LaBonita - Capoeira is pronounced: “KAH-POO-AIR-AH” and is an Afro-Brazilian martial art, which has dance-like movements and is known by some as the origin of breakdancing due to the floor movements. Unlike other martial arts, there is a lot more culture that is still intact… the commands given are still in Brazilian-Portuguese and there is a musical background included in the art form as well… songs are sung in Brazilian-Portuguese while playing berimbau (a bow like one-stringed instrument hit with a stick aka baquetta, and it changes pitch by placing a stone/coin aka dobrao on or taking it away from the string). Other accompanying instruments include atabaque (similar to a conga drum) and pandero (tambourine). The majority of songs they sing are a verse - chorus - verse - chorus that continues and keeps the energy up while people play one-on-one in the center of the roda (said: HO-DAH) which is a circle including musicians, singers and other players. The game is played one-on-one and people can buy in to play with one of the current players.
The art form consists of offensive and defensive movements consisting of acrobatics, kicks and floor movements. The floor movements use a great deal of upper body strength and the kicks are trained so you can respond quickly.
The berimbau (the instrument mentioned above) is said to be the soul of capoeira… it sets the tone for what kind of game will be played and how fast or slow the capoeiristas play.
You can find some clips on utube.com which I find shows a vast spread of the art form. You will see some groups emphasize the floor movements more than others but that’s the beauty of it. I hope I was able to help shed some light on what it is…
Another site w info is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira
My group I play with is: