capoeira agora blog

Few words from the author (expand)

Hi, I'm Justyna and I write this blog, because there is so much I want to share with my readers.

I have a broad experience in sport, training intensively from a very early age. I practised basketball for over a decade, I qualified as a tennis instructor, I'm a keen cyclist. Since 2000 I have been committed to Capoeira.

Throughout the years, I gained experience in teaching various forms of physical exercise. I have learnt the hard way to deal with difficulties of intense regular physical training, injuries, combining the passion for sport with everyday life and dealing with sometimes not-so-friendly people. It all contributed to my determination not to give up.

I believe that Capoeira art form is for everyone. It can be understood by anyone who simply regularly studies it. Many of us, regardless of our roots, have suffered oppression in life in one form or another. Therefore, we can relate to the origins of Capoeira. We can feel the freedom associated with it.

I have travelled quite a bit to Brazil and visited many Capoeira schools and events in various parts of the world. I have been learning and researching about Capoeira, fitness, health, people, nutrition, well-being, discrimination and equality.

In my blog, I want to bring readers closer to the various aspects of learning the art of Capoeira and challenges one comes across during their Capoeira journey and their physical training. In addition, I write about various events, Brazil and Brazilian culture and well-being. Capoeira prose poems are also to be found.

I hope that my readers find the posts included here, helpful and motivating.

Axé,
Formada Justyna Józefiak

The power of ginga

Saturday, 1st February, 2014 | 11:00

Ginga, a basic Capoeira step, is actually a common word in Portuguese language - gingar [verb] means 'to sway'. In Capoeira however, this swaying means more than just that, it's a special way of swaying. With your body guarded, ready for either attack or defense, you sway keeping your balance in control while keeping a watchful eye on your partner.

Any movement in Capoeira can start and/or finish in ginga. Any movement can contain ginga. And even though ginga is one of the first steps you learn in Capoeira, it is also one of the last, because you really need to have years of experience in Capoeira, to truly understand the power of ginga.

With practice, your Capoeira moves develop, your muscles get stronger, your stamina improves, you become more flexible and agile. You have greater understanding of the art form studying its traditions, history and social aspects. It all affects your ginga. Therefore, your ginga also continuously develops, and it is proportional to your development as an athlete and as a Capoeirista.

For me, ginga is one of the most beautiful, most challenging and most interesting Capoeira moves. It's like one of the greatest secrets of Capoeira. A magic move, which is like a word written in some difficult to decipher language, only to be understood by very few who can read it.

One of the biggest challenges in teaching and spreading the knowledge of Capoeira, is to make another person feel the beauty of ginga.

It is quite common that people who watch Capoeira game say 'Capoeira looks beautiful and graceful'. Those who practice often comment that they feel good after the training (and that they also feel pain during and after the training). I wish one day, I make those who watch or have already embarked on the journey of Capoeira, feel the beauty which I feel when I ginga. Seeing beautiful ginga is one thing, but feeling the beauty and the power of ginga is quite another.

I feel really privileged that the secret doors of ginga have opened for me. They can open for you too. All you need to do is to stay open yourself, be patient and stick with Capoeira through ups and downs of modern life and your training.

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Children doing ginga

Music practice for beginners in Capoeira

Saturday, 2nd November, 2013 | 16:00

Practising music in Capoeira at the beginners' level doesn't require owning an instrument or having private singing or music lessons. I personally improved my singing while on a round-the-world trip few years back by simply singing as much as possible while on the track.

Like most people in Capoeira, I'm not musically talented and singing and playing instruments requires lots of practice from me. I believe that the most important thing, which will make you feel much more confident in singing and playing instruments, is to learn the rhythms and manage to fit the correct beat or words into the 'gap' that it needs to fit in.

The second most important thing is to learn to do both things simultaneously - to fit the words within the given gap while beating or clapping the rhythm with your hands. This could prove difficult for non-musical people. Beginners in Capoeira very often find it amusing how much problems they have with singing and playing instrument or clapping at the same time.

So what about those beats? Well, the basic beat in Capoeira is based on three counts with a slightly longer gap at the end.

Exercise 1

Start for example tapping a table with your hand in four counts with regular intervals between, I'd suggest starting with half a second between the taps. When you get the rhythm going, skip the last (fourth) beat.

Exercise 2

Once you get the rhythm going, try to alternate how you beat it, i.e. move your hand back and forth, so your first and third beat are closer to your body while the second further away from your body. Then try to move your tapping sideways - if you are right-handed - the first beat slightly to the right, second - in front of you, then third to the right as the first beat.

Exercise 3

Change which part of the hand is tapping - if you go sideways, try the first and third tap (those on the right) with the base of your thumb and thumb, and the second beat in front of you with flat fingers (see image A - fingers 2-5). Hold the fingers flat on the table for a bit longer than beats one and three. This exercise will help you playing pandeiro.

Exercise 4

Now sitting on the edge of the table, relax both hands on the edge, touching the table with the back of your fingers and the upper part of your hand (see image B). Do similar tapping exercise as ex.2, but moving your hand back and forth in front of you. If you are right handed, using your right hand, hit the first and third beat near you and the second a bit further away. Then try the same alternating hands. The first and third beat near you with your right hand, and the second beat further away from you with your left hand. If you are left handed do the reverse. This exercise will help you with playing atabaque.

