The Olympics in Rio may be over, but your new love for all things Brazilian doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to add a little Brazilian warrior energy to your fitness routine, check out Capoeira; a blend of Brazilian martial arts and dance. The physical and mental benefits of Capoeira are endless and include full body muscle tone and strengthening, flexibility, endurance, agility, coordination, improved focus and faster reflexes. Just one hour of Capoeira can burn up to 500 calories.
Capoeira’s history is extensive and was developed by West African slaves brought to Brazil as a means to escape, survive in the jungle and avoid recapture. For most of history, the marital art was suppressed or banned in Brazil and was forced to be practiced in secret. In the 20th century, attitudes towards Capoeira became less stringent, and in the 1930s, Manoel dos Reis Machado, best known as Mestre Bimba, having convinced government authorities of the cultural value of Capoeira, opened his school and taught his style of Capoeira called, “Capoeira Regional.” The martial art gained in popularity, and as a result, Capoeira was legalized in 1940 and has become a cultural symbol of Brazil.
Capoeira is referred to as a “game,” and this game is played within a roda, a circle formed by Capoeiristas who sing traditional songs and play musical instruments. Within the roda, two Capoeiristas simulate combat and display their attack, defense and acrobatic skills. The winner is then determined by the musicians observing from the roda. In some Capoeira groups, students may be ranked with cordas or cords, similar to the belt ranking system in other martial art practices. Each instructor, called a mestre, may determine his own system of ranking, but the cords usually adopt the colors of the Brazilian flag.
In recent decades, mestres have begun teaching capoeira in other countries. Ruben Lopez is one such mestre. Better know by his Capoeira name, Mestre Vagalume, Lopez became interested in the practice after observing Capoeiristas in a park as a young teen. For the next fourteen years he would train and become a capoeira mestre himself. Three years ago he opened his Capoeira school, Nago Academy Miami. Capoeira classes are offered for students of all levels, including kids’ classes.
If you’re interested in taking a Capoeira class at Nago Academy, the first class is free and there is no experience necessary. Just make sure to come dressed in comfortable athletic clothing as you will be moving a lot! If you find that Capoeira is for you, you’ll want to make sure to get a Capoeira uniform that consists of a white t-shirt and white pants. With practice and patience, you can soon be on your way to becoming a Capoeirista.
Nago Academy Miami also offers dance classes, after school kid care and camps.
For more information visit www.nagomiami.com.
Nago Academy Miami is located at 2656 NE 189th Terrace, Miami FL 33180