The spirit of Capoeira

By Alvin Katek

A GROUP OF PEOPLE formed a ring, singing, their voices accompanied by the rhythmic twangs pulsating from a single string, the beating of a traditional drum and the rustle of a Pandeiro. The music is joyful, tribal, and almost hypnotic; giving the listener a sense freedom and elation.

They are celebrating the two people inside this ring engaged in sinuous acts of acrobatics, dodging, jumping, flipping, sweeping and kicking in something that almost looks like a dance. These two however are neither dancing, nor are they fighting, they are playing a game; and that game is Capoeira.

Movimento Simples De Capoeira Sarawak (MSC Sarawak) recently had a three-day retreat for their members at the Kompleks Belia dan Sukan Negeri Sarawak. MSC Sarawak is a group that performs, practises and promotes the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira in Sarawak.

 

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Capoeira is a martial art that sees combatants engaged in sinuous acts of acrobatics, dodging, jumping, flipping, sweeping and kicking in something that almost looks like a dance.

 

According to MSC Sarawak Malcom Wu – or Instructor Bocao, as he is known in Capoeira circles – the purpose of the retreat was to serve as a platform for local Capoeira practitioners or Capoeiristas to share knowledge with Masters and Instructors from outside Kuching and Malaysia.

Malcom had guests come in from all over the world: Professor Malandro all the way from California, Instructors Ligeirinho, Ligeiro and Prea from Kuala Lumpur, Katie from Manila, Ladainha from Hong Kong, and Jabuticaba, Feiticeira and Mia from Kuala Lumpur.

With guests like these at the retreat, Malcom believed it would be the perfect opportunity for members of MSC Sarawak to broaden their minds with experience and knowledge from Capoeiristas that have been practising Capoeira for much longer.

MSC Sarawak is still young, barely more than 2 years old, explained Malcolm. Malcolm’s passion for Capoeira began when he left Kuching to study in 2006, joining Bantus Capoeira Malaysia (which would soon become Movimento Simples de Capoeira) where he would eventually became an instructor.

 

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The game of Capoeira.

 

After his return to Kuching, he decided that he would bring his passion for Capoeira back home and started his own group, thus becoming the first and only Capoeira instructor in Sarawak. His training in KL gave him the opportunity to learn from a group of long- time practitioners from all over world, the same experience he hopes local Capoeira enthusiasts will be able to enjoy at this retreat.

Capoeira, as Malcom states; has a strong focus in community as its roots hail back to a time when it was devised and practised by slaves as something to give them hope and unite them.

With the advent of modern technology, this sense of community can and indeed has extended beyond physical borders as various Capoeira Schools worldwide maintain communication with each other and sometimes even have activities together.

 

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Capoeira breaks boundaries and brings fellow Capoeirists together.

 

Malcom hopes to show local Capoeiristas that this sense of community does not stop at just those who practice Capoeira in Sarawak but extends to all Capoeiristas no matter where they are in the world.

Throughout the three days, new and existing members of MSC Sarawak including newer members from Institut Pedidikan Guru Batu Lintang days participated in short training sessions, workshops with the guest professor and instructors, a sharing session that involved everyone exchanging their ideas and experiences in Capoeira, a lesson in Afro-Brazilian culture which was finished off with a short Capoeira Music workshop at Damai Central.

 

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One plays musical instruments during the Roda.

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Everything was done in a casual and relaxed manner with a lot of emphasis on the participants having fun with Capoeira. Capoeiristas from all levels, from beginners to instructors; were freely mixing around training with each other and exchanging ideas.

Each session ended with something that is probably something that is uniquely Capoeira, a Roda.

A Roda is a circle formed by capoeiristas and capoeira musical instruments, where every participant sings the typical songs and claps their hands following the music. Two capoeiristas enter the roda and “play” the game according to the style required by the rhythm of the music.

Playing capoeira means practicing the application of capoeira movements in simulated combat; the object of the game is not to knockdown or defeat your opponent but to practice your skill and outsmart your opponent. Capoeiristas will employ their kicks, dodges and acrobatics in attempts to outsmart the other. The Roda makes for a very interesting display of skill and finesse, fun to watch and fun for those involved in the Roda. The fun of the Roda perfectly describes the enjoyment of the experience of the camp, playing together, training together and having fun together.

For more information on Capoeira or Movimento Simples De Capoeira Sarawak can visit the MSC Sarawak website at http://capoeirasarawak.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MSCSarawak

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