Exercise 5

Now grab a pen and do the same tapping the table with the tip, or even better - hold a book with your other hand and tap it with the pen. Move your pen back and forth. This exercise will help you with playing agogo.

Exercise 6

Imagine you are scraping a carrot (I recommend carrot and apple home made juice after the training - excellent source of good carbohydrates and vitamins A and C). If you are right handed hold the carrot in left hand and the scraper in right. Move the right hand away from you on one, then towards you on two and again away from you on three while "scraping' the carrot with the pen. On the forth count, come back to the top and again on one away from you, back and away. This will help you with playing reco-reco.

Once you mastered those four basic beats on and you are able to sing at the same time, you will be able to quickly learn learn variations and play full rhythm and you will feel pretty confident.

To practice music for your Capoeira lesson, you don't even need the instruments to start with.

Enjoy the practice.

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Vergas and pandeiro

Drawing showing fingers marked 1 to 5 and a part of the hand which should hit the table as explained in the exercise 4Drawing showing fingers marked 1 to 5 referred to in exercise 3, and a part of the hand which should hit the table as explained in the exercise 4.

Post-workout: to eat or not to eat

Sunday, 6th October, 2013 | 10:30

If you think not eating after exercising will help you to maintain slim figure, you should know that actually you will be making yourself no favour at all. Eating after exercising is very important to get your body important nourishment to maintain good health and to make the most of your workout. Having a suitable post-Capoeira session meal, will make a difference between wearing yourself out and getting stronger and better.

What and when you eat after your exercising session are equally important. Aim to replenish both your lost proteins and carbohydrates, and aim to do it well within two hours of your Capoeira lesson, 20-60 minutes post workout is optimal. So don't wait until you get home. Have a snack with you, and after your post-workout shower, it will be a good time to have it. And don't forget to get your lost fluids as well.

Your body needs more carbohydrates than proteins after the work out. But don't go for your favourite cakes or massive portion of spaghetti! It's good carbohydrates I am talking about. Even though some people say it's good to have any carbs, from my experience, I recommend sticking just to the good ones. Processed food doesn't do any good for your system whatsoever, including your thyroid and the increasing diabetes problems in recent years in the UK. I'm a great believer that it all comes down to the right balance throughout the day, but after your Capoeira class – aim only for good carbs.

You need your carbs to replace the muscle fuel, glycogen, which you used up during your training and to prepare for your next Capoeira lesson. If you take it easy during your class, you will need about 30-40 grams of carbohydrates for each hour of your exercise. High-intensity lesson would require around 50-60 grams for each hour of your training.

Protein will prevent your body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy and they will initiate the process of rebuilding and repairing your muscles. About a quarter of your post-workout calories should come from your protein intake.

Remember, don't skip your meal after your class. I want to see you being well and training Capoeira regularly for many years. You must take care of your body by supplying it with all the essential nutrients.

Axé,

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Fish and veg

Energy lost, energy gained

Tuesday, 24th September, 2013 | 08:30

Our Capoeira session yesterday was really good. New space, good energy, great workout. After long day in the office, this is what springs me back up. The exchange of the energy in Capoeira for me, is a phenomenon. You give something, you get something back.

I remember a couple of years ago, preparing our first Batizado was very exhausting for me. I work with my school on my own, teaching every class, making sure everything runs smoothly, and organising all the events. That very first Batizado, was very special for me, so I was putting all the energy and time I had into it.¬† It was going great, and all was very exciting. However, when the day arrived I was totally worn down. I couldn’t even play at the Batizado, as my legs felts like they are made out of led. I don’t actually remember what has happened that day. My body switched off. Great we leave in the era of the video technology. I could rewind the events recorded on the tape.

Not surprisingly two days after the grading I came done with a very bad cold. High fever, cough, sneezing, all came at once.

The following two weekends I had to go to my friends’ from the Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos events in other parts of Europe. I was struggling. I had to adjust my travelling plans, because of the illness, but going there made me lots of good. Some energy was coming back to me. But it was still nowhere near equivalent of the energy I have lost in the preceding weeks.

Half way through the summer, two months after struggling with my cold, I went to one of the Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos encontros. This time it took place in Gualba in Spain. I spent there only 3 days, but the amount of energy present there coming form the hot Sun and nearly a 100 of Capoeiristas was lifting me up by the hour. By the end of it I felt my batteries recharged totally and my cold was finally on its last legs. It felt tremendous.

Axé,

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 Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos roda during the Encontro in Gualba

Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos roda during the Encontro in Gualba

Learning to play the Berimbau

Tuesday, 13th September, 2013 | 19:30

Play berimbau can be a tricky task, especially if you've never played or regularly practised any instrument.

When I was first handed in a berimbau, back in the day when I haven’t played Capoeira yet but just travelled to Brazil as a tourist, I had great a trouble with holding all parts of the berimbau at the same time.

This hasn't improved for quite a while even when I started regularly practise the instrument. It is not an easy task.

Playing berimbau, just like training capoeira movements, and really like everything else in life, requires practise. Lots of it. And don't focus just on the rhythm.

Start with holding your body and arms in correct sitting and relaxed position. This is absolutely crucial. You don't want to end up with a sore neck, shoulders or back pain. And sometimes you will need to play the berimbau in a roda for a long time, so the more relaxed your body is and your posture remains correct, the longer you can play it and then jump into the roda without needing to stretch your sore shoulders and neck.

