An art, a lifestyle

“It can be said that Capoeira defies description,” says Professor Koe of Grupo Capoeira Brasil, Cayman.

“[And] that one must witness its magic firsthand to comprehend its energy, beauty, and skill. To understand the movement, music, and magnetism of Capoeira, we must explore the art’s fascinating tradition and mysterious history.

“Capoeira is a story of triumph and freedom. Rooted in the rich African cultures brought to Brazil by slaves, Capoeira’s history, mostly oral, is a subject of much debate.”

It is the teachings of old masters and a few surviving documents that tell the story of this singular art, says the expert. Capoeira’s origin dates back 500 years to the beginnings of Brazil’s slave trade period.

“Throughout the 488-year slave trade the Congo, Bantu, and Angolan tribes met and intermingled in the senzalas (slave quarters) and in the quilombos (escape slave nations). From this intermingling of cultures came a melding of traditions and rituals, and Capoeira was born.

“Capoeira and its practitioners persevered through centuries of marginalisation and discrimination and today the art has evolved from cultural ritual to martial art to way of life. This once clandestine vehicle of physical and spiritual empowerment, has transformed itself into a staple of Brazilian society. What was once outlawed by police is now an international phenomenon. Across the globe in fitness circles, artist communities, on print and television film we see Capoeira’s legacy.”

Diversity and tolerance

In the last few years, says the martial artist and instructor, Capoeira has taken the world by storm. In the United States, it is in demand, rapidly becoming the most sought-after art form and means of creative self-expression.

“Capoeira promotes diversity and tolerance, teaches discipline and respect for tradition, ensures amazing fitness, and encourages investment in culture. Programmes exist in over 35 states and in over 50 countries. From coast-to-coast, continent to continent, Capoeira is captivating people of all ages and walks of life,” he tells Weekender.

The art/dance/fitness discipline is as beautiful as it is good for you, we’re told. But what specific benefits are there?

“Capoeira is at once a widely communal and a deeply individual experience,” the expert tells us.

“Once you become a Capoeirista, you form an instant bond with thousands of people across the globe who share your passion. At the same time, you will gain the ability to do things that most of the general public could never dream of doing, and in doing so you will discover a true sense of uniqueness. If it wasn’t clear from the superhero-like bodies that some Capoeiristas have, Capoeira has some impressive health benefits.”

These include strength, yoga-like flexibility, cardio and stamina and overall fitness. Aside from this, you’re going to improve your social life by meeting new people from all over the world, learning about Brazilian culture (and food) as well as learning some Brazilian Portuguese, an intrinsic part of the process.

The professor has been teaching in the Cayman Islands since 2010 and the Rio de Janeiro-born instructor has a long history with the art.

“The first time I saw Capoeira I was 11 years old,” he says. “It was so powerful in energy and magic, To see people singing,fighting was incredible.

“The reaction has been very good in Cayman. Capoeira in cayman islands has a lot of talented people.”

The group meets at Studio No. 1, Dorcy Place in Industrial Park and has classes for all ages.

For more information call 916-3673,