Capoeira is a indigenous - Tupi - word which means the vegetation type that arise after forest cutting. In colonial Brazil this name was also given to the "Game of Angola" that appeared in the farms and cities when the first groups of Bantu Africans were brought enslaved.
Capoeira was played at the slave quarters, streets and 'quilombos' and it was seen as a threat by the rulers that so established, in 1821, repression measures against 'capoeiristas', including physical punishments and imprisonment.
The police measures against Capoeira playing only stopped being in force in the decade of 1930, but this did not mean that it was accepted fully and that their apprentices had the sympathy of the Brazilian society.
Carybé, Capoeira, 1981
The "Game of Angola" was not accepted as a form of corporal expression of individuals and groups, most of them Africans or Afro-brazilians, organized, thinking and vigorous human beings. It was transformed as folklore, with decrease of its group meaning for the participants, and later as sport or martial art.
But the non-sportive Capoeira form also remained, linked to groups of Capoeira Angola.
Consequently, two Capoeira branches appeared in the decade of 1940 and they split effectively in the seventies. It happened, on one side, the organization of the sportive Capoeira (Regional Capoeira) as martial art, and, on the other side, the mobilization of afro-cultural resistance groups in Bahia, which noticed in the few 'angoleiro' groups the maintenance of the elements of the Capoeira brought by the Bantu people.
Rosângela Costa Araújo. Sou discípulo que aprende, meu mestre me deu lição: tradição e educação entre os angoleiros bahianos (anos 80 e 90). Dissertação (Mestrado). São Paulo: Faculdade de Educação/USP, 1999.
Reproduction - Instituto Itaú Cultural. Enciclopédia de Artes Visuais. http://www.itaucultural.org.br (27/9/2003).