AMONG the sports gaining popularity nowadays is capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines acrobatics, dance, and music.
Known as ‘capo’ for short, the sport is gaining ground mostly in schools where there are ‘capo clubs.’
Here’s a very simplified explanation of the sport: capoeira is taught by ‘mestres’ (masters) and thus has lineages—this is the reason for the various capoeira schools around.
Like many martial arts, participants move up through various levels and gain different colored ‘cordas’ (the equivalent would be ‘belts’ in karate, judo, and so on). Capoeiristas are called by their ‘apellido,’ a name that is bestowed upon them on their ‘batizado’—baptismal’ or graduation—which also includes the ‘troca de corda’ or ‘belt change,’ sort of a moving-up ceremony.
An aside: an interesting thing about cords is that the students and teachers make them themselves prior to the ceremony. Lengths of cord are measured, cut, and painted. They are never washed, a mark of how hard the capoerista has been practicing, and old ones are carefully folded and put away.
Kadara is the school founded by Mestre Cicatriz. It has various chapters around the world, including the Philippines. The school here, run by Joseph Pagulayan, known as Coach Leao (‘lion’) had a batizado ceremony last April 14.
Prior to that date, workshops were conducted by Mestre himself and high-level practitioners visiting from abroad including Instrutor Serpente and Instrutor Trovão, and special guests Urso, Kara, and Macaquinho.
I attended the 2016 batizado where my daughter, writer Alex Alcasid, gained her first belt—the crua (‘raw’ or ‘natural’ cord). In 2016, there were over 100 participants, one of the most well-attended.
This year, Alex moved to the next level, crua-amarela (natural-yellow) and received her capo name or ‘apellido’ – ‘Escritora’ (writer).
At the batizado, there were over 40 participants who participated in the ‘roda’ (‘wheel,’ pronounced ‘hoda’). “It’s how you play capoeira,” Escritora says. “And it’s ‘play’ capoeira, never ‘fight.’”
In the roda, they stand in a circle, a makeshift ring. Some clap, sing, and play drums, berimbau, and other instruments, lending their ‘axe’ (‘energy, pron. ‘ashe’) to two capoeristas who execute figures within the ring.
“it gave me purpose and a sense of discipline without having to conform to a certain way of doing things. It also enticed me because of the beauty of its philosophy,” says Filipino practitioner Urso (Jose Manuel Torres).
“It’s not just a workout,” says Escritora. ‘There’s a deep sense of family, I found a family in this community. They don’t leave anyone behind. Capoeira feels patient, it lets you grow into your own style, in your own way, in your own time.”
Capoeira is energetic and graceful, and prescribes certain forms while accommodating personal styles. “You can watch people doing ‘ginga’ (sway, flow) but each has they have their own way of doing it,” says Urso.
It’s perfect for those who enjoy dance and music while learning a useful martial art. For more information, check out the Capoeira Kadara Philippines page on Facebook.
Parabens to all those who got their cords and apellidos! Axe Familia Kadara!
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Dr. Ortuoste is a writer and communications consultant. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and @DrJennyO, Twitter: @hoarsewhsprr and @jennyortuoste