Brazilian Martial Arts and Dance at Union Square

Hey, it was a Brazilian sort of time in Manhattan over Labor Day Weekend.

On Saturday, I showed up at Union Square, mostly from boredom and hoped to find something interesting.  Remember, something is always happening in Union Square.  (Maybe that should be a sub-heading for this blog.)

Well, there was a lot of stuff going on in Union Square.  There were tax protestors, artists, farmer markets, crowds, more crowds, and a group of….dancers?  Fighters?  I heard some Carribean-sounding music and went over to see what was going on.  I was confronted with a small circle of people surrounding two men who were fighting in slow motion.

Brazilian martial art

I didn’t know what it was, but it was obviously a friendly demonstration.  All done to music and chants from the surrounding members who would occasionally switch out with one another.

Brazilian martial art 2

The style is actually called “Capoeira” and is reputed to be created by Brazil’s African slaves during the 1800’s and was disguised as a dance to assuage any concern by the slaveholders.  It definitely looked more dance than martial art.  I never saw a fast move or a strong contact between any of the participants.  No grappling holds either.  Just fluid motion that had the appearance of both martial art and dance. 

It was also obvious that the moves were more-or-less spontaneous and not part of a choreographed routine.

If you saw Jackie Chan’s “drunken master” style in one of his movies, it seemed to have that sort of disjointed, but floating movement.  I saw the movie once in the mid-1990s so I don’t know if capoeira really does resemble the style (which, in the movie, was extremely exaggerated), but when I was watching the demonstration, it certainly seemed to have some sort of parallel.

Union Square - Capoeira 5

Brazilian Capoeira 6

The women also participated.  Their movements were definitely more dance-like, but they certainly enjoyed themselves.

Brazilian Capoeira 12

Brazilian Capoeira 10

Sunday was Brazil Day in Manhattan.  I’ll be posting on it soon, but I found this one very interesting and wanted to put it up quickly.  (Oh yeah, I’ll also post on the other happenings in Union Square.  Especially the tax protest.  It was…odd and not what I expected.)

-H 

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