Once you sit in the right position, learn to move your wrist freely, so your hands can move smoothly and play the tune. Learn to move cabaça to and away from your stomach. Learn to lower the berimbau down and up, as if you were cutting the game.

Once you get the basic grip, practise all the above movements while playing the instrument.

To learn the correct rhythms is important, but what is more crucial, like with any instrument, to get a strong and clear sound.

Start by practising the three different beats:
– ‘tsh tsh’ broken-glass-like sound – when you hold the cabaça against your stomach, touch the stone to the string without pressing it, and hit the arame (a metal string of the berimbau) with vareta (a wooden stick about 30 cm long with which you hit the arame) just above the pedra (stone);
– ‘dom’ – when you hold the cabaça away from the stomach, keep the stone away from the arame, hit the arame with vareta just below the pedra;
– ‘dim’ – when you hold the cabaça away from the stomach, keep the stone on the arame, pressing against the arame as much as you can, hit the arame with vareta just above the pedra.

Practise those beats on their own, then in various combinations of two.
What I like to do when I play,I believe it gives a nicer sound is to move cabaça in and away from the stomach between the ‘dom’ and ‘dim’. It gives a very nice ‘wow-wow’ sound and adds a depth to the sound.

Finally, start practising the basic rhythms – Angola, São Bento Pequeno and São Bento Grande.

Enjoy your practice.

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Estagiária Justyna and Professor Thiago playing the berimbaus during the performance in Camden, London, 2009

Estagiária Justyna and Professor Thiago playing the berimbaus during the performance in Camden, London, 2009

Love at first sight

Tuesday, 10th September, 2013 | 23:00

Travelling to Brazil for the first time in November 1999, was an experience that truly changed my life.

I was crossing South America, starting in Bolivia, popping in to do some duty-free shopping in Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, and get splashed by the Iguaçu Falls in Argentina, to end up in beautiful Brazil.

I entered Brazil from Puerto Suárez, Bolivia to Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, on the border with Pantanal, one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. After spending few days in breath-taking Pantanal, we headed to Foz do Iguaçu, the 7th largest city in Paraná state, Brazil. We had a great day around (and under!) the waterfalls, followed by a lovely evening at a local churrascaria, a Brazilian style restaurant where meat is grilled and a salad bar, where you can help yourself as many times as you want, is truly mouth-watering.

The restaurant, which was very popular with tourist visiting the falls, had an artistic evening programme – a special dance show taking us through the history of Brazil. And what a spectacular show it was! A  Brazilian story performed in a beautiful and captivating style by the skilful Brazilian dancers. Amongst the performers – few Capoeiristas.

The performance found its way straight to my heart. I was done. I was so well done! Towards the end of the show there was also a beautiful carnival style costumes and samba, but all I could think of by then was, what was that thing that just ‘hit me’ (not literally of course!). I must add, that prior to the show I had never seen Capoeira before. It was as if I had found something that I have been looking for, but didn’t even know it existed.

My adventure with Capoeira started there and then.

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Estagiária Justyna relaxing in a hammock during her first visit to Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, 1999

Estagiária Justyna relaxing in a hammock during her first visit to Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, 1999

What can I do at home?

Thursday, 5th September, 2013 | 21:00

I'm often asked by Capoeira beginners about what they can do at home to help them with Capoeira in the class. Training regularly and as often as possible with your teacher and the group is the best way to improve. But there is also a lot you can do at home to help you with your regular training.

First of all, stretching. This is something you can do easily in the comfort of your home and you don't need a lot of space to do it. Don't do long stretching sessions at home, as assigning the time could prove difficult in your busy live, and you would get easily discouraged. I would recommend just 15 minutes of stretching daily (but not before 5 minutes of cardio warm up). You can stretch, for example, while watching your favourite news or soap. Just 20 minutes in total a day, and you would see quite impressive results with time. At some point, you might want to extend your sessions, they would be longer every other day.

It is also important not to push too hard, as otherwise you can injure yourself. Your muscles will stretch and become more flexible with your training, so all you need to be is patient, consistent and positive.

Once you get to a satisfactory for you level, don't stop your stretching sessions. Unfortunately stretching is not like riding a bicycle. Your muscles have memory and it is much shorter than yours, assuming your memory is at least ok. If you get to a certain level of stretching, you will not stay there for ever, if you stop training. Even just to maintain that level you need to stretch regularly, as otherwise your muscles start shrinking back again.

Music is another element of Capoeira, which you can practise at home – singing, clapping, rhythms, playing instruments – none of it requires much space, however don't forget your neighbours, if the wall are thin! Learning lyrics and practising rhythms can be done at relatively low volume level, so those are safe to practise anytime and anywhere even while you are getting on with your daily tasks.

Last, but not least, you can study Capoeira history, Capoeira art's evolution, so to speak, and the Portuguese language. There are many books and online resources about Capoeira nowadays available in various languages. In the era of Internet and mobile apps, studying Brazilian Portuguese, also couldn't have been easier. You can do it while on a train travelling to or from work, or while waiting for your favourite cup of coffee in one of London's many coffee shops.

Capoeira is not just a physical exercise. It's an exercise for your body and mind. And if you need a good motivation to do it all – well, I can promise you that if you are patient and determined, this exercises will pay off in how fit your body and your mind will remain, and how good you will look and feel for a very long time into the future. And all this hard work with time will just become your lifestyle and you will truly enjoy it.

