Welcome to the school of Capoeira
Instructor Matthew Eales enlightens us about the multi-faceted sport of Capoeira, why we shouldn’t be put off by the term ‘martial arts’, next week’s annual Capoeira Festival and how he’s managed to get whole families hooked – including his own.
Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that incorporates dance, acrobatics, music and martial arts. It was created by African slaves 500 years ago and since then it has started to spread and take over the world, one student at a time. This is the 15th year that we’ve had Capoeira in Townsville. There are different classes for the Capoeira age groups: we have toddler classes for two to five-year-olds, kids classes for six to 12-year-olds, and then we have teenage and adult classes.
My wife and I started training Capoeira on the basketball courts at university. It was just a social thing at first, and then we became affiliated with Capoeira Brazil. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength. It’s an art form that we are always learning from and now our kids are [Hunter, 4, and Jasmine, 2].
Apart from all the amazing backflips and the beautiful singing and all the instruments, the best aspect about Capoeira is the group. I love the team and the family aspect of it. You make some very good friends here – you make lifelong friends through Capoeira. Capoeira is great for families. We’ve had lots of parents see that this might be something that their kids would enjoy because of all the elements: It’s not just about one thing, they get to express themselves with singing and playing instruments, plus doing the dancing and the martial arts side of things. It’s going to improve kids’ confidence, coordination, balance and flexibility, as well as making them stronger for the outside world. By being part of a group and training amongst friends, we accomplish many things and, as a result, many other challenges become easier. And then when the parents see how much fun their children are having and understand what it’s all about, quite often the parents join up for the adult class too. It definitely brings the family closer together.
I think the term ‘martial arts’ puts a lot of people off because they may be afraid of getting hurt, or they may be afraid of a lot of ‘tough personas’ around them. That’s not that case I’m sure with a lot of martial arts groups, and most definitely not with us. It’s an exciting sport and the martial arts is just a small part of it. If you’re thinking about coming down, there’s going to be a lot of people like you who are just starting and there’s going to be a lot of people here who’ve been where you have before. We just support each other and it’s heaps of fun, so come down and try it out. Why not?
Our 12th Capoeira Festival and grading is from October 13 to 19. We bring as many people from outside our school as we can in to teach workshops to our students. It helps them to get a better understanding of Capoeira because it’s huge and has a very deep and long history. So these other instructors give them different insights and more knowledge about that. Plus there are other festival events that people can get involved with. On the Friday night there’s a public performance at The Strand amphitheatre. We’ll all dress up in clothes from the 1920s because that was an important era for Capoeira. Saturday is the main day (the Batizado) when the ‘troca de cordas’ takes place (change of belts). There will be performances of Capoeira, Maculele (folkloric stick-fight dance) and Brazilian Batucada (Brazilian Carnivale Drumming).