Capoeira – That Brazilian Dance-fight-martial art -could be the best thing for your children (and you).
Capoeira – ‘ca-po-wear-a’ – is a martial art that hails from exotic, exciting Brazil. It has a debated history, though most people agree that it was developed on the streets of Brazil by African and Native Brazilian slaves in the early 1900s. Capoeira combines music, dance, acrobatics, culture and of course, martial arts. Each element is individually dynamic, and yet combined, is unique and fascinating.
What is capoeira exactly?
Initially, capoeira appears to be a choreographed dance of kicks and movements between two people. But it is really a game of questions and answers; a dialogue of kicks, escapes and florieos (acrobatics). Rather than block an attack, a capoeirista (capoeira practitioner) will escape or ‘esquiva’. There are only two people ‘playing’ capoeira at one time, and it is done inside a ‘roda’ or circle. The energy comes from the live music and singing. Whoever is leading the roda will usually begin the singing, and whoever is part of the circle will respond with the chorus. The more advanced a capoeirista, the more they will add in acrobatics and challenge their opponent.
The beauty of capoeira lies in the diversity of the movements. From fast kicks to flying acrobatics back to fast kicks, without losing the flow of the game and the beat of the music.
Capoeria wouldn’t be what it is if it didn’t have that added cheeky element that defines Brazil. Behind the smile there’s a takedown waiting to happen, and in the songs there’s a message for the capoeiristas taking part. Being ‘malandro’ in capoeira means to be smart in your movements, and smooth in your delivery.
What makes it so great for kids?
Capoeira is fun, it’s interesting, it’s challenging and it’s different! It gives children an opportunity to explore their abilities not only physically, but artistically as well. Through all its elements, capoeira covers many essential developmental steps. As well as being exciting and energetic, it helps develop coordination and motor skills, it helps build self-confidence and a solid foundation for all physical activities.
There is also such a great sense of community in capoeira. As in any martial art, there is a grading system, and it usually happens once a year. All students get together and show off what they have learnt throughout the year as well as celebrating their achievements. And not just in Hong Kong. You can travel almost anywhere in the world nowadays and find a capoeira community that is welcoming.
According to William Indio, founder and director of Hong Kong School of Capoeira, Hong Kong’s largest children’s capoeira school, it’s also about exposing the kids to Brazilian culture. He believes it’s an integral part of capoeira. He does this by inviting teachers and masters from all over the world to come and give workshops as well as holding capoeira tournaments and meet ups. There are usually teachers of other Brazilian arts there that are invited to teach, from samba to jiu jitsu to Brazilian percussion.
Is capoeira for adults too?
Capoeria welcomes all ages and walks of life. It is a fun, fantastic workout engaging all muscles and develops physical conditioning. The thought of a cartwheel probably scares you back to your school gym days, but the satisfaction of achieving it gives you the motivation to keep challenging yourself.
Though still relatively new to Asia, capoeira is quickly being recognised as a form of fitness that has something for everyone. In a city that demands results from its fitness, capoeira gives a complete workout that never stops pushing you and keeps you hooked.
If you are looking for a new and demanding yet satisfying way to workout, capoeira is definitely worth a try.