Capoeira and security: the view from upside-down. By Zoë Marriage

Through an account of capoeira, the Brazilian dance-fight-game, we uncover two simultaneous stories of security: first, the gradual monopolisation of violence by the state; second, a somatic, lyrical representation of a history of violence, oppression and liberation. Continue reading

If you don’t know this, you no nothing at all!

What would you do if someone kicked you a meia lua de frente? Depending on where or from whom did you learn different esquivas will come to your mind. Some might even think about a more combative approach with a cabeçada or a rasteira as an ‘answer’ to that kick. Which one would be ‘the right one’ then? Is there such an absolute answer? I don’t think so, for me most things in Capoeira are circumstantial, thus depending upon many variables. I was tell my students, however, that on a basic level, ‘if it saved your face of a kick or your butt from a rasteira, you must have done something right regardless of how clumsy or elegant your movement was’. Continue reading

Capoeira expands activities in the West Bank with assistance from Brazil

Retrieved from UNRWA’s website on 19/12/2011

8 December 2011
Jalazone, West Bank

Boy doing capoeira“Who is the most important person inside this room?” asked capoeira instructor Daniel Vallejo. “Me!” yelled the group of children from Jalazone refugee camp in reply.

Bidna Capoeira launched new activities in the West Bank on Tuesday with support from the Brazilian Representative Office of Ramallah.

Self-expression through physical art

Eight hundred Palestinian children have taken part in these Afro-Brazilian sport and art form since March 2011.

Speaking to the children, Ligia Maria Scherer, Head of the Representative Office of Brazil to the Palestinian Authority said: “One of our aims is to promote freedom of expression and help you cope with the harsh realities of occupation.”

According to the principal of the UNRWA boys’ school, Ahmad Assi, since last semester, there has been improvement in behaviour and learning among students that have participated in capoeira. “We targeted hyperactive kids and immediately noticed a positive change.”

Benefiting the community

Capoeira’s benefits extend to instructors and parents. Vallejo, or Professor Arame as his students call him, has been training in the refugee camps for the last nine months. “The occupation prevents refugee children from expressing themselves properly. This is where capoeira comes in. Here, we are brothers. The children even come by my house on my days off asking to be trained.”

Amina, whose daughter has taken part, expressed her excitement about the programme: “My daughter is always talking about capoeira. She loves the activities and her instructor.”

Bidna Capoeira puts a great emphasis on the participation of children. In fact, the organisation’s name, “came from children in refugee camps on the Syrian/Iraqi border,” said Tarek Alsaleh, Bidna’s managing director.

Capoeira has been an effective tool for creating solidarity and harmony among participants. “We’re like a family that works and practices together. Even kids that used to fight with one another are now friends. There are rules and we learn to follow them,” said 13-year-old Muhammad Nasser.