Artistic Workout: Dropping Pound by Capoeira Dancing
Instead of the boring routine of aerobics and callisthenics, try Capoeira as a form of exercise for a change. Capoeira is the Brazilian fighting dance whose origin can be traced back to the nineteenth century. It was invented by enslaved Africans who worked on Portuguese sugar plantations in Brazil.
Capoeira is easily distinguishable from other martial arts, as it emphasises fluid acrobatic sweeps, kicks, and head butts, with a lot of groundwork such as upside-down kicks, handstands, cartwheels, and rolls. Elbow-strikes, slaps, punches, and body-throws are rarer in this sport. In fact, the entire martial art form is more like a dance than any other traditional martial art. This is possibly due to the fact that the slaves had to camouflage their martial arts prowess from their captors. Traditionally a circle, called a roda, was formed around which participants would sing or play musical instruments. At the centre of this circle, two participants would spar with each other.
Capoeira as Exercise
As a form of exercise, Capoeira is a group exercise that will maximize your ‘cardio’ workout. It is a form of exercise that stresses on balance, flexibility, and strength. In an average two-hour session, you will rarely be sitting immobile for long.
Capoeira does not involve brute force. Instead, it is more about being inventive with the flow. A Capoeira exercise training session starts with a warm-up routine to stretch your muscles. The exercise can start with repeated kicks and falls, which will help in developing your thighs and abdomen and building your general stamina. This exercise progresses into more intricate and difficult dance sequences. The energetic kicks, ducks, and twists that make up Capoeira help to increase your agility, flexibility, fitness, strength, speed, and co-ordination.
Music is the key to any Capoeira session. Usually African music is played in the background to give it the traditional feel and recreate the conditions in which Capoeira was originally performed. Common musical accompaniments used are the tambourines or drums. The most important musical instrument for Capoeira is the berimbau. Made from wood, wire, and gourd, this instrument controls the entire tempo of the session.
In a Capoeira session, when two opponents face off within the roda, there are no actual physical blows delivered. Hits are feigned or shown; none are actually carried through, so participants do not need to fear walking away with bruises after a session. Instead of actually trying to block attacks physically, opponents try to evade them. Capoeira is about creativity and spontaneity. Duellists try to be unpredictable as there are no set rules. Capoeira is more like a dance than a duel.
The most basic stance in Capoeira is called ginga, which a person performs constantly in a triangular dance-like pattern. All the other steps of Capoeira build on from this basic step. Both feet are kept approximately a shoulder’s width apart. One foot is slid backwards and then brought back again to the base and the second foot then is slid backwards. This motion allows the ‘Capoeiristas’ to lunge, squat, and then lunge again, allowing them to move around the roda quickly. This movement helps to keep the game unpredictable.
When Capoeira is adopted as a form of exercise, the traditional moves are sometimes modified slightly. Complex acrobatic moves are replaced with moves that are found in ‘cardio’ exercises and aerobics. This form of Capoeira is simpler than the traditional form, and is finding its way into gyms around the world. Capoeira helps in not only building muscles but also toning the entire body evenly. It is an excellent form of exercise and also a great way to make new friends.
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