoeira cartwheel.

Au Malandro; trick for training This is a really tricky movement. For training purposes I suggest you get yourself a partner who can give you support. Face your friend ; both of you should grab each others arm (see pic: right arm to right arm). Now start as if you tried an Au (cartwheel). Once you are 'airborne', twist your body a little bit upwards.. fold your first leg towards your face and don't worry about the other one at first. If you keep a firm grip on your partner's forearm (and vice versa), you can train this move with great efficiency. I strongly recommend (as for all other movements too) practising the move in both directions.

 



 

Coco- rinha; crou- ching man Cocorinha: A way of avoiding circular kicks at a close distance. You duck below the kick and lift the arm on the side the kick comes from, thus protecting your head (Lift it higher than the man on the right!). The other hand touches the ground and gives you balance. Make sure your entire soles have contact with the floor; else you could easily be pushed over. And keep eye-contact.

 



 

crouching man, turned away a little Queda de Tres: While the Cocorinha is employed mainly in Regional, Angoleiros favor the Queda de Tres instead. You crouch on your toes and put one hand diagonally behind for better balance. Unlike the Cocorinha, the Queda de Tres requires you to turn your body away from the partner a little bit (the scribble on the right shows the move viewed from the front). The remaining hand protects the head from kicks that come from the side which are more likely to occur in Capoeira Angola than in Capoeira Regional. You can shift your weight over your supporting hand and lean away from the other Jogador if he comes too close; or you can go into Queda de Rins, Tesoura Angola, Negativa, RolÍ to to keep the game flow smooth.

 



 

Man with back to floor and feet and hands on the ground Queda de Quatro: The Queda de Quatro is a way of dodging kicks and typical for Capoeira Angola. Let's assume your partner launches a Rabo de Arraia at you and you decide to evade with a Queda de Tres (described above). You go along with the kick when your friend suddenly changes legs and performs the Rabo de Arraia in the opposite direction, aiming directly at your face. To perform the Qdea de Quatro you glide gracefully backwards onto your hands (coming from the Queda de Tres) and walk away on your hands until your legs are stretched. From there on you can do the RolÍ, cross your stretched legs and attack with a Rabo de Arraia, move forward again and carefully get up etc. Always remember that you may never touch the floor with your bottom.

 



 

Negativa Position; crouching, one leg stretched out Negativa (Stance): Very important because of the vast range of follow ups; you can rolÍ away, go into Au/Head/ Handstand, do a Macaco, attack with an S-Dobrado, Martelo or Meia Lua de Compasso, change orientation, retreat, close in,... Basically it's a way of avoiding kicks (see Cocorinha) but can be done for its own sake as well. You can drop into the Negativa from the Ginga, from an Au, a Queda de Rins, whatever, just keep it fluid. You have one leg bent and your weight should be balanced on its football. The other leg is stretched (or only little bent), with the toes pointing to the side. That's for reasons of safety, because if someone kicks at or falls onto your knee with your foot pointing upwards your leg could get broken in a very nasty way.. Gain better balance by touching the ground with the one hand on the side of your stretched leg. The other leg can protect the head if necessary.
 

This kind of the Negativa is fundamental to Capoeira play in general. However, there's a variant that is used exclusively in Capoeira Angola...

 

    Negativa Angola and some follow ups
  • The Negativa Angola shows all trademarks of a classic Angola: you are bent really deep down, both feet and both hands touch the ground but everything else floats closely above. Coming from the Ginga you step parallel and move down, similar to the Cocorinha (feet are a bit further apart). Now 'flow' to one side, in the direction the incoming kick goes. Shortly before your head touches the floor you have stop the movement and remain in this position. Your one hand gives support in front of your chest, the other hand behind your back. Looks like a pushup where you have your body twisted to one side. The leg on the upper side is stretched, the other leg is bent. Try to touch the floor only with both of your hands and your feet, but do it as deep as possible. To come back into Ginga, do everthing in the opposite direction.
  • When you're down in the Negativa Angola and your partner is standing rather close to you, exchange the position of your feet. This is a great setup for a Rabo de Arraia (Meia Lua de Compasso with both hands on the ground). Scroll down to the rolÍ or the Meia Lua de Compasso to see how the movement continues after the the third image.
  • The lower leg of your bent leg travels forward so your leg gets stretched. From here on you have all the rolÍ move variations at your disposal, look up the item below for reference.
  • Negativa Angola into Headstand-Au. If you are down in the Negativa, pull yourself a little forward with your hands. Put your head in upright position down on the floor (-strain on neck). Now try to push/pull yourself over into headstand and get down on the other side; it should resemble a very deep Au with the head on the ground. Try to do it very slowly in training so you learn to control it better.

