Monday, January 23, 2017

Women Who Perform Capoeira - Brazilian Martial Arts (information & videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides one article excerpt and one book excerpt about women capoeristas (women who perform capoeira). Five videos of women capoeristas are also included in this post.

Information about the Portuguese word "gingado" is found in the Addendum. The word "gingado" is included in the name of the capoeira group that is showcased in the video given as Example #3.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all women capoeiristas past and present. Thanks to those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these featured videos.

From Women in capoeira: Express yourself and be strong! Written by Monique Mizrahi Source: Soul Brasil Magazine
"Capoeira is freedom, expression, creation, improvisation. It’s a song, a dance, a martial art, a philosophy for survival. It embodies respect, dignity, and grace as a conversation, a ritual, a tradition, and a savior. “Zum zum zum, capoeira salva um” (Zum zum zum, capoeira saves).

Women from all walks of life have long been fighting for their rights. Whether it’s the right to vote or the right to choose, women are demanding that their voices be heard. In ancient societies, women were the healers and the doctors, well-versed in natural remedies and delivering babies. There were women warriors and women military leaders who held a respected role in society, employing both masculine hardness and feminine charm. With the scientific revolution and industrialization of religion, men viewed women less as fighters and more as an inferior gender belonging at home. However, during the past forty years, women have worked hard to eradicate the ‘shadow of a man’ image and have gained independence in what they do, who they are, and what they can become. Capoeiristas! (practitioners of capoeira) ….

Brazilian authorities outlawed slavery in 1888 and shortly thereafter [outlawed] capoeira as well. In an attempt to cleanse away their bloody past, the government destroyed nearly all official documents regarding slavery. Ex-slaves moved from the countryside to the city for opportunities but were overwhelmed with unemployment. They formed gangs to survive, arming themselves with razorblades and capoeira. It was deadly and countless capoeiristas were caught by the police and sent to jail for their involvement. During this period, women stayed away from capoeira. The men fought out on the streets while the women presumably remained indoors, raising children and tending the home. Mestres (masters of capoeira) carried on the traditions of their beloved art. “The mentality of the mestres of that era was to teach capoeira to anyone who wished to learn. However, society greatly discriminated against women who wished to fight capoeira, pressuring them not to participate in any activity with risks and calling them lesbians if they did,” explains Contra-Mestre Jô of Grupo Capoeira Brasil in New York.

Capoeira was not illegal for long because of one legendary man with a vision . . . Mestre Bimba. Born a free man in 1899 to a capoeirista father, Bimba dedicated his life to preserving capoeira. In the 1930’s, he convinced the fascist government, led by Vargas, that capoeira was Brazil’s national heritage, worthy of being honored as such. Bimba stressed the Brazilian, rather than African, roots of capoeira. As an ardent nationalist, Vargas realized that capoeira was unique to Brazil’s national identity and legalized its practice only in an academy setting. So Bimba opened the first formal capoeira academy in Salvador da Bahia, teaching capoeira to both the poor and rich, including women who could again return to the game. He introduced formal sequences and very strict academy rules: don’t smoke, practice the fundamentals daily, avoid conversation during training and keep your body relaxed. “I believe that Mestre Bimba was delighted to see good capoeiristas, women as much as men, learning the art that he created and developed,” Jo said. “The pride of the leaders of capoeira today is still that; teaching capoeira of body, soul and heart.”

Brazil may have started accepting women in capoeira later than other countries due to the local associations of capoeira with revolution, power struggles, and machismo. “In Brazil, they said that capoeira was made for men, not for women, and that the women’s place was in the kitchen,” confesses Jô, originally from Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil. “I was the only woman in my capoeira class so my mom didn’t want me to go. With much insistence, I managed to keep going. Things have changed a lot today.” When Instrutor Guerreira expressed her desire to take capoeira classes in Minas Gerais, Brazil, her mom had a similar reaction. “My mother didn’t want to let me play because it was a man’s sport, violent and dangerous.” Guerreira prevailed and now shares her passion for capoeira as an Instrutor with Grupo Quilombo do Queimado in Seattle. In the last thirty years, many Brazilian capoeiristas have emigrated from Brazil to share their capoeira, as Guerreira did. As a result, capoeira academies have been established in cities around the world, open for all women to join, train and play. Naturally, capoeira has surged in popularity, among both women and men. “Capoeira é pra homem, menina, e mulher” (Capoeira is for men, children, and women — a quote from the great Mestre Pastinha).”....
This excerpt was reformatted for this post.

I believe that in capoeira "roda" ("wheel") refers to the circle where capoeira is performed.

