World of weird sport: CAPOEIRA

Capoeira is a unique blend of martial arts, dance, music and tradition that originates from Brazil. It builds core strength, flexibility, balance and is an ideal workout for people of all ages.

Slavery was abolished in Brazil when the “Golden Law” was passed in 1888 but many freed slaves became involved with gangs and capoeira was banned from 1892 to 1932. People still played but the practice was again forced underground.When a group of people get together to play capoeira they stand in a circle and take turns sparring in the middle. Both the meeting and the circular pattern are called the roda, which means “wheel” or “circle” in Portuguese.

Music is an all-important part of capoeira. A game is always played with music and the style of game played is determined by the style of music played. When the authorities approached a roda, the musicians would play a special song called the cavalaria as a secret signal to stop playing and start running!

Master Class

The two main styles of capoeira are called Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional. Angola is the more traditional style and is often played at a slower pace with an emphasis on ground moves. Regional is a newer style designed to make capoeira more accessible with faster and more athletic play.

Capoeira masters are known as mestres. The founding fathers of the two major styles of capoeira are Mestre Bimba, who taught the Regional style, and Mestre Pastinha, who taught Angola. Mestre Pastinha’s students wore yellow shirts and black pants, because these were also the colours of his favourite soccer team!

Art of Trickery

Capoeira is more about demonstrating your skill than striking your opponent. Moves are often faked or “shown” rather than followed through for a hit. And every aggressive move is seen as opportunity to practice the appropriate evasive move or negativas. This co-operation between players gives capoeira its distinctive flowing style.

The most basic movement in capoeria is called the ginga and simply involves rocking back and forth to the rhythm of the music. From each step of the ginga a player can launch into more athletic moves like kicks, sweeps, flips, rolls, cartwheels and handstands.

Once the basics are mastered, players also employ what is called malandragem or the playful art of trickery. Advanced play becomes very strategic as mestres use careful anticipation, observation and improvisation to fake out and fool their opponents.

For hours I watched video fellow Capoeiristas flow back and forth, molding themselves to the movements of their teammates, concentrating on each other’s eyes while they flipped and kicked and swayed. Even in that short time, I felt how something like this could help to sustain a people during times of suffering, just as the chanting and movements of davening gave strength to my people, the Jews, during their times of struggle.

sources : Google Images, Youtube, Wikipedia


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