All you need to know about Capoeira
We talk with Kirsten Wong who teachers Capoeria to Auckland children to find out what it is and why your kids might enjoy trying it.
What is Capoeira?
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian fighting style and art form with a deep history dating back around the 1500s with the slave trade of African people to Brazil.
Is Capoeira at martial art?
Yes, Capoeria is a martial art that stems from both Brazil and Africa.
What are the benefits for children to learn Capoeira?
It is a great way for children to develop their coordination, rhythm and confidence. Like with most forms of exercise, it alleviates stress and it has widespread benefits on health and wellbeing. It also helps young people to feel more comfortable with themselves and in their own bodies.
Capoeira also involves a philosophy and an outlook on life which is based on respect for others, harmony and self-empowerment through discipline and awareness of the self and others. The traditional musical elements not only helps to bring people together, but it amplifies feelings of inclusion and sense of community. As such, it is a powerful practice for social integration and personal development.
What ages can children start to learn Capoeira?
We have had children as young as 5 learn Capoeira with us, but open to meeting kids of all ages to see how they are drawn to movement and music.
What gear do you need when you start Capoeira?
Comfortable t-shirt, pants and water bottle.
What usually happens when a Capoeira club gets together?
With the kids, we check in with each other before warming up. We learn and practice Capoeira movements and music before playing capoeira together in a roda (circle) at the end of class. There is usually time for a small game or two before warming down as well.
How long does it take to play capoeira like a pro?
I think that capoeira is a life-long journey as it is such a complex art form, so when you become a “pro” varies between individuals and groups. In several capoeira schools there are belt systems similar to other martial arts where there is a hierarchy of titles based on your skill and commitment. To become the highest level (mestre / master) in Au Capoeira, it will take decades of dedication to the art.
What made you become a Capoeira teacher?
I am one of the current senior students helping to support Au Capoeira in New Zealand. I wanted to teach classes as a way to keep the school going for all those who were keen to keep practising and get a lot out of the group environment. We are also like a big family who share many laughs and support one another throughout trainings and general life.
What do you enjoy about teaching Capoeira to children the most?
I really enjoy seeing the kids develop many aspects of themselves as they learn capoeira; expressing themselves creatively and engaging in a fascinating practise that is different from New Zealand culture. Seeing the kids showing pride in learning a new move or song, or asking questions to learn more is really rewarding and shows that children have an enormous capacity to grow when given the opportunities.
Finlay McCallum who is 8 years old tells us why he likes Capoeira.
My name is Finlay McCallum. I am eight years old and I have been practising Capoeira for three years. I go to kids Capoeira classes at the Birkdale Community House, which is near to where I live in Beach Haven.
I have the brown corda (belt) which is the third kids’ belt and it represents the earth – the soil on which the newly arrived slaves in Brazil laboured, while being subjected to sub-human conditions. This belt is all about gaining awareness of my path in Capoeira, and how much I need to work to achieve success.
There are lots of things I love about Capoeira. I like the music and the flow of it. I also like the feel of the cartwheel, because it makes me feel like I am flying.
By Finlay McCallum