A group of performers indelibly etched the excitement and color of the Brazilian art form capoeira into the minds of viewers around the world at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup half a month ago.
Capoeira originated from the slave communities on the east coast of Brazil, its popularity exploding internationally over the past 25 years or so, drawing some dedicated fans in Shanghai in the process.
Its charm is distinct from other popular classes such as karate or yoga, according to Diego Pappalardo, who began instructing the art in Shanghai from 2005. Capoeira is not only a great physical activity, he says, but also involves music – instruments and songs – and culture.
下面我们先跟Capoeira Mandinga Shanghai的Diego Pappalardo老师一起领略两招巴西战舞的独特技巧和魅力！
It is a handstand in capoeira that derives its name from the banana trees of Brazil. The hands are spread at least shoulder-width apart and the legs are usually together over the capoerista’s head.
It is a low back-flip using one arm. It means “monkey” since it resembles a type of movement a monkey would perform. This can be used in conjunction with other movements, attacks and escapes.
“When learning capoeira songs, students also learn its language (Portuguese) and its history, with many aspects of the Brazilian culture,” says Diego, the main instructor of Capoeira Mandinga Shanghai, the first group to teach the art in China.
“Capoeiristas play capoeira, but do not fight. There is an interaction between the students which creates a special link and relationship.”
As such, capoeira is a perfect choice for people who get bored in the gym and want to be fit and lean while having fun and making new friends.
“It is not for lazy people though,” says Diego, a native of Italy. “It is for people ready to train hard and sweat and want to be able to move their body better.”
Talking about how the art will improve one’s physique, the instructor says that capoeira has plenty of health benefits, from overall flexibility to overall strength, from coordination to cardio, and from fat burning to stress release.
The main benefits of doing capoeira include helping improve one’s balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, rhythm and timing, and respect and consideration of others, Diego says.
“All of these skills can be incorporated into everyday life for the development and improvement of oneself.”
Capoeira is also a great sport for children because it combines martial arts, gymnastics, music and dance and provides a fun, challenging workout, he adds.
那么巴西战舞课堂究竟是什么样的？小编对Capoeira Mandinga Shanghai教室进行了探访。在初级班课堂里，聚集着20多位18到40岁来自国内外的学员。
What does a capoeira class and a typical session look like?
A visit by a Shanghai Star reporter earlier last month to the beginner class at Capoeira Mandinga Shanghai found more than 20 students, both Chinese and expats, with an age range from 18 to more than 40, following their instructor.
As the music begins, they stretch and learn the basic movements together. At other times, they will be divided into small groups and students can help each other to improve.
The training involves a lot of working out but everyone seems to be focused and happy.
Once a week the group learns a Brazilian song before the warm-up and then they practice a ritual dance with sticks, train, and finish with a roda, Diego says.
“There can always be something different, sometimes we practice songs during a regular class, and the combinations of movements are infinite,” he adds.
Queda de Rim
Daniel Allegri, a 28-year-old American who has been performing capoeira for two-and-a-half years, says: “It’s fun because it’s different from going to a gym. I can lose weight and become more flexible while enjoying the martial art.”
Claire Yan, 26, from China, says that it has been a happy experience of learning the art with people from all over the world. “We sing together, and learn how to play the instruments and language. It’s a good way to make new friends.”
Capoeira Mandinga Shanghai
The club is the first capoeira group in Shanghai. Monday and Wednesday classes are for beginners, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are intermediate level. Saturday is an all-level class learning music and roda.
Wellness Expert at Shanghai Center, Room 666, 6/F, 1376 West Nanjing road
Monthly fee: 600 yuan （$96）