Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art as well as a cultural experience. Capoeira was created by African slaves in Brazil as a form of self-defense and cultural preservation against the oppressive slave owners. It is played in a roda (circle) by two capoeiristas who exchange a spontaneous combination of kicks, offensive moves, acrobatics and floor maneuvers. While the capoeiristas in the center of the roda engage in a dynamic and intriguing conversation, others forming the roda sing in chorus and clap to the rhythm played on the berimbau, the stringed bow-like instrument that leads the roda. The atabaque, pandeiro and agogo accompany the berimbau.
Capoeira was illegal for many years until Manuel dos Reis Machado, better known as Mestre Bimba, succeeded in gaining legality for the art and opened the first capoeira academy in Salvador, in the state of Bahia. Today, there are numerous capoeira schools throughout Brazil, many of which have branches in various countries worldwide.