Capoeira (pronounced ka-poo-ay-da) is a martial art developed in Brazil by enslaved Africans.   It is a communal game in which two opponents play each other inside a circle, formed by the other players who create rhythm for the game by clapping, singing and playing traditional instruments.  The two “capoeiristas” play a game together using capoeira movements, camouflaging self-defense kicks with playful acrobatics and dance-like moves, spontaneously creating a strategy to fool the other player and perhaps catch them off guard.  At the same time, the two players work together to build a beautiful, harmonic and naturally-flowing game.

The modern art form of capoeira is believed to date back to the 1500’s, when many Africans were taken from different areas of West Africa and brought to Brazil to be used as slaves by the Portuguese.  Because slaves were not allowed to practice martial arts, the development and practice of the art had to be disguised.  The result was capoeira: a way of practicing different defensive and offensive techniques with music, singing, and dance.



After the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888, capoeira was prohibited and its practitioners were socially ostracized for over forty years.  The legendary capoeira master, Mestre Bimba, rescued the art form and proved its legitimacy, opening capoeira’s first official school in Bahia, Brazil in 1932.



Mestre Bimba was born Manuel dos Reis Machado in 1900.  At the age of twelve, Bimba was taught capoeira by an African ship captain named Bentinho.  Although capoeira remained illegal for decades, Bimba continued to practice and organize performances of capoeira, keeping the art alive.  After performances for the governor of Bahia and the President of Brazil, Mestre Bimba was given permission to open a recognized, legal school of capoeira.  In the ensuing years, Mestre Bimba codified what he called the “regional fight from Bahia,” with the goal of bringing capoeira to the middle and upper classes.  He ensured his students wore clean, white uniforms and performed well in school, and gave them colored scarves to show rank, a system adopted after the Eastern martial arts’ colored belts.

Mestre Bimba almost single-handedly changed public perception of capoeira from a lowly-regarded street fight of ruffians to a respected martial art form with new moves, an emphasis on athleticism, and – another important first for capoeira – a rigorous and planned teaching method.




Mestre Camisa, born José Tadeu Cardoso, is the founder of ABADÁ-Capoeira.  He began training with Mestre Bimba at a very young age.  He subsequently began teaching capoeira in Rio de Janeiro based on the teachings of Mestre Bimba, until his style became truly unique – widely known and respected for skillfulness, technicality, innovation, and dedication to traditions.   In 1988, Mestre Camisa formed ABADÁ-Capoeira.  In Portuguese, the ABADÁ acronym stands for Associação Brasileira de Apoio e Desenvolvimento da Arte-Capoeira.  In English, this is translated as “The Brazilian Association for the Support and Development of the Art of Capoeira.”  Mestre Camisa has had immense impact on modern Capoeira, bringing it from the old masters in Brazil to an evolving art spreading throughout the world.  Capoeira is now an internationally-respected art of grace and strength known for its unique combination of ritual, self-defense, acrobatics and music in a rhythmic dialogue of the body, mind, and spirit.



Mestra Márcia “Cigarra”, born Márcia Treidler, is the founder of ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco (“ACSF”).  In 1982, Mestra Cigarra began studying capoeira under Mestre Camisa in Rio de Janeiro, successfully developing into Mestre Camisa’s top female student.  There she was given her capoeira nickname of “Cigarra,” or “Dragonfly” in Portuguese.  In 1987, she began to conduct classes for street children, youth, and adults in Rio de Janeiro.  In 1991, Mestra Cigarra moved to the United States to teach capoeira here.  In 1997, she was granted permanent residency in the United States as an “Alien with Extraordinary Abilities.”  That same year, Mestra Cigarra founded the ACSF Brazilian Arts Center in San Francisco.

Mestra Cigarra is one of the top seven capoeiristas out of over 40,000 international ABADÁ-Capoeira members.  She is the first female student of Mestre Camisa to be awarded the rank “Mestra.”  Over the years, she has garnered many honors and international recognition for her work with ACSF.  Because capoeira was a male-dominated martial art form for over 300 years, Mestra Cigarra’s achievements have cleared the path for other women to excel.  Her outstanding achievements make her a highly sought-after teacher, an inspirational leader, and an important role model.  Today, Mestra Márcia continues to oversee and direct all ACSF performance and instructional programs.  She also continues to teach internationally across the globe, while remaining as lead instructor for all ACSF adult and teen capoeira classes.

