How Capoeira Stole my Heart
Few days have passed since we welcomed the New Year and most people seize this opportunity to start fresh. A clean slate means making resolutions for the betterment of people’s quality of life. In general, this time of the year also triggers many to jump-start their health journey or to make room for improvement.
In my quest of constantly looking for personal growth within the body, the mind and the soul, I tried something new, totally outside the box (for me). I discovered Capoeira and my life has changed for the better.
At this point, you might be wondering what Capoeira is and how to even pronounce it. Well, CAPOEIRA: [kapuˈejɾɐ / ka'pwɐjɾɐ] is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It traces it roots back to the African slavery in Brazil. In fact, to even go further, Capoeira origins are from Angola; it is believed to be part of the Angolan tradition of “Engolo” but became applied as a method of survival that was known to slaves. (Capoeira, Nestor (2012). Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game).
The slaves in Brazil had to disguise the fact that they were practicing fight moves by incorporating music and dance. It is safe to say that their oppressors would not be too keen to allow them to practice fight moves for obvious reasons. Later, when Capoeira was prohibited in Brazil, practitioners (capoeiristas) where using nickname (apelito) in order not to be reprimanded when caught by the authorities.
Generally, Capoeira is played as a game (jogo) in a circle called a roda, accompanied by music and singing. The “Ginga” which means sway in Portuguese is the most basic step and serves as source for all the other movements in Capoeira.
I first came across this mix martial art in New York City few years ago where a crowd of people was gathered in a circle in the middle of Central Park on a hot summer day. I recalled being blown away by all the acrobatics and the music that was so captivating. At that point, I was definitely intrigued by what I just witness that I started doing some research about it. It was not until few years later that I would encounter capoeira on my path again. After accompanying a friend to her capoeira class in Montreal, I was determined to try it upon my return to Toronto.
I decided to take few classes with a Scarborough based group called KADARA CAPOEIRA just to taste the water. I still remember the exact day that I joined that group for a trial class. There was palpable type energy in the room and all the students were extremely welcoming and accommodating. The professor is particularly knowledgeable of his craft and teaches with such passion and devotion. The class lasted about two hours and left me wanted so much more. At the end of class, I went up to the professor (Soquete) and asked to join the group. He looked at me with a surprised look on his face and proceeded to ask me if I was certain of my decision to join. He then explained that most people would try it for a while before making any decision; that is why they have free trial classes.
It only took one try and I was forever hooked; deep down I just knew that I fell in love and there was no escaping it now. I never once felt inadequate thanks to Professor Soquete taking few moments to teach me the basic moves while his more advanced students were doing crazy acrobatics moves. The following week, I was in full uniform ready for class and eager to learn. I believe what sold me beside the allure of capoeira itself, was the dynamic of all the students at KADARA. It was nice to see all of them working in such synergy with no ego involved; I was deeply touched. Plus Soquete has been a capoeirista for almost two decades; he is such a wealth of knowledge. With no hesitation I decided to join them, as I felt right at home; they are now my second family.
There is a misconception that one need to be in great physical shape to practice Capoeira; that is absolutely false as you learn at your own pace. Don’t be discouraged from trying it just because you are out of shape, not a gymnast or not an acrobat. As a beginner, you would learn basic moves and gradually grow from there. After few months of training, you might just be pleasantly surprise of what you can do and how your body is transforming for the better. Once again, the important thing to remember here is progress over perfection.
It is important to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly in regards it to Capoeira. Like any other martial art, it requires a lot of dedication. That means countless hours of training and learning new moves. In addition, a true capoeirista should be knowledgeable about the culture and history associated with it. It also is a great opportunity to learn how to play new musical instruments and sing. On the other hand, because it is at times physically demanding, you will be more prone to injuries.
Lat but not least, Capoeira provides countless health benefits such as improvement with cardio, agility, reflex, and balance. In fact, because of the nature of the game, you are constantly doing some defensive or offensive move (Kick or dogde/escape the kick). You would quickly develop fast reflexes.
It also increases muscle strength and flexibility. For example, you can develop muscles and joints mobility thanks to Capoeira as it takes the body in all direction (bending, stretching, twisting…).
As a final thought, I can honestly say that Capoeira nourishes my soul to the fullest. It allows me to escape from a crazy, stressful life to a happy place where nothing else matters. Plus, besides all the health benefits it provides, it has taught me a great deal of humility and patience. Today I am a proud capoeirista as I continue to learn and grown each day from this incredible martial art form.
Thus, if you are looking for an alternative to your workout, looking to break your gym routine or even trying to escape crowded gyms this time of the year capoeira might just be your answer.