Brazil is a country that is absolutely passionate about sports, producing world class athletes in a wide range of disciplines, from soccer to Formula 1. But did you know that Brazil has a homegrown sport called Capoeira? This Brazilian sport is now gaining popularity in the USA thanks to its energetic mix of dance, martial arts and music. We caught up with Jessica, from Capoeira Brasil to find out more about this exciting sport that is making inroads in the USA and around the world.
Core Power: Hi Jessica, what is Capoeira and what are its origins?
Jessica: Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian dance-like martial art that combines kicks, escapes, acrobatics, takedowns, music, history and creativity. Capoeira was developed by Africans brought to Brazil during the slave trade of the 16th – 18th centuries. Africans from many different tribes and cultures were brought to South America by the Portuguese and Dutch. Once in Brazil, these slaves created new rituals, and distinct forms of dance, music, and martial arts. Many, if not all of the the cultural practices and arts that are commonly thought of as Brazilian have their root in African traditions. Because Capoeira involves music and dance-like movements, many see Capoeira as a dance. But in reality, it’s much more. Capoeira is a game, a dance, a martial art, a way to get fit and a form of cultural expression. It is also an art form that illustrates the centuries-old connection between Latin-American and African cultures.
CP: How did you get started in Capoeira?
J: I have been dancing since I was a little girl. In college I fell in love with Capoeira because it was graceful but strong and it brought me closer to my Brazilian roots (I am Brazilian-American). However, most people that practice Capoeira in the United States are not Brazilian, they’re from all over. Capoeira is truly a global sport/martial art.
CP: How do you train for Capoeira events?
J: Capoeiristas train year round because there are events called Batizados all year long. Batizados are Capoeira festivals/conferences that last a few days and culminate with a graduation/belt ceremony. My training regimen is consistent throughout the year, but there are times when I focus more on conditioning and strengthening and other times that I focus on refining my movements and game strategy. Capoeira is like a physical game of chess, you’re trying to outsmart and take advantage of your partner’s weakness, all in a very creative and playful way.
CP: What’s your daily fitness routine/diet?
J: I teach about 4-6 Capoeira classes per day. I typically train with my beginner and intermediate/advanced classes. For specialized training I attend Batizados and workshops throughout the country, and also internationally. As far as diet is concerned, I eat a lot of salads, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and grilled fish. Many small meals is what works for me. I love healthy snacking, so a cold Core Power high protein shake after my workouts is a very easy way to get my protein in after teaching classes.
CP: Can you give us a quick Capoeira workout that our fans can include in their routine?
J: I decided that a video would work best so I can demonstrate a few basic Capoeira movements.
CP: Tell us about upcoming Capoeira events and how our fans can participate.
In Los Angeles we have our 16th International Capoeira Festival from September 23rd to the 28th. Sunday September 28th is our culminating event, and admission is free! It would be great to see all of you there to learn more and experience this beautiful sport in person. Check out our website for the event schedule and more info: www.capoeirabrasil.com.