May and Silvio demonstrating the "ginga"

Ben trying the "ginga" with May

Ben trying to trip Sylvio up

How's that for a headstand!

Maya and May have a play

Jam session

I took the kids to the first day of the Capoeira workshop for beginners at the Om Shiva Yoga Studio today. As we walked in I was immediately struck by the amazingly fit, toned bodies of the two instructors, Sylvio and May. These people are dedicated to their art form and they are totally in command of their bodies. As they described the history and culture of Capoeira, I realised that it was far more than a simple martial art.

If you haven't heard of Capoeira, it is an art form from Brazil, developed by the African slaves some 300 years ago as an expression of their repression. It incorporated elements of dance, martial arts, play, and is always done to the rhythm of the berimbau (a single stringed instrument) and accompanying instruments. It cannot be pigeon-holed as a martial art, a performing art or a sport, but has elements of all these things. The moves are incredibly graceful and it is beautiful to watch the two opponents moving together very closely without actually touching.

As we found out today, there are many many moves to learn, but the basic ones are actually fairly simple. They do take some coordination though, but the kids handled the pace and totally enjoyed the learning experience. It was great for their confidence too, as Maya discovered that she could actually do a decent cartwheel!

We learnt the most basic move, the ginga (literally means “swing”), and as Sylvio told us, "no ginga, no Capoeira". Until you have learnt to flow with the rhythm, you cannot hope to play good capoeira. We also learnt a kicking move, a couple of moves to counteract the kick as well as a traditional stick fighting dance called the maculele. All the moves flow into each other to make a rhythmical dance.

Most people taking the workshop were complete beginners, and ages ranged from 5 years (Ben) to a woman in her 60s. It is quite a physically challenging activity, and the kids were worn out after 90 minutes. But it was great fun, and Sylvio and May were wonderful with the children. Afterwards Ben asked if he could play the drum, so a spontaneous jam session ensued. It was a lovely way to finish a very inspiring couple of hours.

100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992
(next to Picotin, Sylvia's Secrets, and Rider's Lodge)

Call 6466 2257 for details of future workshops.


Anonymous said... @ January 18, 2009 at 8:48 PM

Ahh, since I arrived in Singapore 2 years ago i always wanted to finally start Capoeira, i never managed to go... I wish I had known about the beginners workshop, you know about any classes?

Milly said... @ January 19, 2009 at 1:12 AM

Well then you've got to try to get to a class! There are beginners classes at the YMCA near Douby Gaut, go here for details:
Good luck!

Anonymous said... @ January 19, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Thx so much... will definitely do so..

Anonymous said... @ January 29, 2009 at 8:54 PM

Hello Milly!
Great post about the workshop! Glad you and the kids enjoyed yourselves. We'll be opening beginner's classes tentatively starting 11 Feb 2009. Classes are on every Wednesday 6pm and every Saturday 12noon. Fees will be $90 for 4 classes a month or $160 for 8classes a month. If you or anyone you know might be interested, you know who to call! =)

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