What is Capoeira?
Capoeira is not only a Brazilian martial art, it is part of the Brazilian history and in 2014 it was awarded the title “World Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO and is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Capoeira is not practised alone and communication within the group is vitally important. A good Capoeira game is only possible together with other players; it is not about winning but about being together. A successful roda (circle) requires the "individuals" to form a group so that awareness for tolerance and mutual respect is created naturally. Capoeira is never frustrating because there is no competition among the players. It is much more about overcoming personal limits. As music plays a vital role almost everyone will find his/her place in Capoeira; the acrobats, the fighters, the dancers and the musicians.
Nowadays, the Portuguese language is widely spread through Capoeira.
The children and young people living in the rainforest are mostly cut off from society. They have no opportunity to attend extracurricular activities and classes because there is no public transport into the city and it is too far to walk. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs find their way to the remote rainforest villages and there is a danger that children and adolescents with little future prospects and lack of meaningful leisure activities will fall victim to alcohol and drug use.
Capoeira lessons are new to the youngsters who live isolated in the rain forest and they are happy to take part in an activity together with their friends. Discipline is a basic requirement for participating in the lessons; it is not only the behaviour during practice but also beyond the lessons that counts. If they are caught skipping school for example, they risk being excluded from the lessons for a certain period of time. Contra Mestre Cebolinha teaches in the rain forest as well as in the city and with joint “Rodas” the rain forest and city children have the chance to get together and get to know each other. The Capoeira uniform strengthens the bond and they are all Capoeiristas regardless of their background.
Contact with the Capoeira kids also allows us to reach out to their families enabling us to communicate how important it is to preserve the last bit of the rain forest - their living space.