Filed under: Tips & Guides
This is part of my beginner’s guide to capoeira. If you like what you read, head over to Capoeira For Beginners for the entire series.
There are hundreds of physical activities for people to choose from, so why should you choose capoeira over ultimate frisbee?
Capoeira is at once a widely communal and a deeply individual experience. Once you become a capoeirista, you form an instant bond with thousands of people across the globe who share your passion. At the same time, you will gain the ability to do things that most of the general public could never dream of doing, and in doing so you will discover a true sense of uniqueness.
If you want to start capoeira, or if you’ve ever seen capoeira and were curious about it, you’ve come to the right place.
If it wasn’t clear from the superhero-like bodies that some capoeiristas have, capoeira has some impressive health benefits, such as:
- Strength: Capoeiristas are always moving around on their hands in handstands, rolls, poses, etc. that can make a drastic improvement on upper body strength. They also perform many jumping kicks and movements that definitely improve leg strength.
- Flexibility: Some capoeiristas are on par with yoga practitioners in terms of their flexibility.
- Cardio and Stamina: Intense capoeira games can require enormous amounts of energy. This, combined with constant repetition of movements and techniques, makes capoeira a valuable cardio exercise.
- Overall Fitness: Capoeira will improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina, thus improving your overall fitness. It may take a while to become fit, but once you start to take capoeira seriously you can become the picture of health.
In addition to the numerous health benefits that capoeira offers, it can also improve your social life:
- Meet new people: When you join a capoeira group, you become part of a family. You will meet people from all over the world, and you will definitely make new friends along the way.
- Learn a new language: You may not become fluent (though that’s always a possibility), but there is no doubt that you will come to understand and perhaps speak a bit of Brazilian Portuguese.
- Learn about a new culture: Capoeira is deeply connected to Brazil. In a time when many martial arts are reduced to aerobic workouts and cookie cutter dojos, capoeira maintains all of its roots and traditions. Maybe you’ll even develop a taste for Brazilian food!
- Gain confidence: If nothing else, capoeira is perfect for instilling a sense of pride and confidence in anyone who plays. Not only will you feel stronger and more courageous once you become comfortable in the jogo, you’ll find confidence in knowing that you are unique among your (non-capoeira) peers because you can do things they couldn’t imagine doing.
When you decide to start taking capoeira, you may be faced with a choice to go down the path of capoeira angola or capoeira regional. I’ll give you a quick primer to each:
- Angola: Angola is the more “traditional” style of capoeira. The angola game focuses more on a slower (not always), controlled game played closer to the ground. There is a lot more emphasis on sneakiness and trickery (malicia).
- Regional: Regional keeps all of the traditions of capoeira, but focuses more on the martial and “flashy” aspects. In general, this is where you will find the fast, upright style of play characterized by high kicks and backflips.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with being a “capoeira chameleon” and learning both styles. Even if you have a preference for one over the other, it never hurts to know a little about both. And, as always, there is room for exception: not all regional is played the same, nor is all angola. A lot depends on the group you join, and even the song played by the berimbau (it dictates the game). One group may focus more on florieo (fancy tricks), while another focuses more on combat.
The best thing to do is research and try both, because it’s up to you to decide what best suits your tastes.
In the end, the decision to embark on the capoeira journey is one that only you can make for yourself. I can give you reasons why capoeira is awesome, but only you can choose to listen to me. One might say that these reasons can apply to any martial art or dance, which is somewhat true. But there is so much more to capoeira that makes it special, it could never be covered in a simple blog post.
Capoeira isn’t for everybody, but if you catch the capoeira bug you will know almost instantly if capoeira is for you.
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