Capoeira Terms

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Also, check out the Basic Capoeira Vocabulary page for a wider selection of capoeira related words.


amazonas (au batido): one hand cartwheel kick; trademark capoeira move

armada: basic upright spin kick

arrastao – capoeira takedown, pulling both legs from under an opponent

aú: capoeira style cartwheel

bananeira: handstand or headstand

banda: movement to trip or flank an opponent

bencao: “blessing”; a front kick

cabeçada: headbutt

chamada: literally to call; ritualized movement across roda (mainly used in Angola)

chapa/pisao: flat footed kick to the side

comprar de jogo – to buy a game, entering the circle by cutting in on another player

entrar: to enter

esquiva: escape movement

floreios – acrobatic movements

ginga: basic movement of capoeira

jogar: to play

passape: outside to inside crescent kick

negativa: literally “negative”; basic defense

macaco: “monkey flip”; a low back handspring

meia lua de compasso: low spining kick with hands on the ground

mortal: backflip

piao de cabesa (de mao): spin on the head (spin on the hands)

pontape cruzado/martelo: “roundhouse kick”; strike with the top of foot

queixada: circular kick; strike with the outside of the foot

rasteira: a sweeping trip; trademark capoeira move

role: “roll”; basic defense

tesoura: “scissors”; a takedown

volta ao mundo: “around the world”; circling the roda


Angola: traditional capoeira; usually played slow and close to the ground

angoleiro: a practitioner of the capoeira angola style

atabaque: a drum

ataque – attacking move or movement initiative

axe: life force; energy of capeira

batizado – the capoeira initiation ceremony; baptism

beriba: wood for making berimbau

berimbau: one-stringed precussion instrument

Besouro: a famous capoeirista who had legendary mandinga, a beetle

Bimba: a famous deceased capoeira mestre; father of capoeira regional

cabaça: gourd resonator of the berimbau

capoeirista: one who plays capoeira

camará: comrade

caxixí: shaker played with the berimbau

corda: “cord”; capoeira belt used to show advancement

corridos: call and response songs accompanying action in the circle

costas: back (anatomy)

defesa: defensive movement

dobrao: coin used to play the berimbau

esquiva: escape movement [basic movement]

fechado: to be closed

fechar: to close

frente: front

gunga: bass berimbau

hora: hour; time

jogador – player

jogo: game; a game of capoeira; the verb is jogar

ladainha: introductory solo of roda or game, usually sung by a mestre

maculêlê: stick fighting dance

malandragem: double-dealing or cunning

malandro: crook or streetwise person

malícia: deception, trickery, double-dealing

mandigueiro: a tricky capoeira player

mangangá: sorcerer, healer in the Afro-Brazilian tradition

mar: ocean

medio: middle pitched berimbau

mestre: master, senior capoeira teacher

moleque: street urchin; punk

nome de guerra – nickname given to a player in the course of his training, sometimes as part of a batizado initiation

pandeiro: a tambourine

Pastinha: famous deceased teacher of Capoeira Angola from Bahia

patuá: amulet worn around the neck for protection

pé do berimbau: position in front of the berimbau

reco-reco: ribbed bamboo scraper

Regional – innovative, modern style of capoeira, associated with Mestre Bimba

roda: circle; circle made of people where capoeira is played

Salvador: capital city of Bahia; birthplace of Capoeira as we know it today

samba: brazilian rhythm and dance

sequencia – sequence of moves learned by players in Regional style

solta: no hands; a jump (au solta)

tocar: to touch; to play music

vadicao: loafing, hanging around; synonym for capoeira

vaqueta: stick used to strike the string of the berimbau

viola: the highest pitched berimbau

Glossary adapted from Mestre Acoderon

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