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Estagiária Justyna

Estagiária Justyna

Discipline in training Capoeira

Monday, 5th March, 2012 | 23:30

After all Capoeira is a martial art, itís a dance, sport, way of keeping fit. Any martial art requires some discipline. The same goes to dance, sport and keeping fit and anything else that Capoeira is or isnít.

Training every now and then or once a week is definitively better than doing nothing at all, and also helps you keep in touch with your Capoeira friends, but you might get frustrated with not improving as much as you would like to. It all goes down to discipline and time committed.

If you want to learn a new skill, any skill in life or at work, very often at the beginning †you would attend a course.  After that, you would put your new knowledge into practise, and if you wanted to become good at it, you would have to practise and practise and practise.

In Capoeira also you might attend a beginnerís course to help you with the basic steps and movements, but after the first steps you need to continue regularly to practise. Itís an art form which has a lot for your mind and your body to learn. Your muscles have Ďmemoryí, they have to learn too.

Discipline in Capoeira is not only, but very much, about self-discipline. Your body hurts often, but you will continue. The more you practise, the easier it gets. When you think you will not be able to do that one particular movement, but you keep trying, one day you will do it. If you can do only half of the move, you keep doing that half until your body is ready to learn the remaining part. Sometime you will not know itís ready. It will surprise you and itís the best feeling ever.

If you give yourself a chance and be patient, and respect your body, you will see results. Do today what you can do today, do tomorrow what you can do tomorrow. Eventually one day you will do the lot. 

It might happen that one day during the course of your traineeship, after many  regular trainings, you  will suddenly feel you canít do anything. Listen to your body and find a way of dealing with it. Donít get frustrated, be patient. If itís aching, try stretching and relaxing, have some physio if necessary (Capoeira is a hard sport). Also remember, that you can train regularly, but you need to eat well and rest accordingly. Sometimes your sudden inability to do movements (it goes especially to acrobatics but not only), †might be nothing to do with your eating or sleeping, your body just refuses to do what you want it to do.

I never forget one summer when I was 16 and spent two months training basketball. For some reasons I ended up on 4 sports camps with my club. During the training I felt good and in good shape. But the end was a big surprise. Imagine how I felt, when after two months of playing and training, I came back to my regular training after summer andÖ I couldnít throw the basketball into the basket! Whatever I tried, my usual 9 out of 10 was 2 out of 10. It lasted for about a week. I never forget that. It was a good lesson, I learnt that my body has its own rhythm, it sometimes goes Ďon strikeí, as I call it. I realised that my learning process follows a line of sine wave. There will be a peak but then there will be a bottom. But after that there will be a peak again. So I continue. I keep the discipline. If there is something I canít do, I know itís because I have never spent enough time learning it.

Keep training!

Axé,

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Capoeira Agora class

Capoeira Agora class

So what with those belts?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 | 23:30

I was as confused as you possibly are.

First of all, at the beginning, I hardly questioned anything. I don’t know if some of you felt or feel similarly, but I was just taking everything in Capoeira as is – that’s how it is here, so obviously it’s like this everywhere…

As a teenager, I used to train basketball for a club and the game had rules. Whether we went to play with another club, or inter-school matches, in another town or abroad, or whether my club’s senior team played a league or international match, I could follow, I could enjoy watching, I understood the rules. Only the NBA had different rules, but it was still easy for me to understand them without anybody really explaining anything.

I used to train tennis. Well, not so much, but I did a coaching course and I could have taught anybody anywhere in the World should I choose it, as the rules were the same everywhere.

I saw Capoeira first time in Brazil. A couple of men doing queixadas while I was enjoying a salad buffet in some churrascaria (I’m vegetarian). Of course at that time I had no clue what they were doing. I didn’t even know how to spell Capoeira. Once I found out what it was and attended regular training after returning to London, I believed that Capoeira would also have the same rules everywhere. How wrong was I?

Anyway, getting back to belts….

In basketball, when you score from the game, you get two points. If you scored from beyond the 6.25 line, years back, you knew you would get three points, etc.

In tennis you start counting at 15, then 30, 40 and game.

You know who’s number one or who’s at the top of the league or World ranking.

Well, not so easy in Capoeira. There are different grading systems in Capoeira. Not only some styles don’t use belts, but even those that use, have different colours. If they use similar colours, then the combination would be different.

Another example, Capoeira master’s belt is white, but then you will often see a Master choosing to wear a black leather belt instead, to keep the trousers up.

What is going on?

After years of training, you will learn that the belt is really symbolic. However, respect and code of conduct is very important in Capoeira and being aware of who’s a higher grade than you, could be in some way beneficial.

So, the question is, if your school follows one belts’ system and let’s say there is no brown belts there and you meet somebody in a roda wearing brown belt, how do you know who’s older in Capoeira?

If you are lucky to meet somebody from another association that uses the same belt colours as you, but was graded within a different grading system, how do you know if he’s your level or maybe one of you is ‘older’?

Finally, even within the same association, the same grading system, belt is not equal to a belt.

In my understanding cordão is your ‘reward’ for your training or work in Capoeira that you put in within your Capoeira group with the same teacher that you train with. The belts are granted solely by your teacher’s opinion. Some teachers will give you cordão for free. Some will charge you a fortune despite you working with the school very hard and paying a lot for your training. The teacher might like one student more than another, so the students would get different belts, even though they train similarly.

