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Only a few nobles such as D. Pedro and Juca Reis recognized the value of capoeira and practiced it secretly. Finally in 1932, a mestre (teacher) named Manoel Machado (nicknamed Mestre Bimba), born in Sao Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, received an invitation to perform for Brazilian President Getulio Vargas. Getulio Vargas was impressed and subsequently ended the prohibition of the art. In 1972 capoeira became an official Brazilian sport, and rules and regulations for competition were implemented. Later it spread outside its homeland. A small number of schools now operate in Europe, the United States and a few other countries, where capoeira lives as a testimony to the indomitable spirit and ingenuity of its Brazilian founders and a unique expression of their culture. Prerequisites Capoeira instructor Deraldo Ferreira established schools in his home country of Brazil and in Montreal before relocating to Boston. “Capoeira is spontaneous, not choreographed,” he says. “It requires acute attention and cooperation between the players.” Deraldo Ferreira claims that the unique character of the art stems from the acrobatic way the kicks are performed, and from the way training sessions and matches are often accompanied by music from traditional Brazilian instruments such as the pandeiro (tambourine), atabaque (conga drum) and berimbau (single-string bow). Before a capoeira student learns how to kick, he must learn the ginga. “All kicking techniques start with the ginga,” Deraldo Ferreira says. It’s the root from which all capoeira kicks grow — both offensive and defensive. It allows the practitioner to impart maximum momentum and body motion to his kick. Thus, capoeira stylists can generate more powerful kicking techniques than can practitioners of martial arts in which students merely use their leg muscles to push the foot straight into the target. After having traveled extensively in Brazil to study many different styles of capoeira, Deraldo Ferreira prefers the X-type footwork of the ginga because it allows him more opportunities when moving. Other variations of capoeira employ L-shaped footwork. Kinds of Kicks When looking at the kicks of capoeira, it’s important to realize that 80 percent are circular and very versatile. “There are no basic kicking techniques in capoeira,” Deraldo Ferreira says. “Everything is based on the right move for the right situation.” Many factors are involved in capoeira kicking. Depending on what the practitioner’s intentions are, a kick may move in a snapping, pushing, circling or swinging fashion. The kicker stays in constant motion while he attacks and counterattacks, so the position he ends up in after each technique is important. Students find capoeira training strenuous because they must support their bodyweight in a multitude of positions. And because many techniques are practiced in slow motion as well as at full speed, the muscles used to kick and move the body must be developed. This variable-speed practice enables the student to better analyze the technique he’s performing. It accounts for the fact that when people observe capoeira, they’re impressed by its graceful and fluid movements and by the power and effectiveness those movements possess. (To be continued.)