Why are there so few kicks?

With the list of old Carioca techniques almost completed, some people might be surprised by the relatively low number of 'real' kicks.

Capoeira is described today as a kicking art; yet, this certainly does not corelate with the way Carioca is described!

Let us skip bizzare kicks (acrokicks), such as Pantana, Mldc or Voo do morçego:

Moraes Filho(1901) lists Pe de panzina and Escorao.

Burlamaqui(1928) described Jawkick and Escorao.

Other authors descripe Pontape.

Certainly, the number of kicks used by capoeiras never seem to exceed two; usually the most plain front kicks.

Compare it with the number of takedowns or headbutts: Old Carioca was clearly not a kicking art.


There are probably several reasons for that:

The effectiveness of plain kick in street fighting is pretty low; especially if we talk about modern kicks, executed without LightLegs. I would certainly never teach a kick for self defence without LightLegs; and it seems neither would old Carioca masters.

Kicks such as martelo, queixada, escorao(sidekick),esporao(rotating sidekick) cannot be executed with LightLegs; so it is pretty clear why we never see anything like them in old capoeiragem.

Kicks taught in old capoeiragem - including old Bahian capoeiragem - are always only the ones that can be done with LightLegs.

Meia lua de frente and Armada can be done using LightLegs (and were used that way in old Bahian capoeira).

However, they cannot be executed from Peneiracao. To be effective, LightLegs Mldf and Armada needs to be thrown in a special way from ginga (see my article about that).

That is why these two kicks were not used in Carioca.

The tactics of Carioca, especially the higher level ones, did not depend on kicks that much. They were much more entwined with cabecadas and takedowns.

Do not imagine old capoeiras jumping around and throwing their legs in the air like two kickboxers (or, indeed, like modern capoeirista), trying to hit each other with their feet.

As I wrote in some of my old articles, capoeiragem is wrestling!

4)Excursus: Kicks and knives

The final reasons is so important I want to write some more of it.

During a normal kick, as you lift your leg in the air, it is quite easy for the opponent to cut your leg with a knife at the same time. The moment your foot connects with his torso, he can cut your exposed inner thigh, severing the femoral artery, probably making you bleed out pretty quickly.

This will happen pretty easily with all your nice, modern capoeira non-LightLegs kicks - mldf, queixada, martelo, sidekick, esporao, bencao. You are going to bleed.

In fact, it will probably also happen even with LightLegs Armada and Mldf - the way they were done in old Bahian capoeira.

The only kicks that are - at least to some extent - knife-proof are the kicks of old Carioca: Pe de panzina, Escorao, Pontape, Jawkick.

If you do them properly with LightLegs, the moment they connect, they will lock opponent's arms to the sides (Nerve binding; this is the same effect as proper cabeçadas); so he cannot cut you with the knife as you kick him.

But this effect is only present in these four kicks, and only if you do them properly with LightLegs.


So this is probably another important reason you do not see any of the modern kicks in Carioca: Because Carioca was knife-aware. Only the knife-proof kicks were used.

BTW: This is another demonstration of how 'primitive Carioca' was a sophisticated combat system; while modern capoeira is just throwing the legs in the air.


Note: Old Bahian Bençao, done using LightLegs (and Nemer wind-up, preferably) is also knife-proof.


















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