     



 

Rolling from Negativa into Ginga pos. RolÍ: This 'rolling' motion is -together with the Ginga and the Au- the basic method of moving around in the Roda. The diagramm to the right shows the RolÍ from the Negativa into the Ginga. Start from the Negativa. Lean to the side you're going to rolÍ to (image: left, always the side with the stretched leg) and shift your weight a little forwards. Push yourself up by stretching your bent leg while rotating along the axis of your left leg until your chest faces the ground. Left hand gives support. Now put your other hand on the floor and swing your right leg around; look through between your legs to keep your partner within your field of vision. Finally take off your left leg and swing it around as well; rotate for 180 degrees and put it down behind. Better keep your upper body low until you finished the rolÍ, else you could eat an Armada. Keep your eyes fixed at your partner for the entire movement; when your body is facing away, let your head hang down.
P.S. You need not rolÍ into the Ginga stance. It's perfectly right to rolÍ closer to the ground into Negativa position again.

Role combined with Martelo kick Here we have the RolÍ combined with the Martelo. Easy and useful. Just stand up from the Negativa but keep your hand on the ground. This creates tension around the hips on the side of your rear leg. If you now take off your rear leg, it should soar through the air; hit with the instep and put it down after rotating 180 degrees. Continue the RolÍ movement as described above.
To put it in other words: do the RolÍ but lift your rear leg a little higher and keep it stretched when turning.
If you do the same movement with jumping off, it's called S-Dobrado.

Role combined with Meia Lua de Compasso This is basically an ordinary RolÍ but with a Meia Lua de Compasso tossed in. Easier to do if you are further away, so you can role towards your partner instead of escaping him. Just think of a RolÍ where you strike with the heel of the leg that was stretched in the Negativa. Here's the description for the proper execution of a Meia Lua de Compasso.

 



 

mule kick to the back, two hands and one foot on the ground Chapa de Costas: Move of Capoeira Angola. Do it of the Role, Queda de Rins, from the Rabo de Arraia etc. Aim for the groin or head. If the other one is far off, don't simply strech your leg but work with your arms and standing leg as well to achieve a long range.

 

 

 

 

 







 

Negativa; 
Man pulling one's leg away Negativa (Takedown): By employing the Negativa you can elude your partner's kick as well as let him kiss the ground. Simply bend one knee and dive away in the direction the kick goes. Make sure you upper body half is really deep down; your bent knee should be the highest part of your body. Slide with your other leg behind your opponent's pivot leg and hook in there. When the kick has passed by, shift your weight over your hands and jump into straddle position; the hands remain on the floor. If you did it right, you pulled away your partner's foot and sent him down.

 



 

Man performing a half-circle with his leg Meia Lua de Frente: Coming from the Ginga you lift your rear/relieved leg and move it in a half circle motion. To maintain balance move your arms in the opposite direction, so you don't lose your orientation. Stretch out your pelvis to achieve a better kicking height. Once you can't move your leg any further without turning away from your partner, bend the kicking leg and pull it back into the position of the Ginga (parallel or step position). During the Meia Lua de Frente, your arms should always counteract (to) your leg movement.

 



 

Man doing a one-handed backflip Macaco: Sit down with your entire soles touching the ground. Put your right hand on the ground behind you. Now stretch out your left hand in front of you; focus it throughout the whole sequence. Say "one!" - wave your left hand over your head, follow it with your eyes, stretch out your knees, then go back into inital position. Say "two!" - repeat step one but do it with more power; stretch into bridge position as in scribble no.2; don't jump off yet. When you say "three!" you have to explode: pull your left hand fiercly over your head, throw you head back and jump off with both legs. If everything goes straight you will land in a handstand, which leaves you open to 1000 possible movements described above; but at first you should simply step down. For this exercise you need the stretching of your shoulders and your spine. In practice you can be supported by two people who grab you under your thighs and at your back; they should be able to lift you gently over without any danger to your body.

