The Golden Law in 1888 abolished slavery; however the newly freed slaves did not find a place within the existing socio-economic order. The Capoeirista (practitioner of Capoeira), with his fighting skills, self-confidence and individuality, quickly descended into criminality and Capoeira descended along with him. In Rio de Janiero, where Capoeira had developed exclusively as a form of fighting, criminal gangs terrorized the population. The club, the dagger and the switchblade were used to complement the damage done by various Capoeira moves. During the transition from the Brasilian Empire to the Brasilian republic in 1890, these gangs were used by both monarchists and republicans to exert pressure on and break up the rallies of their adversaries.

In Bahia on the other hand, Capoeira continued to develop into a ritual-dance-fight-game, and the berimbau began to be an indispensable instrument used to command the rodas (actual sessions of Capoeira games), which always took place in hidden locales since the practice of Capoeira in this era had already been outlawed by the first constitution of the Brasilian Republic (1892).