Capoeira: A History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art by Matthias Röhrig Assunção
[book review]
Psychology Press, 2005 - Performing Arts - 267 pages
"Originally the preserve of Afro-Brazilian slaves, the marginalized and the underclasses in Brazilian society, capoeira is now a mainstream sport, taught in Brazilian schools and practised by a range of social classes around the world. Some advocates now seek Olympic recognition for Capoeira.

This apparent change in the meaning and purpose of Capeoira has led to conflicts between traditionalists, who view capoeira as their heritage descended from the maroons, a weapon to be used against the injustice and repression; and reformers, who wish to see Capoeira develop as an international sport.

Capoeira: The History of Afro-Brazilian Martial Art explores Capoeira as a field of confrontation where the different struggles that divide Brazilian society are played out. It contains both the first comprehensive English language review of archive and contemporary literature relating to Capoeira, as well as the first scholarly account of Capoeira's history and development.

Capoeira: A History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art
by Matthias Röhrig Assunção
from Google books:
Page 108
"Playing capoeira intermingled with other recreational activities carried out in a circle (roda) accompanied by Afro-Bahian music and dance: samba, batuque, and bate-coxa...

Page 109
In neighborhoods and festivals women were present, although in capoeira only as spectators. Gender roles were clearly expressed or reinforced in Afro-Bahian manifestations. Capoeria was a male-centered activity, while women dominated candomble. Only women danced to fall into trance; only men played capoeira. And both danced together in the samba de roda. As always, there were exceptions to the rule, but transgressors were subjected to doubts about their sexual orientation. That is why only very few-exceptional-women played capoeira in the early twentieth-century Bahia. Oral history remembers mainly Palmeirona (or Palmeirao) and Maria Homen….Palmeirao was another “troublemaker” women.... M. Pastinha asserted she clipped her skirt between her legs with her belt. After that she was ready to beat up police officers and throw them to the ground with head butts. The memory of different women using capoeira to challenge police officers seems to have become somewhat blurred, since the same story is also told by M Canjiquinha for a character called Maria Doze Homens, which he said defeated twelve police officers at the Baixa dos Sapaterios. Liberac discovered a court case of a fight between washerwomen in 1900. One of them was accused of invading a shop and stood against another woman ‘in gestures of who plays capoeira trying to beat her.’

The evidence is thin, but what is striking is that all episodes describe women who knew capoeira as inevitably masculinized, as indeed the name ‘Maria Homen’ (‘Mary Man’) suggests. They are remembered as troublemakers, not as skillful players of the game in a roda. The subordinate role male capoeiras assigned to ‘ordinary’ women is expressed in verses such as ‘She has golden teeth. I ordered her to put them.’ The reinforcement of traditional gender roles through capoeira explains why, later, women had to struggle hard in order to be fully accepted in the roda."...

Example #1: Roda dia das Mulheres - Grupo Candeias 2009 [Women's Roda (Wheel)

Coalhadacap, Uploaded on Mar 12, 2009

Roda no Pq. Vaca Brava em comemoração ao dia das Mulheres. Organização: C.Mestra Iuna, C.Mestra Amazonas, Prof. Dendê, Prof. Vivian

Example #2: Capoeira Girls - Motivation

Claudio Amorim, Uploaded on Jun 22, 2011
Tradução: " Voce realmente acha que capoeira é apenas para homens? espere até voce ver isto ...
Google translate from Portuguese to English:
Do you really think capoeira is only for men? Wait until you see this ...

Video Reprodução: Associação de Capoeira Mestre Bimba & Grupo de Capoeira Regional Porto da Barra (Salvador - Bahia)

* Respeitando as filmagens originais dos grupos

- This video is a tribute to all capoeira women in this world

- Este video é um tributo a todas as mulheres capoeiristas de todo o mundo

Example #3: Roda Feminina Feira do Guará - Grupo Gingado Capoeira

Fernanda Nunes Uploaded on Nov 13, 2011

Semana Cultural Grupo Gingado Capoeira

Roda Feminina - Feira do Guará

Alunas Mestre Pablo de Brasília, Piauí e Venezuela, e membros do Grupo do Rio de Janeiro e Paraná! Muito axé para todos os camaradas de todos os cantos desse Brasilzão sem fronteiras, América do sul e Europaaaaa - não nos esqueceremos da galera na Espanha!!!
Google translate from Portuguese to English:
Students Pablo de Brasília, Piauí and Venezuela, and members of the Group of Rio de Janeiro and Paraná! Much to all the comrades from all corners of this Brasilzão without borders, South America and Europeaaaa - we will not forget the galera in Spain !!!
Information about the Portuguese word "gingado" is found in the Addendum.