 



 

Man doing a weird whirling kick S-Dobrado: S-Dobrado is a generic term; this technique allows dozens of variations. To perform this kick from the Ginga simply grab the ground with your left hand; dive down on your left leg and pull the other one in a circular motion around in front of you (Alternatively to the Escopado you can also opt for a Rasteira now). Then shift your weight over your right hand and drag up your right hip in one continuous, fluid motion (scribble no.3). At this point you may decide either to continue the Escopado or to jump a Macaco (Be creative: I like doing an Escopado-into-Macaco-into-headstand). For the Escopado keep your hips wide open, don't ever bend your hips! Pull your right hip up, then let it gently float to the right and put your right foot finally down in front of you. The kick itself is executed with the left leg which is dragged behind the rest rest of your body. Remember to hit with the instep. If done right, the striking leg will fly by and you can turn further to face your partner again. The whole sequence consists of one single fluid motion; until the very end, your right leg never touches the ground. Keep the movement round, avoid any edges.

 



 

Man doing a thrust kick BÍnção: A straight kick that still requires some skill. Pull up one knee and hunch your torso as if you tried to grab your partner. Then slowly stretch your lifted knee and drag your virtual opponent behind. Again, you have to work very heavy with your hips. Hit with the sole. Don't try to snap; don't kick soccer-like. The leg does not come directly from the ground, that would make your intention visible and leaves you prone to counter attacks. When you lift it first, your partner doesn't know whether a BÍnção, a Martelo or some other mean kick will follow. And once again: You should be able to push your partner away not get him bruised; kick him rather slowly but firmly.

 



 

Man throwing his leg forward, striking with the foot ball Ponteira: Looks similar to the BÍnção but it's quite a different move. Whereas the Bencao is very common in both Regional and Angola, the Ponteira rather suits to Regional style because it's a lot faster and more unpredictable. Imagine you are wearing sandals and want to get rid of them; you then throw your foot fiercly forwards in a snapping motion to shoot them away as far as possible (pic 3). With the Bencao, you first lift your knee very high then push your leg towards the opponent (foot trajectory is parallel to the ground). The Ponteira flies in a round arc from the floor to your partner's stomach/chest, however you do not keep your leg stretched throughout the entire kicking motion. Lift your knee while stretching out the kicking leg so it gets extended to the maximum at the point of impact. Hit with the foot ball, don't break your toes with it. The Ponteira doesn't require muscular effort, it is easiest to execute with much swing and it hits in an instant. Don't overuse it unless you want to make the Jogo more competitive and aggressive. Try to follow up the Ponteira with a Martelo or a spinned Chapa without putting your kicking leg down; works very well if you want to surprise your opponent and catch him off-guard.

 



 

Man performing a crescent kick Meia Lua de Compasso (Rabo de Arraia): Staple move. When you step behind during the Ginga, keep your feet where they are and shift your weight over your front leg (by stretching your rear leg). Bend your upper body inwards and down. Reach down with your hands until your hips can't get twisted any further; drop your head so you can keep constant eye-contact with your partner. By now great energy should be created by the tension you built up. Unleash this power by taking off your rear leg; it should fly around in a quick half-circle without any muscular effort. Always hit with the heel! Once your kicking leg is aligned parallel with your upper body, finish the motion by rotating your entire torso until you face your partner again. Watch out that you don't get hit because of raising your head too early - Meia Lua de Compassos are often answered with further Meia Luas.
This is one of the most common yet difficult moves, but with constant training you will be able to deliver fierce single-handed Meia Lua de Compassos within fractions of a second.


 



 

one more kick Queixada: This kick (pronounced "kishada") is a great setup for kick combinations; common follow-ups are Queixada, Armada or jumped Martelos. The movement can be slightly awkward when you do it only with force, so try to relax and get in the flow..
Proceed as shown in the diagramm on the right. Coming from the Ginga, you turn your body slightly inwards to prepare some centrifugal force for the kick. Don't let your arms hang down; keep them ready for loose protection of your head and use them to enhance the swing. Now throw your upper body around in the opposite direction while crossing with your rear leg behind your front leg. Take off your (old) front leg; It should fly in an arc without any muscular effort if you produced enough rotational power with your upper body. Your final position now mirrors the stance you started with, so you can easily do another Queixada in the other direction.

