Capoeira Offers Students a Social Mix to Dance and Defense

Dance parties are a source of entertainment and socializing. However, many students at Florida A&M University are learning a different sort of dance that has its roots grounded in needs that are more primal—self defense. 

Capoeira is a martial art form. It provides a rich history, diversity and culture. It benefits the body by improving coordination, control and discipline.

According to FAMU Capoeira instructor, Demetrius Harris, the practice was introduced during the African Brazilian slave trade in the seventeenth century as a means for Africans for freedom and defense from captors. 

"Now, it’s not so much about slavery, but about coming together and helping each other as it regards other issues, coming together for a greater good, coming together to the university for education to better ourselves and taking that back home to our families," Harris said.

Batizado teaches new techniques leading into Capoeira competition. Derived from the phrase “baptized in Capoeira,” it is commonly used as an introduction for beginners. In Batizado, students are given cords and nicknames. The changing of cords during Batizado is “troca de corda.” 

Brandon Slayton, a junior physical therapy major and Capoeira beginner, said Capoeira works “all different parts of the body.”

"Capoeira is a mental and physical challenge because in addition to learning the moves, you learn to play the instruments and while watching a performance everyone is singing and you have to play the instrument correctly and to the rhythm of the dance,” Brandon said.

Brandon also enjoys the camaraderie.

“There is something about groups of people doing the same thing,” Brandon said. “I have experienced Tae-kwon Do, Wing Chun and Wrestling. The effect that the music of Capoeira has given a different vibe from that of any other form of martial art." 

Mary Madsen, a pre-veterinarian student, has practiced Capoeira for eight years.

   “Students could greatly benefit from Capoeira because the art requires training about three times a week. One must be serious about training and focused on good health and adequate sleep.”

Classes are offered to students at the Al Lawson Center on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and at the Gazebo near the track on Saturdays at 6 p.m. 

    Students interested in more information on Capoeira can reach out to Tallahassee Capoeira on Facebook or contact FAMU Capoeira Instructor Harris at