There are over 170 different martial arts around the world, and few of them are as unique or peculiar as capoeira.
Capoeira is a Brazilian movement art that is a combination of martial arts and dance.
Instead of sparring matches, where two contestants fight each other for supremacy, capoeira is all about flowing movements where you and your partner rarely make contact.
As such, most of the ‘attacks’ come in the form of kicks, which your opponents are expected to dodge and deflect.
Capoeira looks hard, but many beginners can pick up the basics surprisingly fast. In this article, we will be looking at a few of the basic kicks in capoeira and how to do them.
Ginga is one of the first things you will learn in Capoeira, and it is essential to understand if you want to learn any kicks. This is a basic stance which you can start from to launch into various kicks and strikes.
It is not a static stance, but instead a pattern of movement whereby you alternate your feet between three main positions.
Starting with your feet more than shoulder width apart in a wide stance, you can start stepping backwards, so one foot is in front of the other with your heels roughly in line.
Step one foot back, then return to your wide stance before switching to your other foot. Move your arms in time with your legs so that one arm goes backwards in time with the opposite leg.
When you return to your wide stance, bring both your hands up to your chest so that they are loosely together but not touching.
The ginga is simple to learn, and is a good foundation for building your own movement flow. Your steps backwards shouldn’t be lunges, but more of a bouncy alternating between both feet.
Capoeira Front Kick
After you have practiced your ginga, you are ready to start learning some kicks (see also ‘What Martial Art Has The Strongest Kicking Technique?‘). It is important to practice transitioning seamlessly from ginga to a kick, as the whole idea is that your movement should be fluid.
The front kick in Capoeira is designed to be a push kick, aiming not to strike your opponent, but instead to push them away from you.
While you are doing your ginga, wait until you have returned to your wide stance and then kick with the opposite leg to the one that just stepped back (which we will call the front leg for the rest of this guide).
Raise your leg, so it is bent at the knee with your foot pointing at the ground. Next, fully extend your leg out in front of you, pushing outward with the sole of your foot.
Depending on how fast you straighten your knee, this can also work as a snap kick as well as a push kick.
Compasso is a special type of swing kick that goes out behind your body. Starting from the wide stance in ginga, step out your front leg and angle your foot inwards so you turn sideways.
Bending at the hips, place both your hands on the ground for support. Then raise the opposite leg to the one that stepped forward, so it is extended directly behind you.
Pivot on your standing foot while keeping your back leg extended, so it does a full circle, and you end up facing your original direction.
It will take a bit of practice to get the pivot nice and smooth, but once you do, you should be able to use your hands to push away from the mat to gain more momentum.
This time, we start the kick after one of our feet has stepped back during ginga. Instead of the foot stepping straight back, pivot your ankle so your foot lands sideways. Step the front foot forward, so you turn to the side.
Bring your back foot up to meet your front foot with a cross step, and then kick up your front leg and swing outwards away from your body.
The kick should naturally return you to a wide stance, so you can resume ginga. At first, you may struggle to get this kick high enough, but as your flexibility improves, you should be able to use it to aim for the chest or head.
This is a very similar kick to Queixada, except it is a little harder. From a wide stance, turn around so that your feet are slightly closer together.
The turn requires you to step with one foot while pivoting on the other, and the kick is executed with the pivot foot.
Lifting your leg at full extension, just like in Queixada, swing your kicking foot in an arc around your body, so you turn back around to face your original direction.
Your kicking foot should end behind your standing leg, so you can resume ginga.
Meia Lua De Frente
This is our last kick, and the name literally translates to a half moon kick. This is very similar to Armada and Queixada in that it is a swing kick.
However, this time you need to swing your leg inwards towards your other leg rather than away from it.
From a wide stance, swing your front foot out, so it is 45° away from the center of your body and bring it inwards towards your other leg.
At the end of the kick, you can bend your leg and return it to a wide stance. Try to use the side of your foot for this kick as much as possible.
These are just a few of the many kicks that are commonly used in Capoeira. There are many others to learn as well, along with multiple dodges and other moves that can be used to evade them.
Capoeira is a great form of exercise, and a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
If you are looking for a martial art that isn’t too focused on active combat and sparring, then it is definitely worth trying capoeira to see if you enjoy it.