In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portuguese transported African peoples from mainly Angola, on slave ships, known as Tumbeiros, floating tombs, to Brazil.
Portugal was one among competing, sea faring expansionist nations and their new colonial land in South America was fought over by the rival Dutch. This fighting gave many slaves the chance to flee from the costal regions towards the interior through dense forest, where they developed settlements and also an underground for freeing more slaves.
″Capoeira″ can be translated as ″low bush″ referring to the area where these defended settlements called Quilombos were formed. Here a style of combat was developed from a traditional Angolan dance. For a full history of Capoeira, see The Jogo de Angola from Luanda to Cyberspace by Gerard Taylor by North Atlantic Books.
After the official abolition of Slavery in 1888, Capoeira continued to be practised by the new migrant settlers. Successive rulers banned capoeira as subversive; by the 20th century its practise was forced into secret locations. However, its skill, inventiveness and tradition were becoming more widely admired and great masters of the time insured its survival and evolution by opening schools.
Early schools were in the North Eastern region, Bahia, where many people of African descent lived, during the early 20th Century. One respected Master, Mestre Sombra, determined to open a proper school in the south, choosing São Paulo. He opened classes in its Port, Santos. In 1975 he created Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos With its egalitarian motto "At Senzala we are all aspects of the same face".
Today there are over 2000 schools in Sao Paulo and Capoeira is recognised as a national sport. Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos has grown worldwide like a tree. Two of Master Sombra′s graduates Mestra Sylvia Bazzarelli and Mestre Marcos Dos Santos opened the London School of Capoeira Herança in 1987. Capoeira Canal Monitor Jacob Rety graduated under the LSC in 2002.