Calcanheira is one of the more bizzare kicks of the old Bahian capoeiragem. It look like a backhandspring, but with added horizontal rotation.


How is it done:

You start facing the opponent, left leg in the rear; equip LightLegs, make a step with your right foot towards your left foot and turn leftward.

The LightLegs automatically make you turn leftward, your right foot stands besides the left, so you turn your back to the opponent, feet together, arms down, arched back, ready for a backhandspring. This is a high-energy point("Hiii!") (note that this sound is made on the inhalation, unlike to common ones which are done with exhalation.).

Swing your arms, jump into the backhandspring across the opponent. At the same time, rotate horizontally to the left, reaching with your left arm. This is a high-energy point("Khhhhh!"). While in the air,  press your feet together.

However, instead of common backhandspring, close your legs to your body; this makes it more like a backflip, giving the kick its power  and it also gives it the characteristic shape. This is a high-energy point; shout "Haaaa!" as you kick.

Both your legs swing in a big oblique arc, hitting the opponent from above; at the same time, your hands land on the ground.

This applies a nerve strangle to the opponent; kicks him hard; and throws him on the ground.


Done solo, you land on your hands and feet almost together.


Most important part of the kick is the horizontal rotation; it gives you extra air time so you can close your legs.


The vocalization for the whole kick is "HiiKchhhhHaaa!"


Calcanheira is a counter; it is done from the rear position of  ginga; by spinning like in Meia lua de compasso.



However, there is one even better entering method!

The entering movement, done with a vocalization("Hiii!"), hides a little secret; it is a hold breaker! If the opponent grabs a hold of you, you can do the first movement of the Calcanheira, with the vocalization; this creates a nerve strangle in the opponent, so he gets dizzy and weak, and you tear yourself out of his grasp. Then immediately, you kick him with Calcanheira.

(He must hold you tight for the nerve strangle to work with maximum power).

This is what the Creole used when mestre Bimba grabbed him with Cabecada presa! (See below). (Although he probably used it without the vocalization; this only results in a nerve disruption).

(Note: If the opponent has LightLegs equiped as he grabs you, instead of a nerve strangle, again, only nerve disruption is applied).




-Calcanheira is one of the technique that cannot be done without LightLegs; without LightLegs, it is only a normal backhandspring.

-The complete mechanics for the technique is thus Eagle+Seduction1+LightLegs

-This kick was used in the jogo between Mestre Bimba and 'Creole'('Os negros lutam suas lutas misteriosas;Bimba é o grande rei negro do misterioso rito africano' by Ramagem Badaró(1944)):

Bimba attacked with a Cabecada presa; Creole broke his grip and counterattacked with Calcaneira; and Bimba evades using a Mortal.

This is another thing worthy of analysis. As noted above, Creole did Calcanheira without vocalization; if he used it, Bimba would be stunned by the nerve strangle and would have been hit. Instead, Bimba only got nerve disrupted. Still, the nerve disruption was enough to nail him to the spot and prevent him from stepping back!

So he had to evade either by dropping low - or by jumping away using a backflip. However, this coudln't have been a normal backflip; as it cannot be done when nerve disrupted. Instead, Bimba must have used a true Mortal, Monkey+LightLegs backflip (I will described it in a separate article); only then he could evade like this.

This shows the incredible richness of the original, proper capoeira: A grab; a kick that creates a nerve disruption against a grab; and a special type of backflip that works even in the case of nerve disruption. All that is gone in modern capoeira.


-In Angola, the kick was probably also used and called 'Meia lua alta' (

-In the article 'Mestre Bimba, Capoeira Champion, Challenges All Bahian Fighters (1936)', Bimba lists Calcanheira as one of the kicks he learned from his master, Bentinho

-This is Calcanheira - on a photographs from around 1970's.


-One more thing: Why is this kick called Calcanheira(calcanhar means 'heel' in portuguese), when it is not done with the heel? That is because calcanheira, at that time, also meant a shoetree - the tool used by cobblers to repair shoes. And if you look at the old shoetree, you will see that its shape is really reminiscent of the shape of this kick...



-There existed another variant of this kick in the 70's where, instead of Eagle+Seduction1+LightLegs, you used Monkey+LightLegs to make the kick more like a backflip, striking with your knees.(High-energy points; when jumping:"Hiii!", when rotating "Haaa!").

As a kick, this version of Calcanheira is worthless; as it lacks the proper penetrating power. Do not use it.

For details, see my article on Mortal in Bahian capoeira.



















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