2017-02-16 / Community

Capoeira is about mastering the craft and mastering yourself


James Green conducts a capoeira class at Estero Recreation Center. 
Staff | staff@swspotlight.com James Green conducts a capoeira class at Estero Recreation Center. Staff | staff@swspotlight.com James Green has a hard time viewing his class as a fitness class, even laughing when he is called a fitness instructor. The fitness aspect has become a byproduct or a result of his passion, the Brazilian martial art called capoeira, which combines dance, acrobatics and music.

Green has been practicing capoeira for 11 years and instructing since 2016. He teaches the two main categories of capoeira which were developed in Brazil between the 1920s and 1970s: Angola and Regional. Angola is the more traditional style; the movements are more fluid and lower to the ground, and the idea is to move with another person in a circle as though you are playing a chess game. Regional is closer to the fighting style of capoeira, with kicks and acrobatics mixed in with the traditional movements. It is done at a more accelerated pace, which helped launch capoeira into the mainstream culture in Brazil.

At first sight, capoeira is intimidating. Capoeiristas, or practitioners of the martial art, play music and learn Portuguese while learning movements that combine skills that require fine body control and function. Acrobatics, dance and technique are valuable in this sport. This is a level of athleticism reserved for gymnasts or longtime dancers. But, to Green, “Capoeira is for everyone. Not everyone is for capoeira.” This is an exercise, a passion, that anyone can pick up. The idea is to approach capoeira with complete open-mindedness, or an empty cup.

That open-mindedness also includes a willingness to lead a healthy life so that the capoeira practice becomes easier as students continue. Green recommends that students maintain their normal fitness routines while practicing capoeira. He urges them to eat well and stay active. If one of his students is already a runner or a weight-lifter, then he encourages that person to continue. Much of what he does outside of capoeira makes the practice easier, such as running 5Ks throughout the week and lifting weights. This in turn makes it easier for him to instruct his students.

“One thing that I never realized until I looked back on it is how much stronger and more confident I am as I go forward,” Green says. He surmises that much of the fitness does not stem from the physicality of capoeira. It’s the mentality, the confidence to try something new, to be bad at it for a while, and to persevere and become better. The goal of a capoeirista should not be just to master the craft, but also to master yourself.

For more information or to attend one of Green’s classes, call the Estero Recreation Center at 239-498-0415.

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