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To capoeira, or not to capoeira?

Weak. Hot. Destroyed. The clock shows there are still 30 more minutes left. My legs are not listening to me anymore. I am all drenched in my own sweat. There are days when I dread going to the practice. This is one of those days……and I am glad I came because that feeling goes away instantly once I am here.

“What’s past is prologue”

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I loved football when I was a kid. I cannot be sure what exactly made me lose that love for the game, but over the years I have come to my own conclusions. It is possible that I just grew out of it and there was nothing behind it. However, I think a huge part of it was because of competition. Not just the regular competition because that is always present in a game or a sport. This competition was between people that were not even on the field with me. It was parents, trainers, and the other onlookers. At times, I felt like they were more invested in the game than I was. That investment reflected in not the best of lights, and later that same attitude was passed to the players itself. That was the day I fell out of love with football.

In capoeira, this is not an issue. There is no winner in capoeira. Yes, one person in roda (the circle where capoeira is played) is going to do better than the other, but I have never heard anyone claim to be the winner. Here, I can just focus on myself and my improvement without needing to beat the other team or the other opponent. At the same time, you want your opponent to improve too because playing capoeira is way more fun when you both know how to do the movements. Your opponent is in a way your dancing partner.

Nevertheless, there is competition to be found in capoeira. You can feint your movements to trick the other person into a defensive maneuver and thus get an upper hand in the game. I like that part. It incorporates both physical and mental strengths. If your physical part is not that great yet, you can cover for it with your strategy and vice versa. Both parts can be improved, sometimes just by observing and learning from others. Capoeira is the football I remember enjoying playing as a kid.

The combination of martial arts, dancing, music and acrobatics works really well. You get all the benefits of getting to train your kicks and other movements without getting unnecessarily hurt. It also feels like a dance but without the awkwardness you sometimes might feel when dancing. And lately, I have also found myself humming the music we listen to during the practice. Some of those songs are really catchy. The saying “you play capoeira, not do capoeira” is very much true. You get a good workout while having fun.

When I started doing the trainings, the first two weeks left me feeling like I would not really enjoy them going forward. However, after that I adjusted to the exercises, and now I wish I could go to the trainings more often. I can see myself progressing each time I go there, and seeing quick results is always a great confidence boost.

My handstands were nonexistent at the start, but now I am getting closer with each training. I am looking forward to seeing what I will be able to do even a month from now. The trainings are genuinely fun. The group is great, the trainers are great, and with both of them you will get to learn a nice variety of movements.

The last few minutes dedicated to stretching are a great conclusion to the training. It is a cool down period compared to the rest of the training. You get to breathe in and breathe out in a controlled manner. Nonetheless, the stretches are difficult in its own way. Some of them make me sweat more than the exercises during the training, and others make me laugh because of the stretching sensation.

However, the activity before stretching is my favorite one. This is when we get to play capoeira in roda. It usually does not last long, but this is where you get to use all the movements you have just learned. The short duration of the roda is appropriate because by the time we get there, I barely have anything left in the tank, but that is also part of the fun for me. The movements look way different once you are exhausted. They are either very slow or you cannot perform them at all. That combined with my muscles aching usually leaves me laughing, even more when there is no one to replace me in roda for a long time.

“One always wonders about roads not taken.”

― Warren Christopher

The capoeira trainings are worth a try, especially since the first training is free. It might not be for you, but if you never try, you will always be left with the question “what if?” in the back of your mind.