Corda (Graduation) system

A mark of Capoeira Regional, the capoeira corda is a symbol of rank and dedication to capoeira, and it is a source of pride for any capoeirista. The corda, or cord, is worn about the waist on white abadás. Different capoeira groups will have different cord systems. It's important for a capoeira student to become familiar with the cord system, particularly which cordas are of graduated level.

Why is there a ranking system?

Years ago, capoeira was chaotic and fragmented. Students learned as disciples of a capoeira master who could only teach if both parties could find the right time and space to do so. After Mestre Bimba worked to legalize capoeira in the 1940s, he developed a pedagogical system to teach capoeira more efficiently. The explosion of capoeira across the world, aside from the beat of its own drum, has to be in large part due to this work that Mestre Bimba did. Along with a formalized system of instruction, Mestre Bimba developed a simple ranking system to help his students develop faster. The corda is a form of motivation, as a recognition of achievement. One of Mestre Bimba's rule was, "Protect the opponent's physical and moral integrity (during the practice, the stronger will protect the weaker player)." The easiest way to separate stronger capoeira players from weaker is through the corda system.

What does your corda mean?

Ultimately, you define the value of your own corda, but there are a few things to keep in mind. In a sense, the corda in itself has no value. Cordas can't do capoeira movements, play capoeira instruments, or sing capoeira songs. They are just trinkets.

Hoever, no serious capoeira teacher, in any group, will issuescordas to his or her students haphazardly. It's a symbol of the hard work, dedication, and commitment that a student has demonstrated over time. In this sense, the corda is the most precious compliment that your capoeira teacher can pay you. Treasure your corda and wear it proudly to class and rodas.

Every capoeira group is different. Differences can range from anything as a different logo or a different corda system to different ways to enter the roda. Even these subtle differences can make it challenging to be respectful as you visit various groups. Always remember to familiarize yourself with another group's fundamentals if you are a visitor or guest.

In many ways, the differences in fundamentals is what makes one group different from another. And the diversity of groups is one aspect of capoeira that keeps it interesting and engaging. Not everyone does it the same. This is one of the reasons capoeira is an evolving art.