Capoeira is a martial art with a difference; it uses combat, music and dance to express Afro Brazilian history.
Capoeira Instructor Fiaz Jaca Cdo explained: “Capoeira originated in Brazil among African slaves. The slaves were banned from practicing martial arts, so they disguised it as dance. Today Capoeira incorporates this influence in its beats and languages.”
Dance is now vital in Capoeira culture. While some classes focus on ‘play’ similar to sparring Instructor Jaca’s Cordao De Ouro class also uses musical movement play to improve stretch and coordination. It was this aspect that first brought him to practice.
He said: “My ex-wife is a dancer and she was trying to loosen me up, both physically and mentally, so she brought me to a Capoeira class. At the time I could barely touch my toes and wasn’t sure if it was for me, but the music kept me going back.
“Capoeira has elements that appeal to everyone. It’s not about using force; it’s about leverage and technique. At the higher level we use the pads and bags to practice kicks and strikes.”
Each Cordao De Ouro class has a different focus, with sessions running at various times and locations across Edinburgh and in Glasgow’s Wellington Church. In Glasgow: on Monday from 6 to 7pm is a beginners group; then from 7 to 8:30pm is an intermediate. Wednesday from 6 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with Capoeira music. Friday from 6:30 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with acrobatic training.
Kids classes are also held in Wellington Church; on Wednesday from 4 to 5pm is a group for 5 to 10 year olds; then Friday hosts three classes: one from 3:30 to 4pm for 5-8 year olds, another from 4:15 to 5pm for 8-11year olds and finally one from 5 to 6pm for those 11 and above.
Adult Classes are £6.50 booked individually or cheaper when part of a block. Beginners get their first class free and can participate in gym clothes.
Instructor Jaca explained: “In class we will start by introducing the new members; then we warm up, practice dynamic stretching and the ginga [basic play] stance. Once warmed up we will move on to partner work, kicks, counter work and basic acrobatics, like cartwheels. This will then evolve into sequences and be practiced with different partners.”
Partner practice is showcased at the end of each class, inside the Roda or circle. Students will stand in a ring and watch two of their peers ‘play’ in the middle. Instructor Jaca explained that the Roda symbolises the world.
“This is what Capoeira is: the Roda, the play in the circle, the music, singing and history. When the music is right it builds timing and improves response. Capoeira is not just about learning the moves; it’s about how you develop as a person.”
As students develop they progress through a belt grading system that uses colours of the Brazilian flag.
Instructor Jaca said: “As the instructor I will monitor the students to assess their level; but no matter the level, every student must show commitment; this brings a sense of community to the group.”
Capoeira’s traditions have now been recognised by the United Nations, which in November 2014 awarded it cultural heritage status.
Instructor Jaca concluded: “Historically Capoeira was about the African and indigenous Brazilian fight for liberty. So Capoeira is about freedom. People rush to Capoeira class to unwind from the stress of the day. If you are looking for mental, physical and spiritual peace Capoeira is the thing for you.”
To find out more or book a class, visit Cordao De Ouro Capoeira website.