Exploring Brazilian Capoeira and its connections to Chinese Tai Chi

Capoeira is a martial art-infused dance originated in 16th-century Brazil. This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage art form is being practiced in 160 countries worldwide – including China.

In 2019 UNESCO nominated Capoeira as a World Cultural Heritage, and produced a short film looking at its similarities to Tai Chi in the way they are both based on yielding and redirecting an attack.

Davi Garritano, a Tai Chi master in Rio de Janeiro who practices Yang Style Tai Chi says the most significant similarity between Capoeira and Tai Chi is the flowing motion between how we connect the techniques.

“According to the Chinese philosophy we have this principle that everything is always changing, always moving. Dealing with the opponent, we are always changing the motions, the movements, attack and defence, up and down, forward and back.” Davi said.

Tai Chi has a 4,000-year history. It is a martial art with a carefully constructed system of movement and breathing, it connects us with our emotions, instincts and vital energy.

Tai Chi has become very popular in Brazil, with some 250,000 practitioners and there is a national magazine dedicated to the art.

Davi Garritano explains why the martial art is so attractive to Brazilians. “It can go from physical benefits like balance, strengthening your body, flexibility not only on your limbs but also on your spine. And even psychological benefits like focus and clarity so that you can deal with stress in the big cities.”

Luis Felipe is a communications operator who practices Tai Chi philosophy daily. He said this helped him to find the right moment to advance, the moment to retreat, and to respect others.

Katarina Ferraina, a psychologist in Rio de Janeiro says it’s a tool for self-knowledge and gives one the opportunity to explore internally in a more profound way.

For Brazilians from a culture that is only 500 years old, Tai Chi provides a pathway into the rich 5,000-year-old culture of China.

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