The following article is written by our board memeber, Joseph Gell who is also one of our Capoeira Angola instructors.  

Capoeira Angola is a healing artform that has helped myself and my children to grow further and heal from any trauma.  The deeply rooted Afro-Brazilian artform is a combination of martial arts, dance and music.  When slaves were brought to Brazil from Angola, they brought their sprituality and culure with them.  The spirituality and culture sustained a connection with the ancestors and deities that they still highly revere today.  
 In the 1500's during the early days of Portuguese colonial rule in Brazil, Capoeira  was  and still is a means of liberating and defending oneself against the slave master.  The slaves would mask the martial aspect of the artform as a dance to disguise the "combative movements" when the overseer would come around.  Many used the power of the artform to free themelves from slavery and became Cimarones or Maroons.  The Cimarones created Quilombos or communal villages in the deep of the Amazon.  The most populated and notorious Quilombo was Quilobo dos Palmares.  Palmeras was a Cimarones stronghold for 89 years.
During the 18th and 19th century, the ruling Portuguese and most of society viewed Capoeira as a dangerous, barbaric and forbidden practice. Even when slavery was abolished in 1888, the practice of Capoeira remained illegal up until the 1930's.  Many Angoleros ( practitioners of Capoiera Angola) were imprisoned or murdered for years up until decriminalization of the artform in the 1930's.  From this point on in Brazil, Capoeira became more accepted in everday Brazilian society.
One person who was very instrumental with the artform's integration into society, was Mestre(Master) Vicent Feirreira Pastinha.  Mestre Pastinha was born a year after the abolishment of slavery in 1889 in Salvador, State of Bahia.  He is considered to be the Godfather of Modern Capoeira. Pastinha learned Capoeira Angola from a former slave named Benedito.  Benedito taught Pastinha so that he could defend himself from an older school bully.  He also taught his fellow classmates and others for nearly a decade.  Pastinha took a 29 year hiatus from Capoeira.  In 1941 he opened the first Capoeira Academy in Brazil.
Pastinha's top student is the current and oldest patriarch of Capoeira Angola, Mestre Joao Grange. Grange brought and opened up the first Capoeira Angola Center in New York in 1990.  In the next 3 decades Capoeira Angola grew rapidly in North America, and the rest of the Earth.  Capoeira has been proven to be a healing vehicle against global injustice not just for those of African descent, but for all of humanity.  For more indepth information on the culture of this healing artform you can go to: www.ficadc.org     
Categories: California

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