The marriage of martial movements and music is often associated with disciplines of African descent, such as those found in Brazil, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, but how about the other parts of the world? Are they bereft of soul? Do they miss that beautiful essence at the heart of Capoeira and its relatives in the cultural soup of the African diaspora???
The short answer is no.
Music is found in other martial arts and often in very interesting ways different from what we see in Capoeira. Music is also at the heart of Indonesian Penchak Silat as well as Korean Taekkyun. Taekkyun was developed in Korea approximately in 25 BC. Though it fell out of favor approximately 600 years ago (for Tae Kwon Do), it's making a comeback in recent years. What's interesting to note is that it was originally practiced among the royalty and upper classes (yangban). It wasn't really practiced among the commoners.
Maybe that's the key to Capoeira's success - its link the continual struggle against oppression...
I have also read that capoeira was the only martial art that was not developed to protect an artistocracy/ ruling class. Can anyone confirm or negate this? It is a pretty powerful reflection on capoeira if it is true.
Here’s a little more on Taekkyun, from this website:
Unlike Taekwondo, which was developed last century, during the Japanese occupation, Taekkyun has been around on the peninsula for hundreds and hundreds of years. In fact Taekkyun was seen as being so essential to Korean character that during the Japanese occupation the practice of Taekkyun was banned (as was the speaking of Korean in school!). Taekkyun appears in folk paintings which are nearly a thousand years old. The first photographers to arrive in the Hermit Kingdom took photos of long haired boys, wearing the same white peasant clothes still worn by Taekkyun folks today. Taekkyun almost died out, because by the time the Japanese occupation was over, it was the warm up for the Korean war, and after that, reconstruction. No one had time in Korea for many years for pursuing dying cultural practices. Fortunately in the 80s two old men were discovered, still practicing Taekkyun (which is so gentle on joints and good for you that old people find it possible to continue long after they may have had to quit other physical pastimes).