In a multicultural city such as Cape Town, one activity that brings together two cultures which are geographically about six thousand kilometres apart, is the martial art of capoeira.
With the Western Cape caught in the midst of a cold and wet spell, what better way than to head indoors and try a sport that combines South American beats coupled with slick martial art movements.
Developed by African slaves in Brazil, capoeira can be described as a martial (fighting) art as well as an artform or even as a sport. Or as a Mestre, as a capoeira master is called, describes it: “One art in many arts.”
Capoeira is typically “played” by two people in a circle or “roda” in front of singing, clapping and instrument-playing onlookers.
The singing, clapping and music are rooted in capoeira’s African heritage.
The aim of the activity is to “attack” and avoid being “attacked” in a non-contact way. Over the years, capoeira has developed into a smooth, acrobatic, stylised and interactive activity.
Marcio Lopes, known by his capoeira name as Beleza, believes that the art has benefits for kids and adults alike. “Capoeira benefits young people as it builds confidence while also affording opportunities to learn to play different, exotic instruments.” he says.
“Of course, adults will like the de-stressing and exercise elements of capoeira as well as the social interaction that goes together with playing capoeira.”
Lopes is affiliated to Abada Capoeira in Brazil while locally he is actively involved in an organisation called the Capoeira Educational Youth Association (CEYA).
One of the CEYA’s flagship projects is called Community Capoeira and includes teaching youth at risk social and physical skills through capoeira. The project works with young people across the city.
Lopes says the growth of capoeira has been slow, mainly due to a lack of trained instructors.
He says there are only two instructors, besides him, that are teaching capoeira in the greater Cape Town. For this reason, he has been working with and training a number of young people in various communities to lead classes at community centres.
Once a year, CEYA also organises an annual Capoeira Festival where participants can be graded by an international capoeira master.
In addition to his adult and youth classes at the Observatory Recreation Centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Beleza also teaches capoeira at a number of schools and creches in the city.
Call 083 506 6026 or visit www.abadacapoeira.org.za for details.