Fitness Magazine

Capoeira – A Brazilian Art & A Fun Way to Get Fit!

By Kenin Bassart @Constantramble

Capoeira originated in Brazil during the 16th century.  There are a few versions of the story but basically Capoeira was formed by slaves so that they could defend themselves.  They lived in horrible conditions and out-numbered their owners significantly. This is why if slaves were caught practicing any form of fighting techniques their punishment would be severe, often resulting in death.  The slaves worked to make their movements look more like a dance to avoid detection by the slave owners. Slaves practiced Capoeira to music and song.  The traditions have been passed down through generations and Capoeira is now practiced all over the world.

Kids practicing capoeira to live music

Kids practicing to live music

When practicing Capoeira, your body is in constant motion.  Capoeiristas move back and forth in a triangular motion in a move they call “Ginga” all while keeping their eye on their opponent. More than just a distraction, Ginga prepares the capoeirista to launch their attack on their opponent. They can switch into different kicks, flips and handstands using “Ginga” as a starting point. The movements are quick and fluid with several different muscles being used for a full body work out. We discovered Capoeira by chance. We needed an afterschool program for our seven year old daughter and we found a place near our house that offered a program which included Capoiera classes.

Kids of all ages can practice

Kids of all ages can practice

We went one afternoon to check it out and we were very impressed with what we found. We signed her up immediately. Our daughter has been practicing the art of Capoiera for less than a year now but she’s already fallen in love with it and the culture from which it was born.  She trains hard daily and the results of her hard work are apparent.  She’s much more flexible now and her coordination has improved immensely.  She can do cartwheels and she can stand on her head.  Her kicks are strong and she’s getting really good at dodging her opponent. She’s working towards being able to land her flips. She is not yet satisfied with her splits but she’s getting there and I can see that she is much more confident knowing that she is better able to defend herself, if necessary.

She’s found an outlet for all that energy.  It’s a healthy activity, one that doesn’t involve a T.V., a couch, or a game console.  Even her eating habits have improved.  She wants to be the best and knows she needs to feed her body to get there.  No more fights at the dinner table and come to think of it bedtime has become much easier as well.  We were so pleased with how great she was doing that we started sending our three year old daughter twice a week to train too. She’s only been training a few weeks but just like with her big sister, the results are prominent.

Our fourteen year old daughter has decided that she too wants to start taking classes.  In addition to the physical training, students are taught music, dance, history and language as classes are taught in Portuguese.  The camaraderie is another benefit of practicing this form of martial arts.  There is culture here that encourages respect for yourself and each other. If a student makes a mistake they aren’t chastised for it.  People are held accountable for their actions and when someone is in need of help, fellow students are there to offer whatever assistance they can. It’s really become a second family for my girls and I am so grateful for it. Their teacher and classmates help instill in them important lessons about life and friendship that in my opinion are priceless.

Capoeira – A Brazilian Art & A Fun Way to Get Fit is a guest post by Kelly Williams

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