If you are thinking about starting capoeira but you’d like to know what’s really in it for you beyond the hype, read on to discover what you can expect in terms of fitness and health, and we are not talking just in physical terms. Indeed, the objective of the game of capoeira is not the defeat of the adversary but the display of the players’ skills in a physical dialogue, in that it requires skills beyond strength. Capoeira is more than exercise for fitness, it is a form of performance art that through moves and countermoves displays and shares personal skills as means of self-expression.
Capoeira as all martial arts demands commitment and dedication to master, in exchange it provides great overall physical form, community fostering and cultural enrichment.
As regards the fitness benefits, the main muscle groups involved in capoeira are:
- Abdominals (front and lateral): powering all the kicks
- Upper body (triceps, biceps, trapezius): supporting all the handstands and floor movements
- Lower body (quadriceps, hamstring, gluteus): no other physical activity relies on these muscle groups as much as capoeira, because its basic movements and in-betweens are all based on the “squat” position (yes ladies this help to keep side B nicely toned and uptown).
After the first class you might feel like the the soreness is leading you to discover new muscles in your body, but it is a temporary state, within a week of training all you will feel after class is the exhilarating endorphins rush.
The benefits of capoeira are not just limited to muscle tone and strength:
- Balance: to master body control for complex and instant movements.
- Flexibility: to stretch long muscles and strengthen the small ones in order to maintain and increase the range of movement. required by the movements.
- Cardiovascular endurance: to power up efficiently short but frequent and intense periods of play.
- Muscular endurance: to sustain repeated contractions and apply force to a sequence of different moves.
- Agility: to continuously change the movements direction, there are no katas here, every game is improvised.
- Speed: to outperform your adversary.
- Coordination: to respond with movements involving arms, the trunk of the body and legs, all at once.
- Rhythm: the game is led by music and singing and the pace and form of the game must match the music’s rhythm.
And for those who like to keep track of things: one hour of capoeira burns about 500 calories.
Beyond training, the jogo itself, that is the game palyed in the roda (the circle that is formed by all the capoeiristas to play and sing) has several distinctive benefits for the mind:
- focus, to concentrate on the adversary’s challenges
- reflexes, to be ready and swift in countermoves and defense
- creative thinking to be adaptive to different game strategies and tactics
- audacity, given by the improving ability to perform acrobatic movements
Everyone can practice capoeira according to their ability and inclination. Capoeira is not advised for people who suffer: substantial heart condition, those with spinal cord and knee ligaments problems can practice under doctor supervision.