Is this wrong? I feel it is. Can you do anything about it? No. Capoeira is a relatively new art form and it feels like no rules are official, including the grading system.

What’s more, if something happens on your Capoeira journey and for whatever reason you need to change a teacher, your belt literally means nothing. You feel robbed and cheated and you have to start all over again (unless you never wanted a belt anyway).

Well, I’ve seen it all, and much more, and what I can tell you is, if you like Capoeira, find a teacher that you like, a group that you like and enjoy it. The benefits of training and the beauty of the art form are far grater than the belt and opinions of those few people that might cast a shadow of a doubt on your study of Capoeira.

Respect yourself first of all, respect the others, be loyal (as far as the respect for you allows you), be patient and you will enjoy the benefits of Capoeira and its beauty.

Axé,

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Capoeira Agora Grading ceremony (Batizado), 2011

Capoeira Agora Grading ceremony (Batizado), 2011

Capoeira journey, part III

Saturday, July 16th, 2011 | 21:00

I love Capoeira. Those words are repeated a lot amongst those who practise it. But since day one I saw it while travelling in Brazil, I felt somehow connected with it and my journey, that is in its twelfth year, started. The art form looked so beautiful, that I had no idea that the journey will follow such a bumpy road.

Having various injuries never stopped me and I feel it should never be a reason for anyone to stop. Injuries, blisters, tight muscles, are normal if you are active physically. I have been practising sport from a very early age and I have been struggling with injuries and bruises as long as I can remember. You just have to learn how to deal with them and learn about your body and understand it as best as you can.

Anyway, injuries are the smallest bumps on the road.

I’m not Brazilian and I started practising Capoeira in my late twenties. I have come across many obstacles. I have kept fighting. There are many special moments and because of them I feel it’s worth the fight. After all, Capoeira is an art and it IS for everyone.

Where do I find the motivation to keep going? I don’t know. I never questioned my passion, I only questioned people. Sometimes because of that, I had doubts.

For over the past eleven years I committed most of my time, my life, my money to something that is not even part of my roots. Do I question that? Sometimes. But I have learnt a little bit about another country, another nation, another culture and I met some inspiring people. I never questioned that.

If you are one of the lucky ones that stepped on the Capoeira journey and connected with it, if you ever have doubts, take it as a lesson. I constantly need to find a way to get round the bumps on the road, but I learn from each lesson as it comes along. I have yet to learn a lot, but one thing I am sure of, that I feel good, I feel fit and I feel happy when I see the smile on my students’ faces. So I keep the journey going.

Axé,

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Capoeira Agora class in Hyde Park, August 2013

Capoeira Agora class in Hyde Park, August 2013

Training Capoeira on Mondays

Friday, October 29th, 2010 | 23:00

So you have had a great weekend with your friends and you are quite reluctant to go to work on MondayÖ You wish the weekend lasted longerÖ Monday comes, and as it is the first day of the working week, it is not the best day to feel motivated to do anything else. You just want to finish your work and go home. You know that there is a Capoeira class on Monday night, but you feel like you will skip it todayÖ but should you?

Over the years of teaching and training, I noticed that Mondays are not very popular days for training. Probably often due to the fact that most of us feel like I pictured it in the introduction above. The question is though, should you skip the Monday training? In my opinion, don't.

It will be initially difficult to get over the tiredness, which might come on Tuesday or Wednesday, but with time, you will see the great benefits of training on Monday nights (if your working pattern is Monday-Friday). Why is that?

Capoeira, amongst many other things, is about discovering and working on your weaknesses. If you are usually not too active on Monday evenings, or you think that if you do anything on Monday evening, you might be too tired later on in the week, my advise would be Ė challenge it. Challenge yourself.

If you have been training Capoeira for a while, you know by now how great you feel after a class. The exercise and the music add up to a great relaxation, despite the physical effort. Your mind will feel relaxed and physical exercise will help you to sleep at night. You will feel like that on Mondays too. And it will energise you for the whole week. The feel-good factor will give you not only more energy, but also courage to face the tasks throughout the week, whether it will be at work, at the school or in life. In no time, if you skip your Monday training, you will miss it, as you will notice the difference in your energy level in the week, which will be much higher with your regular Monday training.

Have a great weekend and a good training session on Monday.

Axé,

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Capoeira Agora Monday class

Capoeira Agora Monday class

Learning the handstand / bananeira*

Sunday, February 27th, 2010 | 13:00

Handstand requires constant practice. Like with anything in life, and in Capoeira, the more you practise the better you get. Some people are more talented than others, but don’t get discouraged. Be patient and keep going, it will take how long it’s necessary, and you will get there. Once you achieve a level, which you are happy with, you can’t stop. You need more practice to keep the level you have reached. There is always something more you can improve or learn. It’s like never-ending journey.

Before you start make sure you’ll warm up. Start with warming up and stretching your neck by rotating the head forward, moving your head side to side and up and down. Rotate your arms in all directions, then your wrists. Stretch your wrist by putting hands on the floor while squatting and gently put your weight onto your hands. Change the position of the hands so your fingers will point away, towards you and to the side. Repeat with your palms facing up. Stretch your legs as well. For example, while sitting on the floor try to reach to your toes keeping your back and legs straight. Ah, and don’t train your handstand with full stomach!

