Playing and the Berimbau

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art descended from African slaves.  Inherent to the art is the use of music and dance; it was practiced and developed in secret, and the presence of music helped it appear to the powers that be that it was part of a harmless ceremony.  Music is such a part of the art that participants “play” at capoeira; they don’t practice or spar.

The instrument traditionally associated with Capoeira is a berimbau, a single stringed instrument with a hollowed out gourd used as a resonator pictured here.  Berimbau-1024x682It almost certainly descended from traditional African percussion instruments, though today’s berimbau is unique to Brazil and those who play at Capoeira abroad.

Music has a long association with martial prowess – battle cries often arose out of gourds, shells, and, later, bugles and trumpets.  But most martial arts are meant to be quiet; the element of surprise is something to be maintained as long as possible.  Capoeira is a beautiful hybrid of martial art, dance, and almost a “get to know you” ritual.  It’s beautiful to watch, and the participants tend to be gentle, wonderful human beings.

Take a watch/listen to this capoeira play session, which is pretty much exactly how it goes.  You can see the top of a berimbau poking up from the heads of the circle:

Thanks for reading.



  1. […] there was Capoeira, so I tried my best to snap a photo, since  I wrote a while back on the lovely and musical Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that incorporates music and dance along with martial movement.  The […]

  2. […] martially in a special martial arts workshop at my school.  Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art I’ve written about before, and I’ve also previously noted a brief performance I was able to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: