As the Fitness Festival is just around the corner we decided to turn the spotlight towards something a bit different and that not many people will have heard about. So what would be more perfect than Capoeira, an activity that until very recently I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone take part in!
One Monday evening, I was tasked by the SWEAT bosses to attend a class to see what it was all about – I think they knew it was a type of martial art which combines acrobatics with dance, and as I have no rhythm, who would be better to attend?
So, I went along to Portsmouth Academy for Girls and was slightly early so managed to catch a sneak peek as instructor Dori led the children’s class. The kids were performing a crab-like walk across the room and looked like they were having fun. It didn’t look too difficult so there was hope for me!
The regular class members started to arrive and prepare for the session; they wore white trousers tied up with different colour rope belts, depending on their ability and a signature Capoeira top. We were then all called to form a circle around the two boys in the class so they could challenge each other to a 'game' where they performed what they had been learning in their class that day. What was interesting is that there was no physical contact involved. Everyone in the circle clapped and sung in Portuguese as the boys played. (Sadly my grasp of the language meant I couldn't join in the singing this time!) There was a happy atmosphere in the room and I could tell that everyone really enjoyed the art of Capoeira.
The class began with a thorough warm-up, with extra emphasis on dynamic stretching of the hamstrings and mobility. We then moved on to some dance-like steps leading into kicks. Surprisingly it wasn’t too complicated to pick up but was physically challenging. Next, the participants broke off into pairs or threes to begin practicing different aspects of the Capoeira game. It was mesmerising to watch how they flowed together kicking and dodging. After twenty to thirty minutes of practicing different combinations of movements the group came together and formed a circle. Two members of the group had an up-coming birthday so they had the first game in the middle. Dori taught the group how to sing happy birthday in Portuguese as the games are played whilst the circle sing and play instruments, such as the Berimbau – a single stringed percussion instrument and the Pandeiro, which resembles a tambourine. When someone else wants to challenge a player in the middle, they signal with their arm and the person they are replacing backs out. It really is great fun to watch and is something everyone needs to see or take part in to truly understand how the game works.
Capoeira always brings a smile to the face – this is usually to symbolise that the Capoeiristas are not afraid of the danger that is coming, but after attending the session I could also tell it is because they all enjoy the sport and the sense of community.
Dori and her Capoeiristas will be at the Fitness Festival – be sure to check them out. It's a fantastic activity suitable for the whole family and is also as a great form of exercise, definitely harder work than it looks!
Dori and friends will be on stage at Midday - 12:20pm and you can expect performances across the Field throughout the day!