Graduation System 


Youth Graduation System
(3 to 16 years old)

Important note: The youth’s graduation system was recently reformed to better serve the progress of the little ones, now starting capoeira even younger. This is the new system that will allow them to progress normally and at the same time will give them time to mature until they can become graduados.

Crua (Natural)

Crua com uma ponta amarela (Natural with one Yellow tassel) – 3 years old
Crua com pontas amarelas (Natural with Yellow tassel) – 4 years old
Crua com pontas amarela-laranja (Natural with Yellow-orange tassel) – 5 years old
Crua com pontas amarela-laranja (Natural with Yellow-orange tassel) – 5 years old
Crua com pontas laranja-azuil (natural with Orange-blue tassel) – 7 years old
Crua com pontas azuis (natural with Blue tassel) – 8 years old
Crua-amarela (Natural-yellow) – First transition – at least 9 years old
Amarela (Yellow), “The Gold” –  signifies the value of the apprenticeship to be developed – at least 10 years old
Crua-laranja (Natural-orange) – Transition – at least 11 years old
Amarela-laranja (Yellow-orange) – Transition – at least 12 years old
Laranja (Orange), “The “Sun” – signifies the awakening of the consciousness of the apprenticeship – at least 13 years old
Crua-azul (Natural-blue) – Transition – at least 14 years old
Amarela-azul (Yellow-blue) – Transition – at least 15 years old
Laranja-azul (Orange-blue) – Transition – at least 16 years old

After a student reaches the level of Orange-blue, he/she will can only receive the Blue Cord (Graduated Student level), when he/she turns 17 years old, and after that the student will follow the adults graduation system.

Adult Graduation System


Crua (Natural)


Natural-yellow – First transition

Yellow – “The Gold” –  signifies the value of the apprenticeship to be developed
Yellow-orange – Transition

Orange – “The “Sun” – signifies the awakening of the consciousness of the apprenticeship
Orange-blue – Transition

Blue – “The “Sea” – signifies the consciousness of the immensity of the path that is ahead
Blue-green – Transition
Green – “The “Forest” – signifies the lungs of the world. It is in this graduation that the strength of the work is concentrated, as is the solidification of the apprenticeship. In this graduation lies the foundation of the future of Abadá-capoeira
Green-purple – Transition

Purple – “The Amethyst”- This is the reflection of the continuity of Capoeira. In this graduation one works to overcome physical, psychological, and spiritual pains in the search for knowledge of Capoeira and the defense of Abadá-capoeira’s ideals
Purple-Brown – Transition

Brown – “The “Chameleon” – At this level the Capoeirista has assimilated the style of the group. From this graduation comes future Mestrandos, Masters, and Grand Masters

Brown-red – Transition

Red – “The “Ruby” –  is the stone that symbolizes justice. It is this graduation in which the Capoeirista acquires responsibility towards Capoeira and tries to conduct their work and make decisions with justice.

Red-white – In this graduation the Capoeirista tries to develop their potential in order to concentrate and maintain Abada-capoeira’s ideals. It is a phase of transformation, because the Mestre is preparing to obtain the highest graduation in Abada-capoeira’s system.
White – “The “Diamond” – The “Diamond” is the hardest and most resilient mineral. It reflects all colors and all colors are united in white. The only person who holds this title in Abada-Capoeira is Mestre Camisa, President and founder of Abada-Capoeira.  At this level of Mestre, it is necessary to make decisions with precision, honesty and, above all, wisdom and impartiality.  It is through wisdom, patience, humility, loyalty and firm beliefs that the Mestre can maintain the organization’s philosophy, tradition, and principles.


This title in Abada-Capoeira was held by Grão Mestre Camisa Roxa, a first-generation Formado of the famous Mestre Bimba, the founder and creator of Capoeira Regional da Bahia. Grão Mestre Camisa Roxa worked to support the ideal of Abada-Capoeira. He remains as Abada-Capoeira Grão Mestre ‘in memorian’.


Grão Mestre Camisa Roxa (in memorian)

Mestre Camisa
Mestre Nagô
Mestre Cobra
Mestre Morcego
Mestre Charm
Mestre Márcia Cigarra
Mestra Edna
Mestre Canguru

Mestrando Peixe-Cru
Mestrando Pernilongo
Mestrando Apache
Mestrando Paulinho Velho
Mestrando Piriquito Verde
Mestrando Montanha
Mestrando Cascão
Mestrando Bode
Mestrando Sabiá
Mestrando Tigre
Mestrando Eberson