Capoeira and Grupo Bantus Capoeira

What is Capoeira?

Capoeira is a unique blend of martial arts, music, dance, self-expression & instruments. Steeped in strong Afro-Brazilian history, it was once a slave ritual practiced by African descendants in the sugarcane fields and plantations of Brazil.

Combining martial arts movements, music, instruments, acrobatics, dance and self-expression into a high profile, instantly recognisable and visually stunning display of fluidity, grace and athleticism – Capoeira is a communication between the players, the musicians, and the audience.

Capoeira is often touted as Brazil’s greatest cultural export, and these days it can be seen in Hollywood movies, music video clips, television commercials, and on the streets and parks of neighbourhoods all over the world.

Capoeira’s History

During the 1500s, Portugal shipped slaves into South America from all over Africa. Brazil was the largest contributor to slave migration with 42% of all slaves shipped across the Atlantic arriving there. These people brought their cultural traditions and religion with them to the New World. The homogenization of the African people under the oppression of slavery was the catalyst for Capoeira. Capoeira was developed by the slaves of Brazil as a way to resist their oppressors, secretly practice their art, transmit their culture, and lift their spirits. Some historians believe that the indigenous peoples of Brazil also played an important role in the development of Capoeira.

After slavery was abolished, the slaves moved to the cities of Brazil, and with no employment to be found, many joined or formed criminal gangs. They continued to practice Capoeira, and it became associated with anti-government or criminal activities. As a result, Capoeira was outlawed in Brazil in 1892. The punishment for practicing it was extreme, and the police were vicious in their attempt to stamp out the art. Capoeira continued to be practiced, but it moved further underground.

In the 1930s the ban on Capoeira was finally lifted by the Government of Brazil after many famous Capoeira Mestres helped it break free of its tarnished reputation.

It is now practiced in universities, dance schools, primary and high schools, in gyms, on the beaches and the streets across the globe. Capoeira has acquired prestige and admiration, and can now be seen in major Hollywood movies, and in television commercials and dance programs.

In the time of the slaves, Capoeira was an instrument of resistance, today it is a vehicle of social change.


Our Roots in Capoeira History

What does Bantus Mean? 
The name Bantus refers to a broad African ethnic group, the Bantu people, who shared a similar language root and occupied two thirds of Western & Southern Africa (Angola, Guinea, Congo, Mozambique etc). The term Bantu refers to over 400 different ethnic groups from these African regions. –NTU means “human” and BA- indicates a plural, put together it means “people”.

Grupo Bantus Capoeira
Grupo Bantus Capoeira was founded by Mestre Pintor in 1991 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Mestre Pintor has over 40 years experience in Capoeira, and was taught by the world famous Mestre João Pequeno. Bantus Capoeira now has branches across Brazil, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore, Indonesia & Thailand. 

At Bantus Capoeira we play the Angola, Regional, and Contemporânea styles of Capoeira. We also practice Samba, Maculelê, Puxada de Rede, Dança Afro and Forró, all forms of Brazilian dance. 

Mestre Pintor trained with the illustrious Grand Mestre Joao Pequeno de Pastinha. Mestre Joao Pequeno was one of the two most trusted students of Mestre Pastinha who when he passed his training and academy to Mestre Joao Grande and Mestre Joao Pequeno said: ‘I have taught these young men everything I know about Capoeira tradition, even the Cat’s Leap’. Mestre Joao Pequeno kept playing, practising and maintaining the Capoeira tradition in Forte da Bahia, Brazil until his death in 2010 at the age of 94. Salve Mestre!

Mestre Pintor

Mestre Pintor playing with Mestre João Pequeno