Give it a Try!

Emily O'Dell striking a capoeira pose in Cappadocia...

Capoeira is for men, women and children; the only ones who don’t learn it are those are those who don’t wish to.

– Mestre Pastinha

Doing some Kremlin capoeira...

I love capoeira. This Afro-Brazilian martial art has shaped my life in more ways than I can mention in a simple blogpost. For me, each moment and each step is an expression of capoeira. That’s why I have to take my capoeira with me on the road–as I go cartwheeling around the world.

Capoeira really is for everyone. I’ve played capoeira with 6 year olds, who showed me up with their back handsprings, and 80 year-old masters–who can take down any buff young man with just a simple swipe. I’ve played capoeira with people of every shape and size–including little people and amputees. There really is no barrier to learning capoeira, other than not wanting to learn it.

If you watch this video of a fierce amputee playing capoeira, you’ll see that having a physical limitation doesn’t have to be a barrier to learning how to fly.

Training in capoeira in Colombia...

And if you check out this video of a young blind man playing capoeira, you’ll see that not even sight is necessary to throw a fierce kick (I certainly wouldn’t want to go up against that guy in the roda!).

Capoeira is more than just a martial art–it’s also a holistic healing art, as shown in this video of disabled children learning capoeira in Brazil. While some of us have physical limitations, we all have imaginary limitations (the “I can’t” refrain on loop in our heads)–which capoeira challenges and transforms.

Life is a struggle? Life is a battle?
The player sees that capoeira is teaching him to dance within and
during this fight.

–Nestor Capoeira

Playing capoeira on the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia

If you want a taste of capoeira, you can try following these instructional videos on youtube. If you’ve grown tired of the same old routine on your yoga mat, then why not try doing yoga in motion? After you’ve gotten the hang of the ginga, type “capoeira music playlist” into youtube, and give yourself some capoeira music to swing along to.

Upside down in Moscow's Red Square

But beware: capoeira is both child’s play–and deadly.

It’s kindness–and treachery.

Capoeira is a conversation between two bodies in motion, a philosophy of finding the dance in every conflict.

It is a celebration of the body–and testament to its power.

It’s a culture of resistance, and a symbol of survival.

Capoeira isn’t “done”–it’s lived.

Capoeira has always been rich and beautiful. We find everything in
capoeira: life philosophy, self-defense, art and culture. We find
part of religion in capoeira if we seek it. The word religion
means ‘to re-link oneself,’ so everything to which we link ourselves
would be a religion. We shouldn’t learn capoeira in order to cause
trouble with it, but instead use it in the hour of defense when
necessary. After all, in its life philosophy capoeira is love,
celebration, and also joy.
— Joao Pequeno

Upside down in St. Petersburg, Russia

Capoeira isn’t interested in conformity. Capoeira’s all about finding and claiming your own unique style of movement–since no two people play capoeira alike. Even if you follow the youtube instructional videos, you’ll see that your body has its own way of interpreting the moves. A capoeirista must be equal parts fighter, dancer, poet, artist, musician, and trickster. There’s an old capoeira saying: “valente nao existe”–the fearless don’t exist. As the ultimate healing art, capoeira is the best antidote to fear that I know. If you don’t believe me–try it for yourself.

The flame of this beautiful art is now in your hands. You can dampen it, you can burn yourself or your brothers and sisters, or, afraid of its heat, you can let go of it. I hope that you take good care of your capoeira and kindle this fire alive and powerful, enlightening your life.

– Mestre Accordeon

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