Young Readers Book Review of Capoeira Martial Arts In Action

by DerdriuMarriner

"Capoeira Martial Arts In Action" introduces young readers to acrobatic, clapping, dancing, game and music-playing martial artists in African Brazilian society.

Capoeira appeals to all ages, cultures, genders, and races.

It brings acrobatics, dance, and game-playing into a lively, noisy, non-violent form of martial arts.

Johannah Haney highlights these uniquely jack-of-all-trades and melting-pot aspects in her "Capoeira" contribution to Marshall Cavendish Benchmark’s nine-book series on Martial Arts in Action.

capoeira air time outside of Brazil

Enschede, Overijssel Province, eastern Netherlands
Enschede, Overijssel Province, eastern Netherlands


Capoeira (Martial Arts in Action) is a clearly written and richly photographed book for young readers aged 9+, in the fourth grade and up.

Enthusiasts describe capoeira as an eminently artistic, healthy, user-friendly martial art. Capoeira includes as many people as it takes to form a circle along which participants move comfortably in place and within which two practitioners interact comfortably. It involves jogistas (jogo, “game” + -istas “players”) cartwheeling, crouching, kicking, and spinning without harming or touching one another. It involves rodistas (roda “circle” + -istas “players”) clapping, playing instruments, and singing in the call-response style. It is as exciting as games, invigorating as acrobatics, and synchronized as dances.


Brief introductions to and quick reviews of all the above are afforded by Capoeira, written by Johannah Haney and published by Marshall Cavendish Benchmark in 2012. The book forms part of the publisher’s Martial Arts in Action series. Other titles include:

  • Aikido (2012) by Ruth Bjorklund;
  • Judo and Jujitsu (2012), Kendo (2011), and Wrestling (2012) by Carol Ellis; 
  • Karate (2010) by Terry Allan Hicks; 
  • Kickboxing (2012) by Gail Mack;
  • Kung Fu (2011) by Henry Wouk; and 
  • Tae Kwon Do (2012) by Anna Haney-Withrow (2012).


The book divides into four chapters. Chapter 1 identifies typical capoeiristas (capoeira + -istas “players”) as people of all ages, genders, races and sizes. The reason for capoeira’s universality is offered in Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 considers capoeira’s history. Capoeira dates back to sixteenth-century Brazil’s African slave dances. Additionally, capoeira draws upon the African traditional dance N’golo (“dance of the zebras”). N’golo honors a young girl’s passage into womanhood.

Nowadays, capoeira can be precise, slow, tradition-bound capoeira Angola taught by Mestre Vincente Ferreira Pastinha (1889-1981) at Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola in Salvador, Bahia, northeast Brazil. Or it is acrobatic, batuque–influenced (“sudden attack”) capoeira regional taught by Mestre Bimba (Manuel dos Reis Machado, 1899-1974) at Academia-escola de Cultura Regional in Salvador. Or it may be hybrid capoeira contemporânea

Chapter 3 explains capoeira levels and movements. Levels include:

  • aluno (“student”);
  • graduado (“graduate”);
  • formado (“formed”);
  • professor (“teacher”); and
  • mestre (“master”).

Movement involves four basic poses:

  • cartwheel ();
  • crouching (ginga);
  • dodging (esquivanegativa);
  • spinning (rolê).

Chapter 4 enumerates capoeira benefits. Practitioners learn the discipline of a physical skill. Physical competence raises practitioner self-esteem and self-respect. Competent, confident practitioners realize the importance of smooth teamwork.


Capoeira is a wonderfully informative book which readers of all ages will keep on their bookshelves, for an introduction to or review of African Brazil’s martial art.


capoeira movements

Usina do Gasômetro, Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, southeastern Brazil
Usina do Gasômetro, Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, southeastern Brazil



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Image Credits


Enschede, Overijssel Province, eastern Netherlands: Archangel12, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons @

Usina do Gasômetro, Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, southeastern Brazil: Eugenio Hansen, OFS, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ômetro_01.JPG


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Capoeira (Martial Arts in Action) by Johannah Haney

Capoeira (Martial Arts in Action)

The Little Capoeira Book, Revised Edition, by Nestor Capoeira

Includes how-to guide with photographs to show basic moves for beginners. Drawings depict techniques. Presents versions in both capoeira branches (Angola, Regional).
The Little Capoeira Book, Revised Edition

A Street-Smart Song: Capoeira Philosophy and Inner Life by Nestor Capoeira

Includes historical photos; sketches of weapons and instruments; and fully illustrated, step-by-step fighting movements.
A Street-Smart Song: Capoeira Philosophy and Inner Life

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 04/04/2024, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 11/18/2014

brazilian martial arts, Yes, capoeira is impressive and needs to become more widely known. Perhaps the combination of world soccer hosting in 2014 and of world olympics in 2016 will help change things.
Me too, I agree that the health benefits for all ages are a number 1 reason for learning and practicing capoeira. A capoeira performance additionally is such a win-win situation for participants and viewers.
Respectfully, and with many thanks for already knowing about capoeira and advancing its familiarity to and practice by more and more children and adults.

brazilian martial arts on 11/17/2014

Capoeira is amazing and is so under valued. The health benefits for kids and adults alone should be enough to peak peoples interest.

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