Capoeira is a martial art that combines the elements of combat, acrobatics, language, and music. Various dances also exist, such as the Fisherman’s dance, Warrior’s dance and Maculele (dance with sticks), which are learned for demonstration purposes and as part of the cultural and historical aspects of Capoeira.
Practitioners of Capoeira, known as Capoeiristas, enjoy the benefits of strong core muscles, increased flexibility, fast reflexes and improved coordination. These benefits are also complemented with improved self-confidence and concentration as well as endless creativity. One of the biggest advantages, in my opinion, is the countless number of new friendships developed both in Ireland and throughout the world. The hospitality of group events is second to none and there is always a great sense of community.
I recently spoke with Michaela Murphy, a fellow member of Grupo Candeias here in Galway, about her experience with joining the club. A lot of people can be apprehensive about taking up a new hobby. Michaela says of her initial experience:
“One of the first things I noticed about Capoeira was the energy. Everyone loved what they were doing and it shone through when they sang, when they whizzed around doing cartwheels and when they animatedly explained the history of their sport to me.”
Capoeira training does not involve sparring per se, rather it involves a ‘game’ by two participants while surrounded by their peers in what is known as a Roda (Portuguese word for Wheel). Various musical instruments are used to accompany the high-energy singing and clapping. Michaela notes that:
“You sing and play instruments to create an energetic rhythm for the two Capoeiristas in the middle of a group roda. The game relies on everyone getting involved and ends with a smile or a hug or fist bump.”
The music is played through different rhythms and tempos which dictate the pace of the game. These range from slow, controlled ground movements to fast paced games with rapid kicks, esquivas (defensive escape movements) and floreios (skillful flourishes).
I asked Michaela, having made the initial steps to join the Capoeira group here in Galway, what kept her coming back?
“It’s the feeling of community that made it so easy to fall in love with Capoeira. A tough day can be forgotten the second you step into the hall where your friends are ready to play and encourage you to play just as hard. They stop you doubting yourself or standing in the shadows. There’s a sense of being part of a large family. Without much thought at all, you will look out for your group and they’ll have your back in return. You see that to a large extent when going to events like the Candeias Open in Brazil. For example, what seems like a difficult language barrier, is no barrier at all. A deeper understanding, camaraderie and love of Capoeira makes it easy to connect with everyone.”
I also spoke with Yvonne Ní Laife about her initial experience. She has been training Capoeira in Galway for 17 years. She recalled:
“I came to Capoeira classes during my mid-twenties and had no idea what to expect! From the very first class, I was hooked! A martial art practiced to the tremulous beats of the berimbau (single-string percussion instrument) and atabaque (drum) is an art unlike any other. Throughout my years of training, I have gained friends all over the world, learned a new language, can sing in public without trepidation and can samba like nobody’s watching!”
She goes on to say that:
“For me, the fitness, flexibility, coordination, balance, strength and sheer joy I can attribute to Capoeira is incredible! Learning in Capoeira never comes to an end. There’s always some cool new move or sequence to practice, some new song, beat or rhythm to learn, some further depth in history and legend to delve into, some insight to gain from your mestre.”
Capoeira is certainly a spectacle to watch when you witness it for the first time and Yvonne gave me an insight into the initial impression it left on her:
“I remember as a beginner, 17 years ago, how I looked at the teachers in amazement at how lithely they move, how gracefully they can attack or defend, how gloriously smooth they play! One of the most fantastic things about this art is noticing how your own body can change, can learn, can advance to perform tricks and kicks, handstands and cartwheels, attack and defend and become ever more smooth, lithe and graceful in movement.”
Classes in Galway are taught by Mestre Mola who received his mestre belt from club President Mestre Suino Pereira at the International Candeias Open held in Goiânia, Brazil in July 2017. Yvonne emphasises how fortunate we are here in Ireland, and particularly in Galway, to have such expertise at hand:
“We are so lucky in Galway to have one of only three mestres in Europe from Grupo Candeias as our Mestre and teacher and he has nurtured a further three Capoeira teachers in our group here.”
Graduada Andorinha started training back in 2000, at the first Capoeira class ever in Ireland, and she has continually trained to this day.
Graduada Coruja began training in 2002 and says: “It took over my heart and life that day and I’ve been doing it ever since.” She started teaching the Galway City kid’s class in 2013.
Professor Antônio arrived in Ireland in 2005. He had practiced Capoeira since 1998 back in Goiânia (Brazil), training with Mestre Suino, the President of group Candeias. He began training with Mestre Mola when he arrived in Ireland. He teaches a kids class every Thursday from 5:00pm to 5:45pm at the Oranmore Community Centre.
These new teachers bring a vast amount of experience and style to the Galway City classes which take place every Tuesday and Thursday in Creaven House in the Claddagh from 7pm to 8pm.
We are always looking for new members to join us.