Capoeira in Auckland



Since I was in Auckland for a while, I decided to meet up with one of the Capoeira groups in town and get an idea of how other schools of Capoeira do it. I wasn’t actually sure what “it” was, but I figured that every school would have some subtle differences in how they trained and in what moves they primarily used, and so I was really excited about getting a chance to meet up with some new people. Mostly, I was looking forward to seeing how well I could play against these new people, and seeing whether or not Pontual’s training regime really is the hardest in the area.

What I learned instead, was… interesting, but a bit confusing and intimidating. The school that I ended up choosing to go to (via Google-search results) was focused on Capoeira Anguala, or the “original” form of Capoeira (Ed Note: See Ben’s earlier post about Capoeira for reference links). The main difference, as far as most people will see between Anguala and Regonal, the style that I had mostly learned in, is the tempo of the game. In Anguala the Capoeiristas move much slower, and thus stay much lower to the ground, thus requiring a huge amount of core and upper body strength to hold yourself up… and this left me sweating and panting as we moved through the training exercises.

I loved it, but playing the game itself as Anguala was difficult for me, and the format of the class itself was a bit alien to me as well, as they incorporated a huge amount of music into the lesson. With Pontual, we would usually have a simple iPod setup playing music in the background while we trained – both to help us keep focused, and to give us a tempo to move to. However, the Auckland group made significant use of live music, having each of us rotate between training and playing the background music. It was actually quite difficult for me, since I’m still quite new and not very good at playing and singing at the same time. But it did give a bit of a different energy to the circle and the training, knowing that there was someone watching and playing the music for us.

My biggest challenge came when we actually formed up the roda at the end of class, and started playing against each other. Instead of the normal unstructured single roda that Pontual would start up, we instead set up two rodas, with one person playing a Pandeiro in between. This wouldn’t be too bad in and of itself if the class was large, and had enough people to really support two circles, but unfortunately the class was only five people – meaning that the roda only consisted of the people playing against each other. And that meant that no one really got a break for playing; which, combined with the fact that I wasn’t used to such slow and muscular movements, meant that I was huffing and puffing quite quickly.

I did learn that, as you would imagine, many of the people who played anguala didn’t really know too many of the higher kicks or more dynamic movements. Many of the students didn’t even seem to know Keshada, my best kick, and so I was able to hold them back pretty well by putting that into my game every so often.

Overall I really enjoyed this little peak into the world of another group, but I think it just reinforced how much I do like Capoeira Regonal over Capoeira Anguala – I still think that everyone should train both to an extent, but I find Regonal to be a bit more applicable to my life thanks to the speed and fluidity of the movements.

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