A Breakdancing Fight?

There are rumors that breakdancing either comes from an ancient martial art called Capoeira, is influenced by it, or is in some mutated way a direct reflection of it. The roots of Capoeira’s ancestry are as unclear as the present rumors of breaking’s affiliation to it. Still, there are some remarkable reflections between the two amazing arts.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that was disguised as a dance, created by slaves that were brought from Africa to Brazil hundreds of years ago. Contrary to slave masters in the United States, the slave masters in Brazil figured happy slaves were better slaves; so they allowed their slaves to dance and throw fiestas together. The slaves, relative to their native land, reenacted dances they used to depict the hunt of different animals. These animal dances were vivid and wild expressions that soon evolved into the dance disguising a plot to overthrow the Brazilians who unrightfully owned the slaves. Originally, Capoeira was practiced very low to the ground utilizing slow precise movements that would then methodically and quickly attack, with the fierceness of a snake. This older version is called Angola Capoeira, rightfully from the region of Africa in which many of these slaves were stolen from. After a revolution and the gain of their freedom (a very interesting story) Capoeira was banned by exile or death for many years. During this time, Capoeira began to incorporate more acrobatics and other martial arts movements such as Tae Kwon Do or Karate. This infused style was much faster paced, with high energy and full of flips and tricks and called Capoeira Regional (pronounced with a Portuguese accent: hey-jho-nal). Even Angola Capoeira entailed many amazing aesthetic movements, often upside down, spinning on the head or hand, and twisting about in a very impressive way. Considering their hands were more often in shackles, Capoeiristas utilized their most powerful tools: their legs, while upside down in an attack mode.

Because of the similarities between the amazing freezes that breaking uses and the exotic tactics that also use controlled body movements in Capoeira, a rumor has arisen that breaking (being the younger art) is a direct result of this martial art form from Brazil. While there weren’t very many Brazilians practicing Capoeira in the Bronx, NY in the late 1970s; traces of televised documentaries may be the only plausible connection. There are other similarities as well that are equally notable between Capoeira and breaking: acrobatic twists and flips, often the exact same ones; the infiltrated foundation of rhythm-the Ginga (foundation of Capoeira, like the bouncy footwork to a boxer) is nearly the literal opposite of toprock (foundation of breaking); the battle dancing vs. the fight; and each art is performed in the middle of a circle (a Roda for Capoeira and a Cipher for breaking).

When considering the lineage of either art, it is important to remember that many things influenced their ultimate style. Breaking has incorporated gymnastics, wushu, dances from previous decades such as the lindy hop, tap, jazz, and funk, to simply name a few. Capoeira as well utilized other martial arts movements and evolved its acrobatics through time also. There is absolutely no argument that breaking most definitely displays similar amazing aesthetics and dynamic forms to that of Capoeira. So then, is breaking a direct replica with just a few simple genetic modifications over time? Or is Capoeira just another inspiration to add to the conglomeration of simulative physical wonders that breaking has claimed for its own? The answer is the latter. While present day influence can stretch across the world, the original foundation of breaking was born from original minds, formulating a rudimentary image of expression unlike any other form. As breaking has evolved and b-boys have strived to expand the style in any way shape or form, it is fair to say that present day breaking has utilized the influence of Capoeira. More universally, breaking definitely has shared some of the same inspirations that Capoeira initially evolved from, stretching all the way back to the historical heart of dance: Africa. Still in its present forms, Capoeira and breaking can absolutely be cherished as completely separate forms of art, each holding different aspects that the other does not possess. As a Capoeirista and b-girl, myself, I wholeheartedly recommend practicing both; for on opposite ends of the physical spectrum, these two arts can compliment one another immensely.

Other Pages of Interest

Step by step breakdancing
Breakdancing moves
Free breakdancing videos
How to break dance

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