 



 

roundhouse kick Armada: The standard standing spin kick in Capoeira. It is a crossing between the Mei Lua de Compasso (rotation) and the Queixada (hitting area, posture). As usual, start from the Ginga. Turn inwards on your heels (or foot balls); rotate for 270 degrees on your rear leg and for 180 degrees on your front leg. Now quickly throw your upper body around until you see your partner again. You will lose eye contact with him for this moment, so get this part over quickly. Once you can't twist your torso any further, release the tension by linting your rear leg; it should get dragged along very fast as your body is untwisting. This kick is performed with the hitting leg's foot pointing straight up (The same applies to the Meia Lua de Frente and the Queixada). Put your foot at rest in the same position you started with. You can now follow up with further Armadas, Queixadas in the opposite direction, Meia Lua de Compassos etc.

 



 

side kick Martelo: Common kick in Capoeira Regional. It requires good stretching of the legs and a fair sense of balance. Looks very simple yet it needs constant training.
Lift your knee as it is seen in the BÍnção movement. Turn for about 90-180 degrees on your foot ball; keep your kicking leg's knee at roughly the same position. Remember to turn your hips as well. Do you feel now why you need stretching of the legs? Lean back a little to keep balance. If done right, your hips should be aligned parallel with your kicking leg. Your thigh should point straightly at your target (shoulder/head area). Contrary to the other kicks mentioned above, you now have to snap quickly with your lower leg. Hit with the instep. To prevent spinning away from your opponent move your arms in the opposite direction - just compare diagramm 2 to 3 (this protects head area as well). Finished? Put your leg down again.
The Martelo is very Regional, very competitive, quick, brute and unaesthetic. However it's a good way of interrupting an opponent who is stuck in endless spinning kicks, just wait for a kick to pass by and quickly jump in with a Martelo. Or do it from the side your partner is going to step with the Ginga to. He'd better rolÍ away...

 


 

Spinning side kick Martelo Rotado: Compare it to the RolÍ+Martelo move described somewhere above. Basically you do the Martelo but pull your leg violently through and slam it into the ground right behind you. This kick has to be done fast and with force; it's not very good to start with when both you and your partner just ginga but if you want to have the last word in a frenzy exchange of kicks throw the move as fast as you can. Still don't overuse it, stick rather to Armadas and Meia Luas for setting up a game of call and response.
First, lift up your knee. Then turn on your foot ball while stretching out your kicking leg, gain momentum by pulling with your hips. Wave your arms around the other way (compare pic 3 to pic 4). Study the Martelo explanation above. Instead of putting the leg down you pull it powerfully down to the ground behind you, accelarating all the way. Keep your head at facing your partner until the kicking leg rests on the floor. Now throw your upper body around (untwisting your torso, pic 7) and go back into the Ginga. Although this expanation makes the move sound rather stiff it's a very smooth and fluid motion with no stop in between. Try to get it technically right, then work on speed.



 


 

Spinning side kick while jumping Martelo Rotado (jumping):Now the common jump kick of Capoeira, the Martelo Rotado. Not too difficult if you practiced the other kicks before. Stick to the first line of pictures first. You start as if you did an Armada- do everything as described there; twist your upper body so that you get your partner back into view and to generate lots of tension. Unleash the tension by taking off your first leg (the kicking one if you did an Armada). However, keep it bent now. Lean back a little with your torso and jump off with your support leg. Open your hips on the side of your second leg, don't bend them there. As you spin around, the second leg gets dragged behind. Since it is the kicking leg, try to execute the strike in the same way as with the standing Martelo Rotado. Keep it bent at first, then pull it powerfully around (where it gets stretched and hits like a whip). Hit with the instep- watch the descriptions of the normal Martelo. Don't kick with your foot pointing up (like Armada, Meia Lua de Frente etc.). Now while the second leg flies around you gently land on your first leg. Pull down your second leg and put it to rest behind. Rotate (both feet now grounded) till you face your partner again.
Note: 1. In the picture the kick is executed in the opposite direction compared to the scribble of the standing Martelo Rotado. Don't let that confuse you. 2. Because of the arrangement of frames one could believe that you have to jump far to the front.. Don't travel too far, it's better to stay stationary (still depends on situation).
The second line shows a one-legged MR. This one is quite hard: You have to jump really high and delay the rotation as long as possible. You lean back even a little more. Then when you reach the apex/peak, you have to pull off the kick so violently that you complete the rotation still in the air. Now you land on your kicking leg first which by now has overtaken your first one.

 



 

sideway thrust kick Escorão/Chapa: The Escorão is a kick that is somehow similar to the BÍnção and the Martelo; you have to hit with the sole but your body takes a sideways/lateral(?lack of vocabulary!) stance. At the Escorão (from the front), you put for instance your right foot from behind into parallel stance. Then you turn your body a little bit to the right, drag your left leg along, lift it up a little bit and push it in the direction of your partner's chest (watch picture). You can do it from behind as well, crossing your legs as with the Queixada and then throw the kick. Or do a Esporão, aka spinned Chapa, where you have to spin -similar to the armada- and then deliver the blow out of the rotation in a straight line. However I'm not sure what the arms do during the motion; if someone knows exact details, feel free to email me (or perhaps I'll ask my teacher tomorrow).

 



 

Capoeira foot sweep Rasteira: Pronounce Hashtera, 'a' like in 'car'. The most common way of taking someone down. It's applied against all kinds of incoming kicks, it's simple to execute but hard to time. Note: don't sweep your partner's feet away in an arc-like movement, that would only hurt both of you. The move is strictly a 'go in-pull out' kind of motion.
Do it as followed: If there's, for example, a circular kick coming your way from the left, bend down to the right. Always move in the same direction as the kick goes. Keep your weight over your right foot while trying to get your left foot behind the attacker's supporting leg. Your right knee should point straightly away from your target (requires good stretching). Gain balance by putting down your right hand somewhere on the imaginary line you're going to pull along. Keep your left leg stretched and hook in behind your partner's supporting leg (the lower you hook in the better the leverage). Keep your left arm above your head. If you can feel your opponent's heel on your left foot, it's time for the pull. The power doesn't come mainly from your leg; except for the hooked foot your leg should be totally relaxed. Stretch your left arm as far as possible and move it over your head until your hand touches the ground. Since you are stretched from your left hand down to your left foot, your left leg is automatically dragged along. Your partner should start to fall right now, and we complete the movement by swinging our left foot around and stepping back with the right leg.
The Rasteira is very timing-dependent. Do the pull when your partner is throwing his leg up in the air, that's when there's little weight over his supporting leg. When his kick has already passed the vertex (?), you have to pull far more harder.

 



 

head butt; Regional and Angola style Cabeçada: The Capoeira Headbutt. Regional variant: Keep your back straight. Aim at the solarplexus region of your partner, bend your knees and lean over. Gain momentum by stretching your rear leg and strike in a straight line. Keep your hands crossed loosely in front of your face; They should provide protection from surprising knee-strikes or accidental spastic movements of your partner.
Angola variant: Keep everything low. Get close to the ground, take aim and thrust yourself at your partner's stomach. You end up with only your hands and feet touching the ground but everything else hanging down. Arms remain stretched, legs spread a little bit.
The Cabeçada is applied mainly against Aus, handstands and headstands but also against some kicks (Meia Lua de Compasso, Rabo de Arraia). Advanced players also aim at the opponent's head (chin and nose). Of course it's perfectly feasible to knock someone out of a handstand with a Bencao; but since a handstand is thought as a provocation, kicking means to deny the challenge and take the safe/cheap route.

 



 

Mule overhead kick Escorpiao: Mind you this is not a very common attack and it should only be used if you are very certain that it will surprise/ hit/leave you unharmed. Do an Entrada, step slightly forward. Duck as if you simply want to evade a move, then put both your hands in front of you. Now jump up into handstand but but keep your legs drawn up, ready to explode. Twist your hips towards the other player. Extend your legs suddenly into his direction. Now don't try this step by step but instead in a continuous motion without a break, like a spring you drop down, get small and then shoot out with force -doiiing! The problem with the move is that you break the basic handstand rule of Capoeira of never showing your back to your opponent, but if it is done in the proper situation everything's fine. Again, you should keep eye-contact with your partner throughout the movement. This is much easier if you start with your partner not directly to your front but more to the left or right, therefore the Entrada in the beginning (Does this make sense to you?). At the end you should get down as fast as possible because you are in a very vulnerable position; don't simply drop down but draw you legs up again actively and with force while going down (see 5th picture).

 



 

Man throwing Vingativa: Fancy movement; If you get it through, it will provides you with great satisfaction. However, you must be really quick to get the timing right. Once the other one moves in and attempts to land a, say Armada, you have to place your right foot right beside your friend's right one. Stand firmly on your right leg, get behind your opponent (see scribble No.1) with the other one. Meanwhile use your elbow to prevent him from escaping to the front. Now shift your body weight from your right leg to your left one and watch your partner slowly falling backwards. The throw itself works very well when applied at the proper moment.

