Batuque - and shuai jiao

See the following video from a village 'shuai jiao'(Chinese wrestling) tournament.

What do you see? I see capoeiragem; I see batuque.

Of course, this might be puzzling to people who are used to associate capoeira with Bahian folk music, sunshine,sommersaults, and clowning around.

But really, if you want to see how the old capoeiragem/batuque looked like, this, to me, is closest you can get.

All the essential signs are there: Two players in a circle of spectators; the quick footwork and moving around; tricking, feeling the opponent around; and finally, the spectacular throw. They even do 'volta no mundo'! And last but not least, the intent; the tight intent on capturing and throwing the opponent.

This is pure batuque; pure capoeiragem. It is also antithesis of what modern capoeira feels like. This is why it is vital to try to absorb the mood of the 'village wrestling' if you want to understand what the wild batuque or capoeiragem was like. If you cannot train with us, that is!

Capoeiragem(batuque) is wrestling, camara!

This one
even has music accompanying it ;-)


It is written that "Shuai Jiao was a favourite entertainment in Beijing. To this day people still enjoy a good throw. At one point in time, there used to be matches like this in every neighborhood." Need I say Bahia? Rio de Janeiro?

Almost every nation had a wrestling style that was played by people for fun. Mongolians, Chinese, Okinawans,Korean,Russian, English... People enjoyed throwing each other to the ground. But for some reason, capoeiragem (and similar Brazilian diversions such as batuque and pernada) started to be known as 'dances'. Why, I wonder? You can read that people were getting thrown, and that was the goal. You need to be quite dense to still consider game with such characteristic a dance. It only masks batuque's/capoeiragem's true nature - that of another folk wrestling style.

Ok, you say, perhaps batuque(pernada) was a wrestling style. But capoeiragem?

Let us read the part from 'Joao de Rio'(1908), where one capoeira explains to him the game of capoeiragem:

"I bend down, grab you by the legs and turn over. You turn into balao(body throw)...

If I fall I am a klutz. If I launch tesoura(leg scissors) I am a pig, because tesoura is not used anymore. But I can throw you with tarafa.

Tarafa is a rasteira(leg sweep) done with force.....Rasteira can also be done in the air, to beat in the face of the player...."

Now consider this is not a layman describing what he sees; this is a capoeiragem expert describing his trade to an outsider. Therefore, he would hardly waste time with accidents; he describes what he considers the essence of capoeiragem.

And what do we see?

- grabbing opponent by the legs and turning him over

- balao(body throw)

- falling is considered a foul

- tesoura(leg scissor throw)

- tarafa(leg sweeping throw)

- at the end, he mentions kick in the face(meia lua) and in the belly (arara?).

Except the two kicks, these are all wrestling maneuvers! And even the meia lua is described as 'leg sweep to the face', which is very telling. I rest my case....