Example #4: Festival de capoeira da mulher em Goiás

Jose Olindino Published on Mar 12, 2013

Festival de Capoeira da mulher - Goiania - Goiás - Evento maravilhoso, organizado pelo competente Mestre Pança, Aconteceu aqui em Goiânia no Ginásio Rio Vermelho, nos dias 08, 09 e 10 de março, em comemoração ao dia da mulher. O evento contou com presença de grandes mestres da capoeira, Mestre Onça Negra, Mestre Deputado, Mestre Pança, Mestre Suino, dentro outros grandes.
Google translate from Portuguese to English:
Capoeira Women's Festival - Goiania - Goiás - Wonderful event, organized by the competent Mestre Panza, It happened here in Goiânia at Ginásio Rio Vermelho, on March 8, 09 and 10, in celebration of the woman's day. The event was attended by great masters of capoeira, Mestre Onça Negra, Mestre Deputy, Mestre Panza, Mestre Suino, among others great.

Example #5: Capoeira Crush - Amazing Women Capoeiristas!

Vayabobo,Published on May 6, 2014

Watch these women crush it at capoeira!

Music: "Capofreshin" by Kahlil Bolahan

Check out Part II: Capoeira Exchange Video:

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of fighting techniques, dance, acrobatics and music. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences.



Mestra Marisa Cordeiro - Gingarte Capoeira Chicago, IL
Professora Minha Velha (Dana Maman) - Capoeira Batuque South Bay, CA
Professora Pavão (Jessica Carla) - Capoeira Brazil LA/East LA, CA
Professora Gata Brava (Leigh Robertson) - Capoeira Morro Verde, PA
Professora Raposa (Amy Campion) - Capoeira Batuque LA, CA
Professora Fogueira (Siobhan Hayes) - United Capoeira Association Berkley, CA
Professora Formiguinha (Susan Osterhoff) - Capoeira Ijexá San Francisco, CA
Professora Budinha (Louise McCarthy) - Capoeira Batuque LA, CA

I started researching the meaning of the word "gingado" when I read it in a YouTube comment written in Portuguese. That comment is found in a discussion thread for the Nigerian video for the afrobeat song "Kukere" by Iyanya. In that comment "gingado" referred to the CEO dancers: two women from Nigeria ancestry and one woman with South African ancestry who competed in the Britain's Got Talent television show. Here's a link to the Iyanya Kukere video. By the way, a number of commenters wrote that the dancers performed the Nigerian Etighi dance in that video and in their Britain's Got Talent performances. Here's the link to that video:

Quote from iYANYA KUKERE
Karen, 2015
"Amei! Que gingado eles tem."
Google translate from Portuguese to English:
Loved it! How gingado they have.
My suggested translation [What gingado they have. - meaning that they have a lot of "swag".

The earliest "hits" that I found for the word "gingado" were videos of people performing capoeira, such as the video featured as Example #3 above. c

Here are comments from a blog about the meaning of the word "gingado":
From Gingado: Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by winterbloom, Feb 21, 2014.

I'm sorry I will have to post in English because I am actually an English/Spanish speaker. I am looking for a translation, or just explanation of the word "gingado" as it would be used in Brazilian Portuguese. The context is that a friend of mine (male) whom I can often communicate with based on his English or our fumbling through Spanish/Portuguese cognates, told me that he likes my "gingado." From his explanation I understand it has something to do with a person's rhythm, or way of moving, but I can't really conceptualize it. I don't know if it is a gender specific word, but I am a woman. Any help to appease my curiosity on the subject would be greatly appreciated. :)

Reply by Darth Nihilus, Feb 21, 2014
"Hello winterbloom.

"Gingado" is a difficult word to render into English. It has to do with the way you move. If you move clumsily about, then you don't have much "gingado". A possible tranlastion (though not 100% accurate) is "swag".

Eu gosto do teu gingado! = I like yo swag!

Reply by Guigo, Feb 21, 2014
"I think that ginga or gingado refer originally to the odd movements related to the capoeira dance & fight. Later these words were adopted to show the skills of samba dancers (similar to the capoeira fighters in a couple of instances). Sometimes they are translated into English as "swing".

They are also used metaphorically to show the acrobacies and twists people (we) do to cope with the daily 'fights' of their (our) existence.

Hence, I believe your friend is telling you that he likes the way you talk, live, walk, smile, etc. If someone tells me he/she likes my gingado I'll take it warmly. :)

BTW, it's not a gender specific word. It may be applied either for women or men."

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