 



 

Man performing scissor legs throw Tesoura: translates as 'Scissors'. The idea is to trap the other player between your legs and lever him over. Step with your left foot beside your partner's right foot and cross your other leg behind; this resembles the inital Vingativa position except that your legs get crossed and you plant your feet just the other way round. Your upper body is facing rather downwards, but your head keeps looking at the opponent. The right hand stays firmly on the ground, the left hand can be also put down if you like to. Get your crotch(?) really close to your partner's leg, because the throw works better when performed with the thighs rather than with the lower legs. Once you are properly aligned, throw your left arm fiercely around. This should make your upper body and finally your hips and legs rotate to your left (counter-clockwise). Now your partner should start to fall over behind. Rotate further on until your left hand touches the ground; lift off your right hand and do the rolÍ over your partner's stomach. If he struggling to get free you may nail him with your left knee in his belly and fake a knee strike (right leg) at his face (last picture). The player who gets thrown with a Tesoura is advised to make the fall as soft as possible and to cross his arms in some distance in front of his face because of a possible incoming Joelhada (knee blow).

Tesoura standing, Tesoura jumped in Once you master this move and your partner got accustomed to the many hard falls, you should try to jump in with a Tesoura. This is much more safe to you because if you do it the other way your victim could hurt your tripping leg during the fall, crushing on the knee from above at a bad angle etc.
The move stays basically the same, although your right leg doesn't touch the ground at all. In this case the right leg flies straight at the back of the knees while your left leg is aiming at the stomach area. Mind you this is elegant yet very rough if not applied properly, so do it with caution and only if your partner can deal with such a situation.
(A) Tesoura from standing (B) Tesoura jumped in (recommended)

 



 

Man approaching opponent with spread legs first, his frontside to the floor Tesoura Angola: Better don't do this move in a Roda of Capoeira Regional unless you like getting jumped in the back from above.. This version of the Tesoura is a good example for the playfulness of Capoeira Angola. Although you might use it for quickly approaching your partner and throwing him with the scissors move described above, it's rather a challenge you propose to your partner. You may start the motion from wherever you like, but Queda de Rins, de Tres or de Quatro are all good occasions. Spread you legs a little and face the floor with your front. The only body parts that make contact with the ground are your feet and your hands. Let your body hang through but nevertheless keep up some tension. Now turn your chest to one side so that your body gets twisted down to your hips. Watch your fellow Capoeirista over your shoulder and push yourself in his direction with the help of your hands. Your feet slide across the floor in an attempt of trapping your partner between them. Your further actions depend on your opponent's reaction:
To him the most obvious way of escaping is making an Au to your backside; cause that's where your eyes can't follow him easily. If he does the Au to your front side, kick him BÍnção-like with your lower lying leg. Or try to catch him with with a Cabecada, either way. If he tries to flee through the backdoor (watch diagramm) you can get on him by rotating your body on one hand and the lower lying leg; pull your higher leg through underneath and aim your kick him at the stomach/chest area (3rd picture). Alternatively try a Cabecada, but then timing may be critical.
Another nice method of countering the Tesoura Angola is sliding through between the attacker's legs with legs first (I forgot drawing a picture, perhaps next time). It's executed in a similar fashion to the TA, yet legs are closed so you fit through. Mean people lift their heels when their feet pass by underneath the attacker's face, others like to get up violently. I have even seen an advanced player rolling over the attacker's back when he got approached by a Tesoura Angola, but that had been a joking Roda anyway:)

 



 

Man slipping under the opponent's kick and throwing him over Cruz: The Cruz (cross) is an elegant way to evade an incoming BÍnção or Ponteira and throw the partner at the same time. Instead of pushing the kicking leg away you bend down and slide under it. Spread your arms so his leg cannot escape to the side, trap it on your back. Now simply get up again and watch your opponent fall. If you get trapped with a Cruz by someone else, don't fall on the back of your head as the Capoeirista on the right does. Try to fall to the side and dampen the fall with your hands, doing a Au-like motion.

Cruz shown from above This is Cruz viewed from above. The diagramm shows the move the way I was told, and I found it very practical and useful since then. If there are any other variations I'd be glad to get emails from you. To avoid getting accidentally hit by the supporting leg during the throw you have to shift your head to the right side. If you perform the Cruz and and your position is that of the first picture, you have to roll your head to the other side so that you end up as in the second picture. If you're already there, don't do anything except standing up. I do so since the girl I intented to throw over with a Cruz did a Macaco backwards and kicked me with her support leg right into my jaw (Hi there Julia!).

