Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art form that has earned international notoriety for its beauty and the skills required of its practitioners. Because capoeira involves a combination of dance, acrobatics and fighting skills, those who practice must exceed physical strength and cultivate endurance, flexibility, and intuition. The music played and sung by the capoeiristas provides the rhythm for the games, while capoeiristas create a dialogue of movements.
The appeal of the game and its philosophy is so widespread that it is now practiced worldwide. Because capoeira was practiced secretly for many years, its definite origins remain elusive. Most researchers agree that capoeira emerged among the enslaved Africans in Brazil in the 16th and 17th centuries as a means of fight training. Unlike enslavers in the northern hemisphere, masters in Brazil permitted the enslaved people to sing and dance. Eventually, Brazilian enslavers felt threatened by the enslaved people's games and the fight aspects camouflaged by the dance and music.
The beauty its players created in the "roda" (or circle) allowed the game to survive. After slavery's abolition in 1888, capoeira was outlawed until the 1930s because it had become a lethal martial art. Once these laws were repealed, the Brazilian government recognized capoeira as Brazil's only actual sport.