GUEST BLOG: Kids Capoeira

In my effort to keep the blogging regular (and for your reading entertainment), I will have guest bloggers post here from now on too with what they know best.

First guest blogger is Zen Humpage, awesomely known as Professor Berimbau who teaches Capoeira in Hong Kong.  Having been a fitness professional for over 7 years in Hong Kong, Zen also brought his extensive knowledge and skills of his passion for Capoeira.  Despite being from Canada and being half Japanese, Zen is fluent in portuguese (speaking and singing), rather than doing what most gwai-lohs in Hong Kong do after 7 years of residency – and that is to learn Cantonese to save his life…from a deranged cab driver.  I met Zen at the International TRX Instructor Asia Summit back in 2010, where all of us TRX Course and Master Instructors come together annually from different regions in Asia and Australia, to share for growth, motivation and pure fun.  What else can I tell ya? Don’t let his jokes fool you, he really is a ninja but he covers up being a “sexy break dance fighter”.

OH and when he isn’t busy with Personal Training and Private Group Training, he teaches Capoeira for adults in Victoria Park throughout the week and Capoeira for kids at Flex Studio in One Island South (Aberdeen).  You can give him a shout at zenberimbau@me.com

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By Zen Humpage

Hello everyone!   Time for another blogpost about capoeira on how it is great for kids, and how it builds what most other team sports and martial arts do not at a base level.  To explain this, we need to look at capoeira as an activity as well as analyze team sports and martial arts on what they do.

Kids Capoeira with Berimbau
Kids Capoeira with Berimbau

Team sports such as soccer, football, rugby, baseball, obviously work on the team building aspect of each sport, while at times helping to build each person’s capability to grow as they are within the sport.  However, in many team sports from my own personal experience as a child, ALL of which I was never good at, simply because no one ever explained the rules to me, and secondly not all coaches took the time to build each team member due to larger teams where many kids slip through the cracks and never got the full experience.

Capoeira Kids at Flex Studio
Capoeira Kids at Flex Studio

Most martial arts are focused mainly on the individual and don’t always help to build a community.  Indefinitely, it does work on building confidence in each child, despite many kids not always having the opportunity to shine physically, most martial arts focus on the combative aspect of the sport.

Berimbau demonstrating at Flex Hong Kong
Berimbau demonstrating at Flex Hong Kong

Now back to capoeira.  What is capoeira?  It is a martial art that combines self-defense, acrobatics, live music, and dance into a vigorous game of ritualized combat.  It is practiced in its entirety inside of a roda(circle) where each practitioner is allowed to “play” the game.  This game exercises the basis of self-defense, as well as showing the dexterity of each player and their own personal way to express themselves inside the roda.  It takes great care, training and effort in order to execute many of the movements in real-time during a roda, so the confidence of a person soars as they discover how to integrate newer sequences of movements into a game.  A roda also integrates live musical instrumentation and song into this atmosphere, so everyone follows the music, sings, claps and plays the instruments together in a joint effort to maintain, as well as to raise the energy of a roda – this is a very important aspect of building a team.

Music and Singing with Professor Berimbau

This entire ‘situation” so to speak seems quite complicated, yet it is so engaging and inspiring for anyone.  Many kids do one, if not several sports during a year while also taking music lessons, dance lessons, art, etc.  Capoeira encompasses ALL of those things into one class, many of my child students learned to speak Portuguese as well!  Ultimately, they learn to defend themselves, they learn to sing, play musical instruments, execute acrobatic movements ranging from cartwheels to backflips to head spins, they even learn Brazilian folkloric dances.  Now that is not bad at all for an hour for twice a week.  There is never an off-season, so we practice daily, weekly monthly, yearly together.

Capoeira Kids age 9-12 at Flex Studio
Capoeira Kids age 9-12 at Flex Studio

Me personally, when I teach I love to point out the strengths of each student to the entire class as we go along.  Why?  Let’s face it, not every kid is going to become an amazing capoeira player.  Many of the kids wind up doing quite well, even exceptionally well, while most of the kids are there for the sake of participation, which I do not mind that at all.  I love it.  For one I get to know all these great kids, and secondly, I get to show how amazing these kids are and tell their friends in front of them just how great a certain aspect of a child’s personality is. It’s great to see the quiet smile on a kid’s face when you tell them how great they are right now and how they should never lose that quality of their personality as they grow older.

Zen Berimbau Capoeira Hong Kong

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