 



 

Style Moves

free-handed backflip Backflip: I didn't learn this move at Capoeira, I adapted it from the lessons I had in gymnastics. Still it's a nice way to enter a Roda, following an Au or Macaco or doing it on its own. Mind you this transcends Capoeira Basics, there's a high risk of injury if you don't take proper precautions. Ask two friends for help and try this out on a soft mat in a gym hall.
Stand straight, keep your arms stretched in front of you. Now sit down as if there were a chair behind you. Very important: don't move your knees forward, keep your lower legs at exactly the same position, just move your thighs. Your upper body shifts back- and downwards but remains perpendicular to the ground. At the same time, swing your stretched arms down and behind (see diagramm). Once your posture consists of two 90 deg. angles (hips, knees), do the following actions at the same time:
1. reverse the swing of your arms, throw them from behind in a wide circle far over your head. Do it really fiercly, because it's the only way to gain the necessary rotation. Throw your arms back as far as possible, keep them stretched at all costs, and throw your head back as well (you should see where you land after all).
2. Stretch out your legs as quickly as possible. The main power for jumping off doesn't come from your feet but from your thighs, the sudden burst should travel straight through your legs into your heels.
If you did right the above, everything left is pretty obvious: you land on your hands but the rotational power pulls your legs down (either one after the other or both at the same time). Common follow ups are further backflips or backwards somersaults.
For training purposes get yourself a soft and a hard gym mat. Place them in such a way that you jump off from the hard one but land with your hands on the soft one. Have a friend at each side of yours who grabs you at your back (>support) and under your thighs (>rotation). At your first try let your friends do all the work; fall backwards and let them carry your whole weight. They should put you gently down in handstand position. With every further try jump off a little more until you need no active support from your friends anymore. It's hard work but can be mastered; Today I do it on concrete one after the other, yet I don't dare to finish with a somerault yet:]
Please do this really carefully, I don't want to feel guilty for any accidents of yours. Thanx.

 



 

headspin Headspin animation: Like the Backflip this was destined to go to the style section. Throw one leg back and the other one in an arc around, it's not BBoy style but a 'rough and ready' method that works well for me.



 



 

infinite Macaco-Au Au de Costa: You walk along, bend back, touch the ground with one hand, do an Au to the back, step down, take a further step, and start over. Your second hand travels rather behind your head than in front of your face. What makes this fun to watch is the fact that you don't change your position with this move. Doing the backwards Au from standing/walking is rather difficult; learn the plain Macaco first.



 



 

Macaco- Queda de Rins Macaco into Queda de Rins: Ok this isn't really new; I simply took the Capoeira symbol from my Homepage. It's just a random combination of two typical Capoeira moves and not a special motion per se. Try all kinds of variations: Do the Queda de Rins part to the other side (better way of getting away), jump the Macaco into headstand, do a headspin, jump into handstand, move down but do a kip(?) to get up again etc... endless possibilities open up...

 




 

Handstand spin Handstand whirling: This animation took me quite some effort; I did not use any reference material (video etc.) but drew it completely out of my memory and imagination. Also I improvised throughout the entire drawing process; although I initially wanted to make a simple handstand spin, I soon thought "wouldn't it be cool if..?" and so I added the second S-Dobrado-Macaco-spin. When the Capoeirista went through his second handstand I noticed that the image has travelled too far to the left, so I let him spin around and do an Au back to where he started. Still the Au didn't cover enough ground so I needed some frames to close the gap between animation start and end, that's why the boy shakes around. There are some glitches I am not all too happy with: speed-wise I did't optimize the animation too well; the Meia Lua should be faster and everything could be a bit more accentuated and dynamic, but after drawing frame no.140 I only wanted to finish the damn thing. The spinning power of the second handstand comes through the S-Dobrado when your second leg (outer) leg overtakes your first one, causing your body to rotate. Sadly this isn't evident at all in my animation, the spin starts only when the figure is already standing upside down..
Recently I came across some pages which use some of my animations. Often people act politely and ask before they copy the cartoons, and I'm perfectly happy with them putting my pics on their site. Yet I would like to have this particluar animation as an exclusive on my page. Don't get me wrong, I am not jealous or anything but I spent the last two weeks at the computer creating this GIF-file and I don't want to see them on every Tekken 3 page on the web without credits or anything. Thanks.

