List of Key Capoeira Terminology - Words & Commands

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List of Key Capoeira Terminology - Words & Commands

Here are some of the key words, terms and commands used in Capoeira. This acrobatic Brazilian martial arts uses Brazilian Portuguese words and commands.

To learn how to count in Brazilian Portuguese for Capoeira, please visit the Brazilian Portuguese Numbers page.

Words, Terms & Commands used in Capoeira

  • Abada - Pants or a Capoeira group.
  • Academia - A place of training like a hall, gym, school or academy.
  • Aluno - Someone learning Capoeira / A pupil or student.
  • Angola - A style of Capoeira brought into the mainstream by Mestre Pastinha.
  • Angoleiro - Some who practices the Angola style of Capoeira.
  • Apanhar - When someone is defeated.
  • Apelido - A person's nickname.
  • Arame - This is the Steel String part of the Berimbau.
  • Armada - A spinning kick used in Capoeira.
  • Arrastao - A take-down used in Capoeira.
  • Atabaque - Musical drum people use when they have made a circle around the Capoeiristas.
  • Au - Simply a cartwheel.
  • Aula - A class or lesson.
  • Aviso - The rhythmic music coming from the Berimbau. Dictates the tempo of the game.
  • Axe - Capoeira spirit or energy.
  • Bahia - One of the 26 states of Brazil (on the east coast of Brazil).
  • Bamba - A master or expert at Capoeira.
  • Banda - A standing sweep kick where you use your heel.
  • Baqueta - The wooden sticks used to play the Berimbau.
  • Base - Another word for the Ginga.
  • Bater - To defeat.
  • Batizao - The Portuguese word for baptism. This is an initiation event for new Capoeiristas.
  • Bencao - A strong straight kick.
  • Beriba - This is the wood people use to make a Berimbau.
  • Berimbau - The main musical instrument used in Capoeira.
  • Besouro - Famous Capoeirista. They made a movie about him.
  • Bimba - The legendary Mestre Bimba.
  • Brincar - Capoeira for children.
  • Cabecada - A headbutt used in Capoeira.
  • Capoeirista - Someone who does Capoeira.
  • Cavalaria - This was a warning noise made by players of the Berimbau to warn of a police raid.
  • Caxixi - A rattling instrument that looks like a basket. Played along with the Berimbau.
  • Chula - A Capoeira chant.
  • Chutar - Kick someone.
  • Cintura Desprexada - A exercise Capoeiristas use to help them land on there feet.
  • Cocorinha - A defensive squatting position that is used to avoid kicks.
  • Comprar - Enter a circle by cutting in on someone.
  • Contragolpe - A counter attack move used in Capoeira.
  • Contramestre - This is the level below becoming a Mestre.
  • Corda - This is the name of the colored belts used in the grading system.
  • Corridos - Songs when action is happening in the circle.
  • Costas - A move where you show your back.
  • Defesa - A defensive maneuver used in Capoeira.
  • Desequillibrante - A maneuver that unbalances your opponent.
  • Discipulo - This is a disciple of a Capoeira Mestre.
  • Dobrao - An old coin that used to be used to play the Berimbau.
  • E - Is.
  • Ele - He.
  • Entrar - When someone enters the Roda.
  • Esquiva - A defensive movement.
  • Eu - I.
  • Faca - A knife.
  • Fazer - To make.
  • Fechado - To be shut/closed.
  • Fechar - To close.
  • Ficar - To stay.
  • Floreios - A very acrobatic Capoeira maneuver.
  • Folha Seca - These are a type of dry leaves.
  • Fome - To be hungry.
  • Forca - Strength.
  • Formatura - An event for when someone becomes a Mestre.
  • Forte - Strong.
  • Frente - Front.
  • Frio - Cold.
  • Fundamentos - Used to explain Capoeiras beginnings.
  • Galo - A rooster.
  • Ginga - The continuous left to right movement. This is the starting point of all moves.
  • Golpe - An attack move.
  • Gunga - A larger Berimbau.
  • Iuna - Slow elegant music played by students.
  • Ladainha - It means litany and it is sang by a leader before the game starts.
  • Lutar - Fighting.
  • Macaco - A Capoeira move.
  • Macaquinho - Another Capoeira move.
  • Malandragem - Cunning or shifty.
  • Malandro - Someone who is streetwise.
  • Malicia - Deceptive.
  • Mandigueiro - A healer.
  • Martelo - A very strong kick.
  • Meia Lua De Compasso - A quick spinning kick.
  • Meia Lua De Frente - A front facing spinning kick.
  • Mestre - The highest level a Capoeirist can reach.
  • Moeda - A coin.
  • Morena - A tanned skinned lady.
  • Morrer - Death.
  • Mortal - An acrobatic move.
  • Navalha - A large razor used for shaving or cutting hair.
  • Negativa - A low guarding move that you outstretch your leg with.
  • Onca - A Jaquar.
  • Pandeiro - A drum that is famous in Brazil.
  • Parafuso - A fast spin kick which the person jumps into the air when doing it.
  • Passada - Means your foot work whilst doing Capoeira.
  • Pastinha - Another famous Capoeirist. Mestre Pastinha.
  • Pe - Your foot.
  • Pe Do Berimbau - The front of the Berimbau.
  • Peixe - A fish.
  • Pesado - Heavy.
  • Piao - Headspin.
  • Piao De Mao - A spin where the Capoeirist only uses one arm to balance on.
  • Pisao - A long straight kick in Capoeira.
  • Pisar - A step.
  • Pontiera - A powerful straight kick.
  • Puxar - Pull.
  • Quadras - A form of song which is more prominent in Capoeira Regional.
  • Quando - When.
  • Que - What.
  • Queda - To stumble.
  • Queda De Rins - A Capoeira move where you put your face and hands on the ground to balance your body.
  • Quexada - A backward spinning kick.
  • Quilombo - The name given to fugitive slave communities.
  • Rabo De Arraia - A double step to the side into a spinning kick.
  • Rasteira - A low spinning sweep move.
  • Rasteria PM E - Same as the Rasteria move but without using hands.
  • Reco – A tool used to scrape bamboo.
  • Regional - The version of Capoeira created by Mestre Bimba.
  • Relogio - It means to spin on one hand.
  • Roda - This is the circle of people that form around the Capoeirists when the game is played.
  • Role - A low spin where you put your hands and feet on the ground during.
  • S Dobrado - A low sweep that flows into the player doing a back flip whilst using there hands.
  • Sabedoria - To have knowledge.
  • Saida - To exit.
  • Salvador - This is a city in Bahia, Brazil.
  • Samba - Famous Brazilian dance.
  • Santo - A saint.
  • Senzala - Name of a Capoeira group.
  • Sinal - A sign.
  • Ter - Have.
  • Terra - Land.
  • Tesoura - This is a scissor sweep that you use both legs with.
  • Tocar - Playing music.
  • Vadiar - Up to no good.
  • Verga - The main wooden part of the Berimbau. Usually made of Biriba wood.
  • Viola - A very high pitched Berimbau.
  • Volta Ao Munto - It means around the world and it is when the players circle each other to get a break.
  • Zumbi - Well known leader of the Brazilian Slave settlement, the Quilombos.


  1. Capoeira terminology kindly provided by Brazilian MartialArts,, Added - 10/17/2014

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