Engolo or ngolo is a martial ritual performed by different ethnic groups inhabiting the area around River Cunene in Southern Angola. The art is known as the mother of the Brazilian capoeira.Techniques used are mainly kicks and punches (Martialask, s.d.). Especially the footwork is notable. The art makes use of inverted, circular and push kicks. Those kicks are not to be blocked but avoided to get fluid movements (Desch-Obi 2008: 206). Kicks are for defense, acrobatic movements are used for attacks (Desch-Obi 2008: 2). It is common to see Engolo practitioners on their both hands, kicking with their feet while upside down. This symbolizes the ancestors who live in an inverted world (Desch-Obi 2008: 4).For practitioners engolo is a way of connecting with the ancestors. Desch-Obi states that African martial arts often reflect specific worldviews and philosophies. In engolo’s case it is closely linked to kalunga, a paradigm identifying aspects of both the natural world and the supernatural world (Desch-Obi 2008: 3-4).
Engolo originated in ancient Angola (Desch-Obi 2008: 3).Engolo was a way to get recognition in the tribe as well as the attention from potential marriage partners. It was also used as a form of entertainment, practiced on music. Conflict solution and battle field training were also common purposes (Desch-Obi 2008: 11-12).It had a significant influence on martial art traditions in the Americas, especially capoeira (Desch-Obi 2008: 3; Martialask, s.d.).
There are no official schools, the art is naturally passed on within the tribes in Southern Angola.
- Desch-Obi, T.J. (2008). Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press. - Martialask. (s.d.). “Engolo – Angola”, Martialask. https://martialask.com/engolo-angola/