You’ve just heard of a friend who joined kick-boxing classes, another who is learning bizarre dance moves and another who's into CrossFit. If this leaves you confused you want to be different, then maybe it is time to take a closer look at Capoeira. While capoeira has always been incredibly popular in the country of its birth, Brazil, it is now making its presence felt all over the world. In fact, every gym in Paris offers Capoeira classes, which is a ringing endorsement for all things in fashion, and now the martial arts classes are in Mumbai too! Here's a crash course in all things capoeira and don’t be surprised if you come out dancing.

Where it comes from

Capoeira might sound exotic to you, but this Afro-Brazilian art form has secret and humble origins. Believed to have originated in 16th century Brazil, it was practiced by African slaves. These slaves were prohibited from performing any cultural customs and strictly forbidden to practice martial arts. Their solution to these restrictions was capoeira. It’s aggressive kicks and punches were disguised to hide their true nature from their white overseers in the form of beautiful, gliding movements. Held closely secret, with a lack of evidence or documentation, the true origins and history of capoeira may never be known.

What it’s all about

You might have heard of Capoeira being called a dance by some and a martial art, or even a game by others. According to Sean Porter, an instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology Fitness program, the truth lies in all three. It is a game during practice, a dance to outsiders and combat from the inside. You will learn attacks and defenses in the form of almost dance-like movements. This is one of the most graceful martial arts with the performers swaying to music and weaving in and out in complex patterns.

Get the basics right

Music is fundamental to capoeira and all its movements are to the rhythm of drums or claps. Kicks are the primary form of attack and escapes are used instead of blocks. Several acrobatic movements like backflips and handstands are performed by the more experienced practitioners. While performing capoeira, one is never still. Even while doing nothing, you do “the ginga”, the most fundamental of moves, where you move back and forth to the beat, with your arms moving to keep your face protected.

How it helps

Capoeira contributes greatly to physical fitness by being physically challenging, especially since the essence of capoeira is constant movement, thus it can be considered a cardiovascular workout. The movements greatly enhance control and coordination of muscles and build strength through kicks, cartwheels, and flips, while also strengthening the core to give you hard abs and a flat stomach. The mentally demanding aspect of capoeira is when two performers face each other in a contest and bring out the competitive best in their techniques.

Most people who wish to learn capoeira are enchanted by the harmonic movements of its performers. The dance-like movements in this martial art are beautiful as well as deadly. Others wish for something that is sure to be a great work out and allow them to move in all sorts of new ways. Some may even want to learn to hone their mental concentration in the challenge of a sparring match. Whatever your reasons, capoeira is bound to leave you more graceful, stronger and just a little bit lethal. 

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