Start your handstand training next to the wall for support. Put your hands on the floor shoulder wide with fingers apart. Kick off the floor towards the wall with the second leg following. If you can’t reach to the wall, ask your spotter to help you with your first leg (the one that leaves the floor first) and bring it to the wall, and then you’ll follow on your own with the second leg.

When upside down, look to the front – in Capoeira handstand (bananeira) it’s crucial you’ll keep an eye on your plying partner, as otherwise they might try to, for example, to dissemblance you with cabeçada! If you want to look at the floor, do it just with your eyes without tilting your head backwards. Otherwise your back will arch and it will be much harder to balance.

You arms should be straight. Keep shoulders close to your head and push them up (similarly how you do it when you shrug). Imagine you are pushing the floor away and you want to keep it as far from your head as possible, rather then lifting your body.

Keep your body firm. Keep your glutes, stomach and legs tight. Floppy body will come down as quickly as it went up.

With time, when your arms start getting stronger and you’ll understand the basics of the movement and your body memorises what to do (only achievable by frequent practice), try to hold for longer, then try slightly further away from the wall. Balance without actually touching the wall, but stay still close, in case you’ll kick too hard, so you will not fall over.

When you finish your training stretch in order to cool down. If you’re aching after your training, it’s only a sign that you have engaged your muscles, which you don’t normally use. (You will normally ache a bit the next day but the worst will come day after). Don’t stop the practise though. The pain will decrease with frequent and regular training, as your muscles gets stronger.

Remember your recipe for success is to be patient and keep practising! Good luck!

*Please note that the instructions above are to help you with your training. You need to make sure to perform your training in safe environment with the spotter to support you. Capoeira Agora cannot be held responsible for any accidents occurred during your training. By reading this article you agree that any advice you follow is at your own risk.

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Bananeira by Estagiária Justyna, photo by Mark Himsworth

Bananeira by Estagiária Justyna, photo by Mark Himsworth



Bananeira by Estagiária Justyna, photo by Mark Himsworth

Bananeira by Estagiária Justyna, photo by Mark Himsworth

Learning Capoeira acrobatics

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 | 18:00

There are as many upright Capoeira movements as there are upside down moves. Whichever Capoeira style we talk about, it does include some acrobatics.

Acrobatics are any movements that require special skills, such as balance and agility. Bananeira (handstand), au (cartwheel), macaco (monkey jump) are all amongst acrobatics. You’ll learn it step by step from the very basics during the regular Capoeira lessons. A Capoeira teacher should break the movement down into learning stages, so the student gets confident with each level before moving to the next.

It is important to understand the movement and give your body a chance to learn the technique and to remember all what at the end will create the desired Capoeira move, which one can use appropriately in the roda within the ‘conversation’ of the game, while maintaining the fluency of the game.

Attempting acrobatics without preparing your body step by step can lead to learning the movement wrongly and wrong habits are more difficult to correct than learning the correct move from the beginning. What’s more important however, that one can get seriously injured and can jeopardise any training for months to come.

Train acrobatics only in safe surroundings with somebody experienced with you. There is a lot you can do however, to prepare your body better for the acrobatics training at the comfort of your home, without any necessity of a big space or assistance.

Stretching, flexibility, balance and strength are all important in your acrobatics training and you can safely train those at home. Remember to warm up before doing any muscles exercises. Training acrobatics requires patience and discipline. Do your stretching and flexibility training regularly and you will see how much easier it will be to attempt acrobatics during the class.

While training in the class, also remember to warm up before the training and cool down after.

The more you train regularly, the better results you will get, so don’t skip your Capoeira lessons!

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira movement, photo by Mark Himsworth

S-macaco by Estagiária Justyna, photo by Mark Himsworth

Capoeira journey, part II

Sunday, October 18th, 2009 | 14:30

I often get a question, how much should a person train to improve their Capoeira.
The answer, as with anything in Capoeira, isn’t simple. I have mentioned on many occasions before – what you put into the training, you will get back. Capoeira is very just in this respect and will never disappoint you; people in Capoeira will let you down, but Capoeira will not.

If you train every day, you will improve faster. If you train once a week, you will still improve, but over a much longer period. I advise training with your Capoeira academy at least three times a week and then assign some time outside the school days and do some stretching, reading and practice music, playing Capoeira instruments and singing Capoeira songs and you’ll be just fine.

Learning Capoeira is not just about the physical exercise – reading, listening, watching, playing music, etc. are also very important aspects of the learning process and will add up in your training. The better you understand the history of the art form, the better your game will be in the roda. The better you play music and sing, the better your rhythm and balance will be in the roda. All this will come together one day and something will ‘click’ inside you and you’ll really feel what it is about.

Capoeira is like an addiction, the more you ‘dig’ into it, the more you want it. Answer to one question will create three more questions. It’s never ending process of learning and looking for answers. You learn when you start, you learn when you teach, you learn with every class, every roda, every student. 

At Capoeira Agora we take the moment as it comes, we appreciate it, enjoy it and learn from it. Mestre Liminha described a Capoeira game in his song as ‘jogo de agora’. You look for protection in the given game...

You are a person that the past has made you. You play with what you learnt in the past. At the same time, the game of now will teach you something new, however good or bad experience it would be, you can turn it into a valuable lesson, which you can refer to in the future.

