Japanese magazine “Super City”, July 1st Issue [Wushu in Shanghai]
Brazilian Wushu – Capoeira
Capoeira is Brazilian Martial Art and it is quiet-boom but definitely getting more attentions these days in Japan. It is said that Capoeira was invented by black slaves and they tried to pretend like they were dancing so that the guard didn’t notice that they were actually exercising. With those background, capoeira established current style which has music instrument and singing and the movement is just like dancing. You also can experience Capoeira in Shanghai. Let’s see what we experienced with Capoeira in this issue.
Diego Guerreiro: From Italy. Capoeira experience 11 years. Blue Belt. He is certified instructer by Capoeira Brazilian Master, Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha.
What is Brazilian Martial Art “Capoeira”?
It is said that Capoeira was invented by Brazilian black slaves. Brazilian slavery started in 1500 when Portugal colonized Brazil and it continued till 1888, May 13th when slavery was abolished. But even after abolishment, segregation to the ex-slaves still existed. Capoeira was also prohibited from 1892 to 1932 for 40years.
When we express “to practice Capoeira”in English, we use the term “play” rather than “practice/train”.The reason could be not only the background that they tried to pretend like they were dancing, playing not practicing, but also when we play Capoeira, we use our body and communicate with each other. So, the term”play”could be more suitable than “practice”.
The movement of Capoeira is said “graceful as a panther and as treacherous as a snake”smoothly change your form as go with flow. You need flexibility of your body, yet the movement is very functional. You can see the basic step, Ginga. You use one arm to protect yourself and also keep swinging your body right and left with steps, always on alart.
There are mainly 3 things that Capoeira is different from other martial arts. One is that you always play with your partner, 2nd is that we use music instrument and sing songs while we are playing Capoeira. Lastly, when you kick, you can’t actually hit your partner. This cause controversial issue if Capoeira is martial art or not. Capoeira’s movement always has 2sids, so you and your partner make one set of movement. Also, if you play Capoeira, you also need to learn how to play atabaque which is Brazilian hand drum and sing Portugese songs. BY doing those activities, you can feel team spirit and when you move with you partner, it will be easier to communicate.
It is very unique experience this time is that who teaches the basic movement to the new comer is not the instructor but each student by turn. This is how they do it and it is the spirit of Capoeira, help each other and have fun together. As you can observe the class you can feel that they are connected by Capoeira and team spirit is very important for them.
From the instructor to beginners:
Anyone can play Capoeira and it is very important to play it a lot. Ideally twice or three times a week. Then you can improve your flexibility, alterness and physical strength. Also you can meet new people and enjoy the interaction.
The class starts relaxation and stretch, students warm up individually and concentrate for the preparation. Then listening to the music and practice basic steps. After the basic steps, they review various movements with partner and move on to learn new steps. You have to use whole body, so the amount of exercise is quite a lot, you can improve physical endurance as well. Lastly make the circle, playing atabaque and sometimes singing songs, 2 people play Capoeira in the middle of circle by turn. After the practice always do the relaxation stretch together. Class atmosphere is very friendly and enjoyable.
I felt like dancing when I heard cheerful Brazilian music in the studio. Just remembering all the different movement was a challenge for me. Movement like holding my upper body by one arm or doing bridge from squat down posture were a bit hard for the beginners, but several teachers who were different nationalities taught me step by step and it was fun. As I imagined before all those teachers were very friendly, gentle and macho. The class atmosphere was very friendly. As I joined the class and observed other students who were having fighting spirits inside, still enjoying the class and having fun, I felt like my soul was relaxed and released rather than my body.