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Glossary of Capoeira Terms

Page history last edited by Contramestre Café (Chanzo Greenidge) 11 years, 8 months ago

Capoeira Glossary


Basic Capoeira Vocabulary

When you step into your first capoeira class, you will be bombarded by many foreign words. Don’t worry. You don’t need to be fluent in Brazilian Portuguese to play capoeira, but it would help you to know a few basic words you may hear while training:


Numbers (One – Ten)

um: 1

dois: 2

tres: 3

quatro: 4

cinco: 5

seis: 6

sete: 7 (pronounced “setch”)

oito: 8 (pronounced “oy-toh”)

nove: 9 (pronounced noh-vay)

dez: 10



quando: when

onde: where

o que: what

por que: why

quem: who

como: how



eu: I

voce: you

ele/ela: he/she

nos: we


Body Parts

mao: hand

braco: arm

cabeca: head

cotovelo: elbow

perna: leg

pe: foot

joelho: knee



berimbau: the main instrument of capoeira

atabaque: the capoeira drum

pandeiro: the capoeira tambourine



de novo: again

mais uma vez: one more time

assim: like this

pior: worse

melhor: better

pouco: few/little

muito: many/very

esquerda: left

direita: right

para tras: backwards

para frente: forward

mais: more

menos: less

rapido: fast

devegar: slow

roda: circle/wheel, this is the circle of people in which the capoeira game is played

jogo: game, jogar capoeira is to play capoeira

volta ao mundo: around the world, this is when capoeiristas circle the roda, usually to catch their breath or take a break in the game

mestre: a master of capoeira

esquiva: dodge

movimento: movement

comprar de jogo: buy the game, this is when you enter the jogo by “cutting out” a player, it’s sometimes considered disrespectful to buy from mestres and other instructors



au amazona: one hand cartwheel kick; trademark capoeira move

armada: basic upright spin kick

aú: capoeira style cartwheel

bananeira: handstand or headstand

banda: movement to trip or flank an opponent

cabeçada: headbutt

chamada: literally to call; ritualized movement across roda (mainly used in Angola)

cisora: “scissors”; a takedown

pisao: flat footed kick to the side

comprar o jogo – to buy a game, entering the circle by cutting in on another player

entrar: to enter

esquiva: escape movement

floreios – acrobatic movements

ginga: basic movement of capoeira

jogar: to play

negativa: literally “negative”; basic defense

macaco: “monkey flip”; a low back handspring

martelo cruzado: “roundhouse kick”; strike with the top of foot

meia lua de compasso: low spining kick with hands on the ground

mortal: backflip

piao de cabesa (de mao): spin on the head (spin on the hands)

queixada: circular kick; strike with the outside of the foot

rasteira: a sweeping trip; trademark capoeira move

role: “roll”; basic defense

volta ao mundo: “around the world”; circling the roda



General Vocabulary

Angola: traditional capoeira; usually played slow and close to the ground

angoleiro: a practitioner of the capoeira angola style

Apelido – nickname given to a player in the course of his training, sometimes as part of a batizado initiation

atabaque: a drum

ataque – attacking move or movement initiative

axe: life force; energy of capeira

batizado – the capoeira initiation ceremony; baptism

beriba: wood for making berimbau

berimbau: one-stringed precussion instrument

Besouro: a famous capoeirista who had legendary mandinga, a beetle

Bimba: a famous deceased capoeira mestre; father of capoeira regional

cabaça: gourd resonator of the berimbau

capoeirista: one who plays capoeira

camará: comrade

caxixí: shaker played with the berimbau

corda: “cord”; capoeira belt used to show advancement

corridos: call and response songs accompanying action in the circle

costas: back (anatomy)

defesa: defensive movement

fechado: to be closed

fechar: to close

frente: front

gunga: bass berimbau

hora: hour; time

jogador – player

jogo: game; a game of capoeira; the verb is jogar

ladainha: introductory solo of roda or game, usually sung by a mestre

maculêlê: stick fighting dance

malandragem: double-dealing or cunning

malandro: crook or streetwise person

malícia: deception, trickery, double-dealing

mandigueiro: a tricky capoeira player

mangangá: sorcerer, healer in the Afro-Brazilian tradition

mar: ocean

medio: middle pitched berimbau

mestre: master, senior capoeira teacher

moleque: street urchin; punk

pandeiro: a tambourine

Pastinha: famous deceased teacher of Capoeira Angola from Bahia

patuá: amulet worn around the neck for protection

pé do berimbau: position in front of the berimbau

reco-reco: ribbed bamboo scraper

Regional – innovative, modern style of capoeira, associated with Mestre Bimba

roda: circle; circle made of people where capoeira is played

samba: brazilian rhythm and dance

sequencia – sequence of moves learned by players in Regional style

tocar: to touch; to play music

vaqueta: stick used to strike the string of the berimbau

viola: the highest pitched berimbau







Glossary adapted from Ring of Liberation and Capoeira Angola Club (Boulder, CO).

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