This is Capoeira, a form of dance-fighting from Brazil. The story goes that when slaves were brought from Africa to Brazil, they were not allowed to practice fighting techniques. So they incorporated fighting movements into dance. Yesterday’s picture shows a dancer-fighter facing her opponent just before getting started. The rest of the group played instruments and chanted. The whole effect was beautiful and fascinating.
I assume that Capoeira has been brought to Japan by Brazilian Japanese. You may not be aware, but many people of Japanese descent have been returning to Japan in recent years from Brazil (where their parents and grandparents immigrated a long time ago). They bring an exciting and needed cultural infusion, I think. On another note, many don’t speak Japanese well, and they haven’t graduated from a Japanese university, or at least not from one of the “right” ones. So they are treated like other immigrants from “lesser” countries (i.e., many end up working in factories).
For more about Capoeira you can read [here](http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/07/10/CC7280.DTL)
(see the excerpt below).
>Capoeira is unusual in that it’s a group sport played to music, the barefooted, white-garbed participants sitting in a roda, or circle. Before a jogo, or bout, begins, the opponents squat down opposite each other and shake hands. “The roda is a metaphor for life,” Almeida said. “A place where you have to face your fears and insecurities, where you may be embarrassed and look foolish. The good thing about it is you learn to hold your ground, to take up a challenge, to move in rhythm.” Almeida and Martinho play the berimbau, a one-string bow with a gourd attached that is strummed with a strip of bamboo. Soon their strongly rhythmic beat was picked up by students playing conga drums, tambourines, rattles, even a cowbell. “Ai yi yi,” they chanted in the bingbangbong beat of the maculele, a style of music associated with sugar plantation workers.