Learn the basic Capoeira moves!
In this section, you will find the main capoeira moves explained in details. For several of the capoeira moves you will find a short video for better explanation. The techniques are explained in alphabetical order but this does not mean that you have to learn them that way. In any case, if you have decided to play Capoeira, it is best to start learning Ginga and then continue with the easiest of the techniques.
Pronounced jinga, it is the most basic movement in Capoeira. It is done by moving back and forth alternating both legs in shoulder-width describing a triangular form. The hands are moving with the body aiming to protect those parts that are opened and easy to be attacked. Check out the video to see how Ginga is done.
In Capoeira Angola, the Ginga is more individualistic. In Capoeira Regional, the Ginga is more defined and structured. Still, the player can add his own style to it. In both Capoeira styles, the Ginga is performed to transfer the body to another move – offensive or defensive.
The Capoeira Au is known as cartwheel in gymnastics and other martial arts. However, in Capoeira the Aú is performed slowly and in most cases with arms and legs bent forward to protect the player from incoming kicks and attacks. From Au, the player can also easily kick the opponent. When performing Au, it is very important for the player fighter to look at the opponent in other to be informed for any incoming attacks. To do this the player has to place his head between his hands looking straight instead of looking at the ground.
This is a combination of feint moves performed side to side (from one leg to the other) in order to deceive the opponent and make it hard for him to track the player’s next move. In Balanca, the arms of the capoeirista are moving from side to side as done in Ginga while protecting the face. This move is often the leading move of many quick kicks, headbutts and hand-strikes.
Simply, it is a handstand position in which the hands of the capoeirista are placed in shoulder-width and the legs above his head. Like in Au, the head of the player is located between his hands looking toward the other player. This capoeira move is often used when a capoeirista needs a quick break and wants to see the opponent’s next move. It is believed that the name of bananeira comes from the banana trees in Brazil.
In translation, Macaco means a monkey. This movement has been called like that as it is more like a monkey move than anything else. In short, it is a back flip performed low to the ground. It requires strength and flexibility but also a very good technique. It might be dangerous and for this a newbie may start practicing it with the assistance of othercapoeiristas.
To start the Macaco, place your body into a crouch position with one hand located on the floor right behind you. The other hand should be free to move up and down, as it will give your body speed and direction for the jump. Located in that position try stretch your body holding your hips up and try to reach the floor with your free hand moving it over the head. Try to do that several times and when you are ready try to lift your legs over the head as well and transfer them to the other side of the body. If you need, you may help with your free hand by placing it to the floor right after the legs come off the ground. Check out the video to see how to do the Macaco move in details.
The Negativa is a capoeira move used to negate an incoming attack by lowering the body to the ground on the one side or the other. The body is supported by one hand while the other is protecting the face. The legs are located close to one another – the leg close to the hand on the ground is placed in extended position and the other one is tucked. The body should be bent to the legs to avoid kicks in the head. The Negativa is a very useful technique due to the fact that while protecting himself the player can hook the leg of the opponent while his other is throwing a kick or performing another movement.
The Negativa in Angola is a slightly different from the standard Negativa. Here, the capoeirista bents very low with hands located on the ground and legs free to flow around. The one hand is supporting the front chest and the other the back. The body is a bit twisted to one side so that the upper leg is stretched in front and the lower is bent benhind. To keep the balance the upper leg may touch the ground, however the ideal Negativa Angola is performed with floating legs.
The Role (pronounced ho-le) means “a roll” in Portuguese and as Ginga and Au is often used as a basic technique for moving in the Roda. In most cases it is used in combination with other movements – Ginga, Negativa, Esquivas, etc. In Role, the body is bent forward spinning to one side while the head is placed in a position suitable to constantly watch the opponent. The Role is finished when the body makes turn in 180 degrees.
In capoeira, the Ponte technique is widely used as a standalone but also as a transitional or defensive move. It is actually a basic back bridge (back bend) where the hands and the legs are located on the ground, the back is forming an arc and the stomach is facing upward. Experienced capoeiristas can make a Ponte from a standing position by falling backwards on your palm. A newbie, should take a close look at the Ponte explanation in the video.