I enjoy doing capoeira, but one of the escape movements is giving me a lot of trouble. In the Queda de Quatro, where one leans backwards into a crab walk position to avoid a blow, I can't seem to do it in a way where my shoulders don't ache with the impact, at least with proper technique and hand positioning. Hands pointed forward, I just can't get my shoulders to countenance the movement. I have a similar problem doing the calisthenics exercise where you put your hands behind you while in a seated position and lift your buttocks in the air and flatten your body horizontally. Based on the feeling of the motion, I almost feel like my arms are too short in proportion to my body, but the strain is in the shoulders, in particular around the front of the joint.

I can do it successfully if I turn my hands so that they face backwards, but my mestre has told me that doing that makes it much more likely that I'll get my elbows broken by either the impact or a strike I don't dodge.

If there's any additional info I can give to help others help me with this, please tell me and I will elaborate on my question.

2 Answers 2


Not sure what you mean by crab walk, but I guess I could kinda see why you would call it that.

Here's a shoulder flexibility exercise for the range of motion the two movements you mention involve:

  • stand straight, feet together
  • prepatory stretching: interlock your fingers, arms straight above head, palm out facing sky
  • lean back as far as you can go, breathing out, keeping arms straight above head
  • breathe in, stand back straight, keeping your fingers interlocked
  • breathe out, fold foward, back straight, put palms on floor
  • stand back up, fingers still interlocked
  • this time unclasp your hands above your head, breath out, place palms in prayer position behind your back and lean back as you did before. Illustration.
  • stand straight, prayer hands still behind your back, interlock fingers, straighten arms. Illustration.
  • push hands as far away from your back as possible
  • now, fold forward at the waist
  • this is the best part: have a buddy slowly pull your hands forward of your head and hold them at the position where you tell him "stop"
  • breathe deep and keep holding for like 20 breaths
  • tell your buddy to slowly release when you're ready.

If you don't have a buddy, you can still do everything else.

  • Eyeh. I kind of agree with you that "crab walk" is usually the wrong word, as the general execution of it involves the hands being fairly close to the feet so that you can readily arise and/or transition to other positions, but I saw the "crab walk" description elsewhere and it seemed a good enough explanation, particularly with how capoeira moves aren't horribly standardized in regards to names. Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 13:30

I advocate balance to strength.

As a matter of fact, strength in the shoulders tend to make them rigid. Strong rigid shoulders may cause stress on the deltoids when in such a position (which I know as the "Ponte").

In executing the Queda de Quatro as an "esquiva" you need not stop at the "crab walk" stance ("Ponte"); since capoeira is free-flowing.

Balance, agility and flexibility are the necessary tools to drop down, escape and continue the game. And pertaining to the hands, I find it easier when my fingers are pointing inwards (facing each other); this way, the elbows are pointing outwards making it look like a reverse knee. This helps hold my body weight longer than the reverse.

In conclusion, forget the intricacies of how your hand is meant to be, what to do when, how to do what. Focus on the game and allow the music carry you. Your body will slowly show you what's best; and with that, you'd have a good game and may even end up wowing the crowd

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