Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art/ritual/dance that originated with African slaves, kicks ass, both at the club (break dancing is its errant offspring) and in the ring (as undiscerning spectators like me know from watching Marcus Vinicios’ MMA fights on YouTube). The practice, outlawed for years by the Brazilian government, was the scourge of favelas in Rio and Bahia—where gangs called maltas used the two-stepping art to terrorize locals and beat the crap out of rhythmless cops. When the ban was lifted in the 1930s, President Getulio Vargas declared capoeira Brazil’s national sport—that’s right, screw you, soccer. Many decades later, the dance-fight has landed in Shaw, where the folks at the International Capoeira Angola Foundation practice the traditional Bahian form of the sport, which focuses on principles like maintaining a low center of gravity and outwitting one’s opponents. Capoeira Angola classes can require everything from muscle-burning workouts to singing. Asked to describe what a beginner student might experience, ICAF founder and teacher Mestre (master) Cobra Mansa, says cryptically, “Come and see.”