When I came to Hamburg in October last year, everything was new to me: university, my flat, the big city, the people I met. It felt like starting a new chapter, a new period of life. And it felt only appropriate to try a new kind of sport as well. I had worked out at gyms before, but they were too expensive for me now, and I was bored by being on my own and lifting weights. Besides, this was the big city, and there were loads of possibilities here.
So, during the free one-week trail of Hochschulsport, I searched for my thing. I had heard about Capoeira before and liked the idea of doing martial arts – standing up for yourself, learning to control your body. But visiting the beginners training on Wednesdays, I recognized that Capoeira was different, and it caught me at once.
The roots of Capoeira go back to the 15th century, when Africans were deported to Brazil and enslaved by Portuguese and Dutch colonial settlers. It is not exactly known how Capoeira developed – some say it was already common among the African tribes, some say it came up with the beginnings of slavery. But it definitely developed as a form of resistance against slavery and violence and against the belief of white people being superior to others. Besides regular training, the so-called Roda, which is Portuguese for circle or round, is the form of practising and playing Capoeira, and it shows the roots of the sports: The Capoeiristas build a circle, with their backs facing outwards, hiding the two Capoeiristas that play with each other in the middle of the circle. The central role during the Roda is literally played by music, since a couple of rhythmic instruments are part of the Roda and support the Capoeristas’ singing and clapping. One can vividly imagine the energy and hope that the slaves got from these circles, hiding their training and resistance with their backs from their white suppressors. Playing Capoeira brought them together; even if they did not speak the same language, there was still communication – a dialogue that can be playful, light and artistic or that could be a fight, depending on the mood and the individual Capoeirista playing.
The songs, which are sung in Portuguese, also show these roots, as they are dealing with desires, the sea, energy and sufferings. And they catch you – there is not one evening I come home from training without a song stuck in my head, my body being tired, my mind still awake.
So, as you can see, it’s not about dancing, it’s not a just mixture of fighting and dancing, it’s a whole world, just opening up for me now, it’s a language, spoken everywhere in the world, it’s an opportunity, it’s for everyone and it’s a part of my life in Hamburg now.
Capoeira – more than just sports
In der neuesten Ausgabe des Hamburg Event- und Cityguides von und für junge Leute aus Hamburg, schreibt Vera über Ihre Erfahrungen mit Capoeira. Das tbajournal erscheint einmal im Monat auf englisch.
Wednesday evening, 8 p.m., after the weekly tba meeting: “Are you coming to the tube station with me?” – “No, sorry, I’m staying, my Capoeira training starts at 8.30.” – “Yeah, right. Capoeira – that’s some kind of dance, isn’t it?”
Well, not exactly...