By Kirkus Reviews
The most playful of the martial arts takes a star turn in this excellent photo essay done by a master of the genre. Capoeira, an intriguing mixture of fighting, dancing and sport, originated in Brazil as African slaves from Angola adapted a form of fighting into a dance to escape the scrutiny of their masters. The history of capoeira is told succinctly in several pages with accompanying map, an antique print and several sepia-ink-and-wash sketches, but it is the vivid photos filled with diverse young people in today’s Brazil and the U.S. that really grip the imagination. The graceful movements of the kids and their teachers (usually quite young themselves) unfold in a cinematic experience that is matched by the explanatory text. Portuguese words and nicknames are used throughout. The music that accompanies this special game is played on the berimbau, a bow-shaped instrument with a gourd attached. The author explains how the music, including drums and other percussive instruments, is used to control the action. For martial-arts fans, armchair travelers and anyone who wants to view a new way of having fun.