I’m not a very athletic person and not fit enough to run/jog all the way from here to the train station (which is a ten minute walk, so not very far). After I stopped horseback riding at the local riding stable – which was full of funny ponies – because of school in the afternoon I hadn’t been involved in any kind of sport. Sure, I tried to go for a run every now and then, but it was not my cup of tea. I’d always wanted to try martial arts (looks cool, is useful for self-defense, and enhances one’s discipline) but somehow I never picked myself up and went to that aikido class.
Then a friend of mine introduced me to capoeiratwo years ago. What I really like about capoeira is that it is a training for many things at the same time – timing movements with the rhythm of the music and the movement of other people, sharpening one’s reflexes, and improving balance. Then there is building muscles everywhere, stretching a lot while warming up, and enhancing one’s flexibility bit by bit to get ready for some acrobatics. It’s great to know how to evade kicks and how to do high kicks without falling over afterwards (though I’m still working on that). Maybe it’s not exactly self-defence in the classic sense, but enough to feel a bit more confident when walking around at night! What’s also nice about capoeira is the inclusive training. The groups for training normally accept people regardless of sex, age, or weight (okay, there might be special groups for kids; I’m talking about everyone old enough to make it to the training on their own in the evening). Where I go there is not real line between beginners and advanced learners. Sure, the more advanced folks go to other training sessions in addition, but some of them come to the beginners’ lessons as well to stay in shape, have fun, and help us to work on our technique. Although we train as a group I don’t have to focus on all people at the same time because we often do exercises while standing in two lines or following each other (meaning I can concentrate on the trainer or the person in front of me and mimic their movements), and we do partner exercises which I really enjoy. So I get a nice balance of being around people and at the same time not overwhelming myself the way I maybe would in team sports. In addition, unlike other martial arts it’s not all about throwing people to the floor or really landing the kicks, and more about question and answer – attack and evasion. It’s pretty playful, actually, and often even referred to as a game, but don’t let that blind you – it’s really exhausting as well :)