Capoeira and Breakdancing- New York in the 1970s

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Martin S. Ware, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Old school breakdancers (or Bboys as they prefer), who were in the Bronx in the 1970s, have denied that any of their moves were inspired by capoeira. I've always thought that some similarities were striking though. Could it be a coincidence that Mestres Jelon Vieira and Loremil Machado moved to New York in early 1975, and started giving frequent capoeira demonstrations and classes in places like Central Park?

    Loremil died in 1994, and Jelon has usually been quoted as saying just that both arts are African in origin, but are not directly connected. This blog gives a translation of a 2007 interview with Mestre Jelon, though, where he says that he and Loremil DID teach capoeira moves to kids in the Bronx, and they they were "crazy about it." There's also a link in the post to an amazing ten minute capoeira film from 1980.
    Breaking and Capoeira
     
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  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Could have been kung fu as well.

    Which was also pretty big in the 70s.
     
  3. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, but capoeira is much closer to breakdancing in terms of feel and movement than any Kung fu style I’ve seen.
     
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  4. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    yes it very well could be a coincidence, that two groups if people happen on the same thing completly separately to each other happens all the time
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Or even a two-steps-removed situation, where folks learned a few Capoeira moves, taught them to someone else without mentioning the name, who showed them to someone else, and those folks incorporated the moves into break dancing. That could leave no real trace of the connection, even to those at the two ends of the chain.
     
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  6. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    that's indeed possible, but not really required, they are both acrobatic "dancing "in a small area. once you've accepted those constrainsts there only a limited number of things you can do with the body, so there are always !likely to be marked similarity. if you look a equipment free callisthenics, it has a certain similarity to both, copied or original difficult to say, maybe inspired ? acrobatic dancing predate both by several thousand years, so maybe the other way round. maybe the sudden rise if outstanding eastern block gymnasts in the early 70s was a driving factor in break dancing, they certainly inspired a lot of people to understand what their body was capable of
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  7. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Sure, bboys have always mentioned kung fu (Bruce Lee and Shaw Brothers movies), gymnasts, and dancers like the Nicholas Brothers as inspirations. Capoeira seems to be another "ingredient" though. Found this pic on the blogger's FB page.


    . baby vs. queda.JPG
     
  8. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    that's very much a callisthenics/ gymnastic move, its called a frog hold and is used a progression to a plange hold or a hand stand, even I can do those, so it's really not advanced, though waving your legs about whilst doing it is a bit tricky
     
  9. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Interesting! I'm definitely not an expert in gymnastics, but Google seems to show that the frog hold/stand doesn't place the head on the side this way. And the leg waving is a major element of this move in both breaking and capoeira. Pretty similar, though, you're right. frog stand.JPG
     
  10. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    it looks very much like that when I do it, as having your arms fully extended is a !ot harder on the balance requirement and core strengh, try looking for pictures of people wn't are not very good,at it
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
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  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    That particular move from your previous post, qeda de rins, is done sideways, with the ribs on one side resting at the elbow. That distinguishes it from the movement in this post. There are many variants on qeda de rins.
     
  12. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Right! Queda de rins translates as "fall on your kidney," apparently. The Baby Freeze supports the dancer's weight in the same way, though they sometimes use one knee on the forward elbow for additional support. The frog hold/stand appears to use knees on elbows only, not ribs on upper arm.

    I found the video that the Baby Freeze picture above was taken from. It's short and well shot, and shows exactly how the body weight is supported.
     
  13. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    And here's the Queda de rins video! Turns out they're both "Howcast" instructional videos. The capoerista gets into position in the same way as Bboy Kid Glyde.
     
  14. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Welcome to Martial Talk, Martin. :)
     
  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    1928923_1187502521431_2529462_n.jpg
     
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  16. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Nice!! Drop Bear- capoeirista or bboy? Or both?
     
  17. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Capoeira.
    My current coach is an ex B boy.
     
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  18. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If their mentioning all the other stuff as inspiration, why do you think they wouldn't mention capoeira?
     
  19. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Good question. My best guess is that capoeira looks too similar to breakdancing for comfort. People might consider it straight up copying, rather than "sampling." Martial artists and dancers can see the many differences, but to the general public, it's all "dance-fighting in a circle, with lots of spinning, flips and handstands."

    Another reason might be that breakdancing moves inspired by capoeira were the "secret weapons" of only a few very early dancers- the guys who invented the style. Most of the old school breakdancers were really secretive about their personally invented moves. You can't pretend Bruce Lee doesn't exist, but capoeira in 1975 was being taught by only two mestres in the entire United States. They just happened to live in Washington Heights. If you met them, you could probably keep it secret.
     
  20. Martin S. Ware

    Martin S. Ware White Belt

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    Here's another interesting martial arts connection, one that probably is just a coincidence. From the cited blog:

    Jelon Vieira taught capoeira from 1975-1979 at 47 Great Jones Street ... What I've just discovered is that from 1974-1976, Sifu Duncan Leung taught Wing Chun kung fu at 3 Great Jones Street, just a block away. Leung was a disciple of Yip Man, the legendary Wing Chun master, and was introduced to him by his childhood friend, Bruce Lee! Thus, little Great Jones Street, only two blocks long, was an important center of two great martial arts traditions in America for a short time.
     

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