Having previously practiced Russian martial arts, my curiosity was piqued when I heard about Capoeira (kap-oo-air-uh). Initially, I didn’t know much about the world of this Afro-Brazilian art which encompasses dance, combat, music, and acrobatics. So, I was thrilled to visit the Axé Capoeira Studio, sit in on a class, and see the action for myself. There, students of various levels are led by the rhythmic trance of traditional Brazilian music by the experienced Professor (Paraiba) Marcos Martins. He leads each session of the Capoeira game with a basic step called Ginga (a move that Marcos later revealed is a workout in itself) leading beginners, in particular, to feel sore the next day. Capoeira isn’t done with an ulterior motive, like to become a working professional or stuntman, but for the pure energy and love of it. This art form requires a remarkable amount of focus and dedication that is truly inspiring.
After the class, Marcos explained to me that many students train up to six times per week and, even in his personal practice, he teaches up to four daily sessions. The studio is always packed with students who linger after class to continue rolling off of their mats, dancing, throwing some punches and even playing instruments like the berriboi, medio, and viola. “Music is a big part of it,” said Marcos, “as you advance in the practice, you learn the music and the instruments…. You have the opponent’s message within the song, so if you’re not aware of it, you’re at a disadvantage.” It seems that this kind of all-inclusive, multidisciplinary approach keeps students wanting more. Capoeira is more than self-defence, it is a cultural experience meant to defy and challenge the body, not unlike breakdancing or Parkour.
Brace yourself for both full immersion and high intensity when first starting Capoeira, as its continuous flow always adheres to the rhythmic feel of the music. One must also be prepared for discipline, as you can’t turn into a master overnight. Just like ballet, where you spend countless hours learning the basics like relevés or pliés, repetition is a must. Marcos gave a class speech, on how it took him five years to perfect the backflip, and how he started this sport at the young age of 12. After observing the training, I can definitely assure readers, that it is rewarding to excel in this exotic craft, especially when there is an encouraging community to guide you.
Whether you decide to involve yourself in Capoeira to shed a few inches off your waist or to raise your self-confidence, being an active player in this musical game (jogo) may not only earn you a cord-belt, it may even further your determination and drive in your daily life. Marcos and studio manager Christine are both full of energy, passion, and knowledge of this martial art. And they are eager to share this experience with you.