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira Festival in Saint Etienne, June 2009 – playing berimbau (from left) Contra Mestre Idylio and Estagiária Justyna, amongst students from Capoeira Sainté, photo by Darci Marciniak

Encontro de Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos,
Maçanet de Cabrenys, Spain

Friday, September 25th, 2009 | 23:30

Encontro in Maçanet was one not to be missed. The event was shorter, but participants could have learnt much more than during some other longer events. The learning was of a different dimension. The classes were focused not only on training our bodies and musical skills, but also our minds, touching a lot on the philosophy of Capoeira and the Capoeira game.

Contra-Mestre Ceará, yet another time, found a beautiful spot in his current home land Catalunya, and organised, together with Mestre Beija-Flor, an event where everybody felt good, during and after the event.

Trobada Capoeira 2009 was attended by the great Mestre Sombra of the Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos (Brazil) Mestre Beija-Flor of Associação de Capoeira Paname (Paris), Contra-Mestra Maria Pandeiro of Associação de Capoeira Dandara (Bremen), Contra-Mestre Ceará of Associação de Capoeira Canigó (Girona), with their students, as well as by the members of the Oslo Capoeira Klub (Norway), Associação Essencia da Capoeira (Orleans) and Associação de Capoeira Agora (London).

Combined with the local art festival and placed in a picturesque village near the Pyrenees filled with the hot Catalan sun, the Capoeira encounter was a very calm, yet dynamic, inter-Academies, yet family like event.

Excellent food and surroundings, peacefulness of the nature and people getting-by with their everyday life, were adding a wonderful balance to the intensity of the training, information coming in and queries discussed.

With the morning and late-afternoon training sessions, evening rodas and various performances for the MaçArt and the local people and the Festival’s visitors, despite spending there just 2.5 out of 4-days, I felt inspired, motivated, energised with plenty of learning opportunities, yet having time to reflex in the sun in the afternoons, exchange thoughts with the Masters and catch up on much needed sleep and relaxation, making the most of the short break away from London with my Capoeira family.

It was a great pleasure for Capoeira Agora to be invited and take the part in the encounter. We wish Contra-Mestre Ceará and Mestre Beija-Flor best of luck with their future work and look forward to the future events.

Capoeira for me, is a unique art form and, despite many obstacles, thanks to the support of the Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos, it is my life. My aim is to pass this uniqueness to my students so they to feel about Capoeira in a similar way and enjoy every moment with it and that’s also what our name stands for.

Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos is a unique group of people and Academies strongly bonded. With regular workshops with our visiting friends - the Masters and teachers from those Academies, and with regular events in Europe and Brazil, our students have plenty of opportunities to experience that special bond, which makes our Association tick and worth the pain and blisters.

Check out our noticeboard for our upcoming Capoeira events.

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Trobada Capoeira Maçanet flyer

Capoeira Sainté Festival in Saint Etienne, France

Monday, August 3, 2009 | 02:00

The event at Saint Etienne was like no other. Yet again, the energy level at the reunion of the Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos was very high and one could see some quite amazing Capoeira games there. There was also lots of good Brazilian music and dance.

Monitor Thiago, with the help of his father and Mestre – Mestre Valtinho de Associação de Capoeira Valtinho da Senzala, got the balance just right. We had lots of valuable training sessions with the great Mestre Sombra, but also those who had enough energy to carry on, had a chance to play some forro, samba and pagode. Dancers were always also present on the dance floor. After many hours of putting the energy in, there was also time to relax on the dance floor afterwards for everyone on duty.

Capoeira training sessions with Mestre Sombra are lessons like no others. His fascinating blend of energy and calmness makes the learning experience an unforgettable one. New questions about the art form are born and some previous ones are answered and I always finish them with anticipation, when we’ll have the next opportunity to learn more.

Monitor Thiago’s student are very friendly and welcoming. On the day of the grading ceremony, his Capoeira friends prepared for him a special performance and his students, together with Mestre Valtinho, performed afterwards. The big group of children, students of Monitor Thiago, sang their hart out to a beautiful toque do berimbau, moving the whole audience.

Batizado was full of energy and good Capoeira and smile was present on everyone’s faces.

Monitor Thiago, in recognition for his hard work with Capoeira Sainté in the past five years, received his next cordão – Monitor.

Congratulations Monitor Thiago! Capoeira Agora wish you all the best in your further work with Capoeira and look forward for your next events.

To see more of Monitor Thiago work, you can visit Capoeira Sainté website at capoeirasainte.free.fr.

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira Sainté festival flyer

Capoeira Dandara Festival in Bremen, Germany

Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 11:30

The Festival of Capoeira Dandara of Contra-Mestra Maria Pandeiro in Bremen was filled with light-hearted and friendly atmosphere. Event was attended by Capoeira enthusiasts and great professors and Masters of Associação de Capoeira Senzala de Santos from around Europe and Brazil, including the great Mestre Sombra.

We worked hard during the Capoeira workshops, learning a great deal from the best, having lots of fun at the same time. The energy level during the workshops was very high, and reached its peak during the Batizado on the last day of the Festival.

Before the grading ceremony, Contra-Mestra Maria Pandeiro, together with her Capoeira Dandara students, performed for the wide audience. The Batizado itself, started with the children’s grading. They were quite amazing and one could easily notice how much admiration for CM Maria Pandeiro and enthusiasm for Capoeira they had. They were also very good. Even the little ones, managed to follow their game with the visiting Master or teacher very well, showing results of their work during the regular classes.

The same goes for the adult students. Even though tired and aching after days of workshops, smile and skills were shining through generously in the sea of adrenaline.

