Capoeira is more than just an art. It is a way of life, a discipline packed with etiquette and rules and yet it is never choreographed MARTIAL ARTS: the underdog’s weapon for life in so many ways. Some use it for practical purposes, others merely for enjoyment. It comes in different forms. One of them is the art of capoeira.
University of Zambia (UNZA) capoeira trainer Damien Musuka says capoeira combines the art of dance, fight, entertainment as well as mediation. It can be used for self-defense, to relieve stress after a long day or simply to keep fit for those bent on physical fitness.
Damien, who is a freelance in events management, says capoeira is the most complete form of martial arts as it allows for free movement.
“Most forms or martial arts are based on linear movements, but capoeira combines different forms of movements and this makes it unique,” he explains.
Damien started martial arts at the age of 19 years in Shaolin Kung Fu. Before training in Capoeira, Musuka tried other forms of martial arts like Chen-style t'ai chi and Shorinji Kempo.
He says capoeira can be experienced by anyone from any walk of life and ethnicity, young or old, male or female.
He adds that even locally, a large number of people have trained and still train in capoeira.
But one might wonder where this strange art came from and what its purpose is as they observe capoeiristas (capoeira practitioners) going about their strange mannerisms in the sports hall at UNZA.
“About five hundred years ago, African slaves from all over sub-Saharan Africa; Congo, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, were taken to America by the Portuguese. These slaves came up with capoeira to train themselves for combat and a way to protect themselves,” Damien explains.
He says since the Portuguese outlawed any form of combat training, the capoeiristas chose to emphasize the use of the rhythmic footwork known as Ginga, which the Portuguese assumed was a dance. This paired with the traditional instruments played and songs sung during these games helped conceal its purpose. During the fight for independence however the Portuguese encountered capoeira as a fighting system. In one case their soldiers reported losing a hundred soldiers to fourteen capoeiristas.
In relation to the rich history of capoeira, Damien says he uses capoeira for self-defense and helping others. He recalls the time he helped a lady who was being mugged.
He adds that there are many benefits to learning capoeira.
“Once one becomes a capoeirista, they form an instant bond with thousands of people across the globe who share the same passion, thus improving one’s social skills. At the same time, the body of a trained capoeirista, or even an amateur, has the ability to do things that most people generally cannot even imagine, which brings about a true sense of uniqueness,” Damien says.
With constant capoeira training, he says one gains strength, flexibility, good cardio and stamina and overall fitness furhter describing capoeira as a fun, intellectual way of keeping fit.
Through capoeira, one can also learn a new language. Even though not fluently, one will be able to speak and understand to some extent Brazilian Portuguese. In addition to this, a new culture can be learned. Who knows, you could even develop a taste for Brazilian food.
The one benefit that could help out many people is the fact that capoeira helps one gain confidence which is an important element in people’s lives whether it comes to making difficult decisions or speaking out to a mass audience.
Capoeira is more than just an art. It is a way of life, a discipline packed with etiquette and rules and yet it is never choreographed. It incorporates music, movement, practicality and analysis. What’s not to like about capoeira?