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Three weeks have pasted and this is my last week with Capoeira Mandinga Aotearoa and I have to figure out what it is I want to take away from my training. At the moment I am leaning toward the instruments of capoeira and here is why.
Capoeira instruments are disposed in a row called bateria.
It is traditionally formed by:
But this format may vary depending on the Capoeira group's traditions or the roda style.
The berimbau is the leading instrument, determining the tempo and style of the music and game played. Two low pitch berimbaus (called berra-boi and médio) form the base and a high pitch berimbau (called viola) makes variations and improvisation. Kelvin also refers to the berimbau as your other Mestre.
The rhythm is so important to the game that nothing less than perfect timing is accepted when playing the instruments. I figured my guitar playing skills would help me but sadly my percussion skills are horrible and if the players in the middle of the roda are doing something amazing I quickly lose the beat. On top of that trying to sing it all goes pear shaped quickly.
Besides the song and the rhythm there is also the movement which I think is more recognisable to people despite how important the musical element is. Ginga (or swing) is the moving platform in which all techniques can be deployed from. It has two main stances that remind me of some of the kung fu stances I have seen in other practices. The horse stance and cat stance (this is purely an ascetic observation). What makes capoeira challenging is finding the balance between being relaxed but strong. The points where you make contact with the ground as exact and firm and the top half is loose and expressive. Unlike other styles you learn to more on your feet, hands, and head and if you don’t place them on the proper lines and angles this can be very difficult. You become very aware of your centre of balance if you’re upside down and on your hands. And it’s a great feeling when you get it right and the movement is clean and effortless.
The other part to movement is the wordless conversation you have with the other person. In my own experiences with other forms of sparring is that I tend to fight by reflex alone. In the roda you aren’t just looking for openings but for ways of use the movement preferences of your opponent against them. This is one of the great things about capoeira, in the roda you can have people of different sizes and skill levels participate without fear of serious injury and it is so much fun!!
In short I have really enjoyed capoeira the people are friendly and welcoming. The history is rich with characters and stories and come from a place that is so different to our own culture here in New Zealand.
Thanks everyone at the academy for letting me train with you.
For information about capoeira around New Zealand visit this site. http://www.capoeira.org.nz
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