Get Into Shape with Capoeira
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 15:05
This is not a typical dance class, but rather a regular evening fitness class at the Lion’s Pride Kung Fu Academy in Long Beach, Calif. Called Capoeira, it’s a two-hour long game that works almost every muscle in the body. Part martial arts, part gymnastics, part dance and part music all combined into one game, in a Brazilian art form.
The game is played between two people at a time. The players exchange defensive and offensive moves, with or without physical contact. The Capoeirists (people who play Capoeira) and spectators create a circle around the two players.
With summer right around the corner, time is running out to fight the battle of the bulge. If you are stuck in a fitness rut, don’t sweat it. The game of Capoeira packs in so much intense cardio that those unwanted pounds would be off in no time. We all know it’s easier to lose weight when you are having fun doing it.
“If you are a dancer, Capoeira is a dance; if you are a musician, Capoeira is music; if you are a fighter, Capoeira is a martial art; you won't learn anything that isn't part of you already,” said Professor Contra Mestre (Master) Xara, class instructor.
People come to Xara’s class for the workout, but eventually they end up learning that it is more than just a workout - it is a culture. It's not just about coming, sweating and leaving. Xara’s main goals are to make sure his students have a great time, learn about the culture of Capoeira and Brazil, meet new people and make lasting connections.
“A lot of people have compared Capoeira to break dancing,” explained Amy Klim, CSULB alumnus and current Capoeira student. “It’s not really comparable to any other martial art because it has the dance part, too.”
One day at age 14, Xara walked outside of his house in Brazil to go play and saw his neighbor playing an instrument and fell in love with the sound of it. From that day on, he began researching this mystery instrument.
He discovered the instrument belonged to the game of Capoeira and is called the berimbau. It is shaped like a hunter’s bow with a varying sized ball attached to it. The berimbau has been used by African decedents in Brazil for hundreds of years and is the most important instrument associated with Capoeira.
The music is performed when two capoeirists face each other in a circle made up of onlookers, fighters and musicians. As the moves are similar of dance, the music helps the fighters keep rhythm and adds to the atmosphere of the occasion. At a Capoeira game, there are usually three berimbaus playing.
Xara has over 17 years of practice in Capoeira. He has 10 years of teaching experience and has educated beginners as well as advanced students from all types of fitness backgrounds.