Capoeira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ]) is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves from Africa, sometime after the sixteenth century. It was developed in the region of Quilombo dos Palmares, located in the Brazilian state of Alagoas, which was the state of Pernambuco before dismemberment, and has had great influence on Afro-Brazilian generations, with strong presence in the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Participants form a roda, or circle, and take turns either playing musical instruments (such as the Berimbau), singing, or ritually sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. The sparring is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, takedowns, and with extensive use of leg sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws. Its origins and purpose are a matter of debate, with theories ranging from views of Capoeira as a uniquely Brazilian folk dance with improvised fighting movements to claims that it is a battle-ready fighting form directly descended from ancient African techniques.
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