Capoeira – Brazil’s Martial Arts Dance of War

Slide Falls

April 26, 2011 – Everyone in the dorm slept soundly all night after the big day yesterday. By 10:45 a.m. the two Dutch guys, my Israeli friend, Assaf, and I headed out for a day hike on the nearby river where a large slide-falls was reported to be quite beautiful. The walk there was easy, and only about 1.5 miles on relatively flat terrain.

Assaf and Fellow Hikers at Slide Fall Pool

The slide-falls was long and wide, and people were actually sliding down while standing up on their feet – amazing! We swam in the pool at the base of the slide, and then Assaf tried his luck down the slide, too! It took a lot of balance and letting go of fear to accomplish it – the water rushes furiously around the ankles and calves and wants to sweep you away, and the stone beneath your feet is slippery, smooth and uneven – a perfect recipe for an accident. But he made it and splashed into the pool at the base of the slide without hurting himself.

Termite Mound in Tree

We put our hiking clothes back on and hiked upstream past natural swimming holes, interesting rock outcrops and large balanced boulders, old river beds, turn-offs for other trails, and finally on to a place where we lost the trail. We were only about a kilometer from our destination – a particular falls we had heard about that was supposed to be quite majestic and had another swimming hole at its base. We searched for about a half hour for the trail, and finally a small group with a guide came down from the waterfall.

Ancient Cuts Into Hard Rock Riverbed

The guide told us that the water was higher than normal, and had drowned the river trail trail – that’s why we couldn’t find it. Now a side-skirt trail had been made up higher against the canyon wall, and only the guides knew where it was, apparently. By this time it was 3:30 p.m. and the sun would be down in about another 1.5 hours. We didn’t have time to proceed up to the falls without having to hike back in the dark. Sadly, we all turned around and headed back down river the way we had come.

Me on Top of Boulder Looking UpRiver

Our small group took one last dip in the slide-falls pool, then returned to Lencois and made it back to the Pousada just at dark. We all freshened up, and Assaf and I walked around the town of Lencois that evening. During the walk we came across a performance of the ritual warrior dance – Capoeira – being held at an outdoor public space.

The Guys and Me on Hike up River

Capoeira (Kah-poh-ee-ir-ah) is an ancient African-Brazilian Martial Art form that has a number of specific moves to it, similar to other martial art forms, but done to music. It’s also known as dance, or “gaming.” Originally from Africa, these tactics were used as defensive and offensive moves in actual combat, but were outlawed long ago by the Powers-That-Be in Brazil. In order to continue practicing their skills, the tactics were defined as martial art, dance, and gaming.

End of the River Trail

The dancers here in Lencois were mostly youngsters, though some older teachers and performers were also active. Quite a crowd was watching, and there were vendors selling food, souvenirs, videos of Capoeira, and more. The music blared, camera flashes were popping, and people were having quite a time watching the incredible deftness of kicks, ducks, punches, and somersaults being performed by the “gamers.”

Capoeira - Dance of War

Assaf had learned how to do Capoeira back in Israel, and even had his white outfit with him back at the Pousada. He checked with the leaders of the performing group and they said yes, he could “game” with them. He went quickly back to the Pousada and changed, and came back and “danced” with them. It was amazing! Later he commented that their moves were a little different than the ones he had learned. It seems that each place around the world that practice this type of Martial Art has developed their own special style to each move.

Assaf "Gaming" the Capoeira

Afterward, we went back to the Pousada and joined the others for incredible pizza at the outdoor restaurant that suddenly magically appears each evening on the streets once the sun goes down. The shops put tables, chairs, table cloths, lanterns and settings out on the tables on the cobblestone streets, and the streets are transformed each night into open air restaurants – lovely!!!

Last Supper with New Friends

That night 3 of the Pousada guys, including Assaf, left on the overnight bus – I saw them off and said goodbye. Their bus left at 11:30 p.m. Walked through the beautiful streets of Lencois along the river back to the Pousada for another night’s good sleep.

Myself and the Guys at their Night Bus


About sayslife

On Sabbatical to live out some Bucket List dreams. Life just keeps zooming along, and friends keep passing away. Time to live never seems enough, as the daily duties always seem to keep calling. Now I'm changing that. Gonna see the world. Come along for the ride - you're invited :)
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One Response to Capoeira – Brazil’s Martial Arts Dance of War

  1. Pat Robinson says:

    Been busy reading all of your travels! WOW. So glad to have meant you and I got your message today. Maybe I’ll stop by your HOME. Am going out to DHS and soak with couple of girls tomorrow so maybe you want to come.

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