Who We Are


Brief History of Capoeira

Capoeira Pintura

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 aroda (circle) by two capoeiristas who exchange a spontaneous combination of kicks, offensive moves, acrobatics and floor movements. While the capoeiristas in the center of the roda (circle) 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 atabaquepandeiro, agogô and reco-reco 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.


Raízes do Brasil groups throughout the world thrive with the guidance and support of Mestre Ralil, who founded Centro Cultural de Capoeira Raízes do Brasil in Brasília, Brazil in 1980.

Professor Curu

Professor Curu

Professor Curu began training Capoeira in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, at the age of 11. As a student of Mestre Ralil of Centro Cultural Capoeira Raízes do Brasil,  he began teaching Capoeira both at the Raízes do Brasil Capoeira Headquarters and at a local elementary school. Professor Curu enjoyed traveling around Brazil  and US to play & exchange in the art of Capoeira. In February 2011 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and continued his Capoeira training at Raízes do Brasil Capoeira.

In October 2011, Professor Curu opened the Raizes do Brasil Capoeira academy at a new location and he continues to work hard to keep the spirit and camaraderie.

Professor Curu & Raizes do Brasil Capoeira offer classes six days a week for children and adults. In the warmer months he holds classes and rodas outdoors in Prospect Park, The Old Stone House (Washington Park/JJ Byrne Playground – 3rd St. @ 4th and5th Ave), on the rooftop of the academy, and around the neighborhood, keeping strong ties to our community.

Professor Curu’s greatest satisfaction comes from watching his students evolve and seeing their dedication to learning Capoeira.


Mestre Ralil

ralilMestre Ralil was born in 1960 in Brasília, Brasil where he continues to live today. He began learning capoeira in 1973 with Mestre Helio Tabosa. Since 1979, Mestre Ralil has spread the tradition of Brazilian culture and capoeira by teaching its practitioners to utilize the art form as a tool to better their lives.

In 1980, Mestre Ralil founded Centro Cultural de Capoeira Raízes do Brasil, headquartered in Brasília, with the goal to empower the city’s under-represented children, adolescents and adults. Despite facing incredible socio-economic odds, many of Mestre Ralil’s students have employed the lessons of capoeira to overcome challenges outside of the roda and now thrive as active and visible leaders in their families and communities. In addition to his work at the Centro Cultural, Mestre Ralil often participates in social outreach projects in partnership with the city, state and federal governments. Together with his students, he has performed for each of Brazil’s last three presidents: Fernando Collor de Mello, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.