Not your grandma’s capoeira
I’m sure you’ve heard of capoeira — it’s the dancy, singy ‘martial’ art of Brazil. Originally developed by the African slaves as a masked form of combat training, as they were not allowed to practice an actual martial art by their masters. I had watched it on numerous occasions in the US always admiring the choregraphy and athleticism of the players, but it never ‘really’ appeared a martial art. I never saw contact or any sparring for that matter — just some people dancing around each other.
Enter Tribo Jeri, the local capoeira group here in Jeri. In the last two weeks I have seen: one stone-cold knockout, one full contact fight resulting in a swollen face, and a foot with two broken bones. Not your grandma’s capoeira.
Every evening at sunset, a roda de capoeira (capoeira circle) forms on the beach, and as the light fades the level of play picks up, and the kids make way for the more expert fighters to show their stuff performing amazing moves, jumps, and frequently drawing contact. The spectacle is exhilarating and makes you high with adrenaline even if you are not fighting. I don’t have very many photos of the good fights because flash photography is a no-no when it’s dark, as a split-second of blindness can result in a knock-out.
This past weekend there was a two-day event called Batizado where new player receive their cords (like a belt in Karate) and others change cords (troca das cordas). My buddy Chibiu was one of the players getting an upgrade, and as part of the tradition, they have to fight the more expert players in the group, who heckle them and try to take the person getting his or her chord changed down a notch. Wesley, who became mestre, broke his foot when mestre Avila, one of the founders of Tribo Jeri, baptized him with the ground….