The Capoeira Mill

Art, dance, music, fight, culture. All of this is Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art with rhythm and instruments.

Capoeira came about at a time when Brazil was still under Portugal’s rule. The slaves used the rhythm and movements from their African dances to create a type of fight. This is how capoeira, a martial art, was disguised in dance.

In the gyms, the different levels of achievement achieved by the capoeira students are differentiated by ropes. When beginning, the student has a “raw” rope, and depending on their development, a “baptism” takes place – a party where those who practice capoeira and masters meet. The student must “play” with a master and take “a fall” from the same, and will then receive the first rope, which is “raw-blue” in colour, making the person a capoeirista. There are 13 ropes you must go through in order to get to the last one, which is white, and for masters only! Sometimes it can take up to two decades for this to happen!

Photo credit: Grupo Axé Capoeira.

The Axé Capoeira Group, founded by Mestre Barrão, in 1982, in the city of Recife, has many gyms around the world. Just in Canada there are 23, between Toronto, Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver. In Toronto, the teacher, Paraíba, leads the activities with over 120 students. “Here we practice many aspects of capoeira, from the technical base – flexibility and stretching, up to discipline and respect for colleagues”, explains Paraíba.

Capoeira can be learned at any age but, the fast kicks and acrobatic movements can be a challenge for older participants. Children can really benefit from this. Besides getting exercise, interaction with other students can help to foster social inclusion.

Anne “Sabiá”, Canadian and daughter of Brazilians, found at the Axé Capoeira Group, a way of exercising and having fun at the same time. And for the Canadian, Bethany “Bentevi”, capoeira changed her life. “At first, I only wanted to get some exercise. Today, I see many challenges ahead. I love the sport and the music. The group became my family”, says Bentevi.

Last year, a group of capoeira students from Axé Capoeira visited Recife for a series of events and were able to see up close some more Brazilian culture. “Practicing capoeira was the best thing that happened in my life”, states Max “Dunga”.

Classes for beginners start all the time, so for more information go to the site and see where the gym closest to you is. Salve!