So what is the guy on the right doing anyway? Let's start right after his leg swing (left hand down to right leg). The Capoeirista steps forward with his left leg, crosses with his left hand to his rear leg and starts a Meia Lua de Compasso. Instead of finishing the kick he takes the kicking leg upwards and jumps off with his supporting leg and starts spinning. Before his left arm gets too twisted he switches to his right arm and steps down with his right leg (the kicking leg). Now he could deliver a Bencao if his opponent closed in, but our friend decides to take the second leg down as well and pulls it to his front side into a Negativa. Down there he shifts his weight to the other side and changes the orientation of his legs (stretched-bent) and pulls the now stretched one in a powerful arc to his side and up into an S-Dobrado/Macaco/Au. His front leg flies upwards while his rear leg is delayed; however the second leg soon catches up and overtakes the first one from behind (starting a handstand spin). This rotation is roughly the same as the one shown at the top of the Basics section under the 'Au' item (third example). Look there for details. The Capoeirista has now finished the spin and gets down again, twisting his body a bit so he can face his partner again. Just for style he rotates on his right leg and connects into an Au to get back into starting position. After taking a cute posture he steps forwards again to start all over, a modern Sisyphos who performs eternally to the amusement of us all.

 



 

push the elbow into the ribs and rotate on your hand alone, body horizontally Relogio: translates as clock, look at it from above. The first line shows the move from above, the second from the side. You push your elbow into your ribs as you did with the Queda de Rins and rest your body's weight there, the other hand provides only support. Your head doesn't touch the ground, instead you try to keep your upper body a little stiff. The leg closer to the ground is stretched out and its foot touches the floor; everything looks a little similar to the Negativa Angola (biggest difference is the hard elbow). Now take your leg on the upper side to your front. Ready? Push the same leg in a circle parallel to the ground to the back. Take of your upper hand. The leg throw should generate an impulse that sends you spinning around, with your hand as the pivot. Keep your body stiff and try to keep equilibrium- at first you will always fall off your elbow, but after practice you will get it down. In order to rotate more than a quarter-circle because your hand seems glued to the ground, stretch the fingers of your floor hand and pull them up. Contact should only be made with a small part of the palm; if you keep body tension, have enough spin and the floor is slippy enough you need not twist your arm because your palm will rotate as well. Keep you entire body parallel to the ground. If you want to leave in a graceful way, bend the leg closer to the ground and put the foot down. At the same time you stretch out your pivot arm and get your upper body back upright. Look at the last pic, it's the Negativa position (hum hum). From there on you may continue seamlessly into a RolÍ or Ginga or any other movement. Try to enter into the Relogio out of a Meia Lua de Compasso or drop down in the middle of a RolÍ and do it. An even bigger challenge is the Relogio to the front (spinning in the direction the toes point), where you generate the rotation with your downside leg first.

 



 

stretched backsault from running forward Folha Seca: The Folha Seca is a backsault that is done while moving forward. It looks like an overhead kick in soccer, except that you land on your feet again. Keep this in mind when trying the move; take a small runup(?) and kick an imaginary football lying on the ground. Kick it fiercely with all the swing you can get, and don't let your leg stop. It should travel upwards and drag your other leg behind. Once you passed the peak of your jump you should be able to look down again; now simply land on your leading leg. I recommend that you learn the ordinary backsault first before trying this out, this move is a lot more extreme but looks simply breathtaking when done right. Train it on the beach or with heavy mats in a gym hall and get some friends who can give you support. If you ever master the Folha Seca with ease you can combine it with a screw spin, which is one one of the most radical moves I've ever seen.

Folha Seca done in a flat arc Our teacher Will showed us the flat Folha Seca as a training method for the exercise above. It's essentially the same movement but the rotation plane is much more flat. I haven't tried it out yet but it seems to be much more comfortable than the upright backsault, because you won't break your neck at the first wrong attempt.

variations on the Folha Seca Try out some of these figures to spice up your repertoire: Take a step forward from the Ginga and somersault so that you land some distance behind. Or do it in a flat arc as shown above. Or do it in such a way that you come down some metres ahead.

Learn More

- History of Capoeira
- Mestre Bimba
- Mestre Pastinha
- Capoeira Music
- The Berimbau
- Berimbau Rhythms
- FAQs
 
 
 
 
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