Even though I was aching myself and tiredness knocked in, I couldn’t wait to get to my class and continue practising with my students what I learnt during that enjoyable Capoeira Festival.

We wish CM Maria Pandeiro and Capoeira Dandara further success and look forward to their next Capoeira events.

Further details about Capoeira Dandara and CM Maria Pandeiro work can be found on www.capoeira-dandara.de.

 

Axé,

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira Dandara festival flyer

Capoeira Dandara festival party flyer

Marinheiro só

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | 21:30

When I stepped into the Capoeira river I suspected that on the way I will get to some sort of a big sea. I was wrong. It wasn’t any sea out there waiting, it was a great ocean.

I have been floating on its waters for a while now… Sometime I come across some pirates, sometimes across some friendly sailors, sometimes across a deserted land, another time across a land full of lively villages.

The ocean is intriguing. It is beautiful, but at times unfriendly and dangerous. Sometimes cooling, sometimes very rough. One day it's shimmering like a gold, but on the other side it’s black. It’s not only vast, it’s also deep.

It survived many a time rough challenges of the mother nature and it will carry on surviving… It seems untouched by anything… strong in its powers, speaking to those who want to hear. The longer you are on the ocean, the more you learn to listen and understand it and realise that you are still at the beginning of the stream.

 

Axé

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Brazilian seaside, photo by Estagiária Justyna Jozefiak

Roda de Capoeira

Sunday, May 17, 2009 | 13:00

What is a ‘roda’?

Literally ‘roda’ in Portuguese means ‘wheel’, ‘circle’.
In Capoeira a roda is a place where Capoeira game happens. It’s not a physical place, it’s a circle, created by musicians and people watching a game of Capoeira between two players in the middle of that circle.

When you hear ‘there is a roda…’ it means you will see the above and hear the music.

While teaching, I often receive a question from Capoeira beginners: ‘when one is ready to play in a roda and to have a good game in a roda’?

The answer is not straightforward, because it depends how much one will train and how much they remember from the classes. Maybe some 10 classes and one will be able to follow a game with just a few movements. When one enters the roda first few times, often forgets everything they have learnt in the class. Give it three months training twice a week and participating often in rodas and one will be much more confident in a game and will take initiative. Train less and it will take longer.

Remember however, that one never stops learning Capoeira and throughout many years of training they will have many good and bad games in their opinion, which won’t necessary be good or bad in opinion of their teacher or those who watch the roda.

You can have a great Capoeira game with just a few movements. All comes down to observing and understanding Capoeira art form. Regular training, patience in learning and loyalty to your school are crucial in achieving that understanding and learning to observe.

Carry on training, be patient, enjoy the moment and don’t look how others progress. Capoeira is as unique as you are. How much you will give to it, you will get back. Sometimes in life you give and you don’t get much or anything in return. That unbalance will upset you or influence your health. People in Capoeira, like in life may disappoint you and upset that balance, but Capoeira never will. Train for yourself, because you like it, be patient and your hard work will be rewarded.

Axé

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira movement - au quebrado, photo by Mark Himsworth

Capoeira journey, part I

Sunday, May 3, 2009 | 16:30

To practise Capoeira you don’t need any reasons at all. It’s good for you and it will enhance your life. Full stop.

Like with anything else in life, it’s easy to find a reason not to do something… a headache, a hurting finger, work commitments, being too stiff, too old, too whatever. For every reason ‘against’ practising Capoeira, I could give you ten ‘for’, but I would consider it a waste of time. If you want to believe in your reasons ‘against’, I probably wouldn’t succeed changing your mind. I can only say – give Capoeira a try and be patient.

Capoeira is like a long journey, which will enhance your life, or if you let it to, I would even dare to say – improve your life. It is good for your body and mind, as long as you have a good guidance throughout.

Find a school and a teacher that appeals to you. They should be not just a place and a person. At the school you should find lots of positive energy, which will motivate you and make hungry for more knowledge. The teacher should be also your friend, who respects you as you respect them.

Capoeira is about balance in many of its aspects. It’s a phenomenon that has taken world by storm in the recent years and the balance is sometime interrupted.

Capoeira is a young art form comparing to some other martial arts. You will see some common things in various academies (= Capoeira schools), but even more differences. There are also as many teaching methods, as there are teachers.

Once you find a school and a teacher that you want to carry on with, be loyal.

In your Capoeira journey, your teacher will encourage and advise you to participate in workshops with other teachers and masters. Your regular training however, should take place at your chosen school, with your teacher, otherwise, you will be confused about the art form and you won’t progress well.

There is as much philosophy to Capoiera, as there is training. Keep it in mind. It’s not just a physical exercise and it is for everyone.

Have a great journey! Boa viagem!

Posted by Estagiária Justyna Józefiak
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Capoeira game, Guarujá, Brazil, August 2009, photo by Estagiária Justyna

Welcome to Capoeira Agora blog

Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 22:54

The aim of this blog is to bring Capoeira art form closer to our readers. We will post various tips about learning the art form and insights into the Capoeira world. You will find here some posts about Capoeira lifestyle, as well as recommendations of what to see regarding Capoeira and Brazilian culture and reviews.

We look forward to your comments.

Let the journey commence…

Axé

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For more information on upcoming classes and events or if you have any other queries, please contact Capoeira Agora via email, phone or post and we will get back to you soon.