The rhythmic movement of Capoeira
By Patricia Hului
It is more than just a martial art, Brazil-hailed Capoeira is an art in its own class which is now slowly gathering more followers here in Sarawak.
When Brazilian Capoeira instructor Rafael Barbosa Rosaria came to Malaysia back in 2004 and tried to explain what Capoeira was, he answered: “It is just break dance from Brazil.”
Better known as Professor Rafael among Capoeira enthusiasts, he is now the chief instructor of Movimento Simples De Capoeira Malaysia Kuala Lumpur (MSCKL).
Rafael started playing Capoeira when he was just 6 years old, all thanks to his mother.
His mother was interested in the art but never had the chance to learn it so she enrolled her children into a Capoeira school.
Along the way, Rafael said Capoeira helps him steer away from all the bad things in life and allows him to help his family, in a way .
Rafael also explained that Capoeira was all about freedom with all the elements of music, history, friendship.
“Through Capoeira you are going to make friends from all over the world,” he said, adding that learning this art form also meant picking up a few words in Portuguese as well.
But what makes Capoeira different from other martial arts out there?
“In Capoeira, we do not have rules. It is to please yourself when you are stressed or you have a hard day at work. Then you go to class and you put this all out.”
What they also have in Capoeira, he said, are manners.
“I tried other martial arts before; I don’t have anything against them. I think every martial arts has their own advantages.
“But I like Capoeira because it lets me be who I am.”
He cleared the air on one of the many misconceptions of Capoeira and that was that you needed to be fit or small to practice this art.
“Capoeira is the only thing that does not matter who you are when you in the field, everybody is going to treat you normal like anybody else,” Rafael said, adding that you don’t need to have status or title to play Capoeira.
For this instructor, Capoeira is a collective thing saying that everybody needs everybody.
“I need the people who play the music, the people outside the circle to clap for me and I also need the person who plays with me.”
Looking back to when he first stepped in Malaysia to teach Capoeira, Rafael noted that the cultural differences were his main obstacle.
“When I first came, I didn’t even know how to speak in English and I don’t even know the guy who invited me to come here,” he said. “I think the culture shock was the hardest because in terms of language, we still find our way to communicate.”
He said he needed to adjust himself to Malaysian culture. “I cannot come from Brazil expecting everybody to follow my culture.”
Many years have passed since then, and now Rafael says he can finally call Malaysia home.
So far, 2,000 people have passed through his school.
“Nowadays, it is more common now.”
These days with Internet and Youtube, it is easier to raise awareness on Capoeira compared to 10 years ago, Rafael commented.
“But sometimes when they see all the crazy movements shown online, they get scared. But for us to be on top of the mountain, we need to climb the mountain,” adding that it does not matter how long it takes to master but just enjoy the ride.
“Capoeira is not mine, it is there for everybody. The only thing we, leaders just need to be very careful and strict in how people grow Capoeira,” he said.
Rafael noted that there are people out there who wanted to promote Capoeira because of money.
“When money comes in, things change to another direction.”
For now, he hopes that Capoeira in Malaysia will keep growing and more people will know more about this art.
“People should really just come and give it a try. When you join Capoeira, it will be your life.”
Bringing Capoeira into Sarawak
1993 film ‘Only the Strong’ starring Mark Dacascos is the only Hollywood movie which showcases Capoeira.
It is also the same film that inspired Malcolm Wu to learn the rhythmic art of Capoeira.
He is the founder of the Tabuan Jaya MSC Capoeira Club (Kelab Capoeira MSC Tabuan Jaya) and also the the pioneer that brought the Movimento Simples de Capoeira (MSC) name to Sarawak, earning the prestige of being Sarawak’s first official Capoeira school.
Wu, known in the capoeira circuit as ‘Bocão’ is a firm believer that anyone is able to practice the art of Capoeira.
“There is no age limit in doing Capoeira, it is about if you are willing to try and that’s it.”
Back in 2012, when he first started, his aim was to develop the platform and raise the awareness.
In the second year, he got Insititut Pendidikan Guru Batu Lintang students on board.
“They liked it and they helped me set up a club there. Until today, they are still training strong,” Wu said, adding that he also set up training programmes with Salvation Army Boys Home, which 12 kids training under him.
“Since the first year we started, I have been saying I want to have Capoeira to be included in Physical Education system in Kuching or Sarawak.”
Wu wanted this in order that students to be exposed different form of exercises.
He also explained that Capoeira was all about bodyweight, agility, mobility training.
“When you train in Capoeira, you will train three things at the same time, agility, flexibility and strength.”
Thus, Wu found Capoeira a good foundation for kids even if they did other sports such as tennis, badminton, football, or dancing saying that the foundation benefits them in any area anywhere.
“Capoeira is something that fit into your own body, like a special suit. So whenever you play Capoeira, no matter what size you are, Capoeira will compliment you.”
Life Evolution for Capoeira’s practitioners
Full-time designer and part time designer, Leonard Siaw was one of Wu’s first students in Kuching.
“When I was a kid, I enjoy playing Tekken. One of the characters of that game got my attention: Eddy.”
The 28-year-old said since there were no Capoeira class in Kuching back then, he picked up break dancing because he thought they were similar.
“Capoeira changed my life in the way I see things, the way I handled stuff around me.”
He shared that he uses Capoeira movement in his daily life like picking up things on the floor.
“For me, it makes simple movement like this easier,” he said.
Sean Trevena, Urban A.P.E Athletic Performance Enhancement’s instructor watched Wu’s students come and go from the studio for their class.
“The biggest thing that I have noticed from the evolution of Malcolm’s students is that a lot of them were very stiff and rigid.
“Then when you see them four to five months down the line, they are moving beautifully, their flexibility improves, they are just happier people.”
Watch this page https://www.facebook.com/MSCSarawak for more updates on Capoeira in Kuching.