My friend Roman from Salsa class was talking to a group of us over hot wings and beer. It was a Tuesday night, it had been a long day and my ears perked up at the way he was describing what he does. Capoeira? I’ve heard of it, and even remember being intrigued during my college days and seeing a group of them practice in front of my dorm.
Capoeira (까뽀에이라) is an Afro-Brazilian martial art. Training to fight was illegal for indigenous Brazilians and African slaves once the Portuguese came into power in Brazil. So they combined forces in a sense and disguised their “martial art” training with dance and music, resulting in the capoeira we know today. It was so well disguised, and yet so publicly displayed that the Portuguese enjoyed watching it and would even request capoeira at public events (not knowing it was a training tactic.)
I‘ve been getting antsy with Salsa, needed something new and challenging. What’s more challenging than combining a martial art with music? I took it as a sign once I saw that his group had even made this month’s In-Daegu newspaper.
So Saturday morning I got myself out of bed, slightly begrudgingly, and headed out on my hour-long bus ride to Kyungpook University. Within the first hour I was dying. The mere warm up had me running laps back and forth, and these stretches I didn’t realize my body could do. The amusing part was sharing the gym space with a group of Korean students who were preparing for a dance performance. So all these guys were dancing to 2PM’s “Again and Again”, and doing the slightly feminized dance while I’m on the bare floor with my bare feet trying to prepare for a fight.
Another surprise was having another salsa member come and teach the class! Anton was this week’s teacher, and his first time. He walked us through the initial steps, and to the first style of kicking and dodging. Rare for me to ever hear myself say, “Kick me!”, but I prefered dodging to kicking. The kicks are awkward, you are kicking from the outside in, going against everything you ever learned. And by ever learned I mean from like Tae-Bo or playing video games your whole life.
The class ended with me splitting my skin between my toe and the rest of my foot, a sore back and a tired grin on my face. I’ll be back for more, plus they are hoping to perform some time in June and you know I like those last-minute shows people drag me into ha! So I leave you with a video of a capoeira fight between a guy and a girl. Man if I could end up being half as good!