Capoeira and Community
Twelve showed up on Monday. On the first Capoeira club meeting for the semester at the university, twelve people came to participate. My more seasoned students worked well with the beginners to offer encouragement and support.
Last semester, I also had a strong turnout on the first day. The smiles on the students’ faces revealed they were excited to be part of an enjoyable, healthy activity. Many of the students who began training with me last semester were familiar with Capoeira or saw me training on the campus. They were eager to learn.
By the end of the term, only a few remained consistent in class. Throughout the sixteen-week session, I aimed to push the physical limitations of the students' fitness levels. Some enjoyed the intense training, whereas others became intimidated. I decided to make some changes this term.
Consistency builds trust.
Last semester, the Capoeira club met twice each month on the first and third Wednesdays. I will hold a class on every Monday this session. With a more regular meeting time, it should help students to remember the schedule. They will no longer need to ask, "Will there be class this week?" Instead, they can say to themselves and others, “Capoeira class is on Mondays.”
In addition to changing the schedule for Capoeira, I modified the intensity of the class. After some honest feedback, I realized the class was too hard. Students may walk to school or take one fitness class per week, but that is the extent of their workouts. With being more mindful of this reality, I decided to incorporate more stratified instruction in my classes.
Students with more time in Capoeira were told to do more reps and more complex sequences than the beginners. I reinforced in every student, the importance of moving at a manageable pace. In the weeks to come, I aim to increase the intensity in moderate strides.
After class, many of the students told me that they enjoyed themselves. I encouraged them to return and to find a way to connect with the elements of Capoeira. In our opening moments of the class, I shared with them some of my reasons for training Capoeira.
In Nestor Capoeira’s famous text, The Little Capoeira Book, he shares how Capoeira developed as a resource to unify people of African descent in Brazil. Officials persecuted Capoeiristas for practicing a dance-fight ritual, in part to its connections to the African continent. Nestor Capoeira theorizes that the threat of Capoeira inspiring positive self-awareness among oppressed people supporting the need to criminalize practitioners.
As I start to teach a new group of students, I am proceeding with an awareness of history in mind.
With each class, I aim to share one aspect of Capoeira’s history with my students. This approach to class fits in alignment with my previous teaching experiences in Chicago as documented in my forthcoming book scheduled for publication this spring.
With this post, I want to encourage you to learn more about your profession. Ask for feedback about your performance. Read about the history of your industry and commit to improvement.