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By Lim Jing
Year 4, Mechanical Engineering
NUS CAPOEIRA: The NUS Capoeira group performing at the Freshmen Inauguration Ceremony. Joining NUS Capoeira during the summer break, I quickly picked up the Ginga, a fundamental movement whereby the capoeiristas or practitioners of Capoeira) basically move from side to side by shifting their feet one behind the other. Next, I moved on to learning cartwheels, also known as the aú (pronounced as ah-ooh). There are variations to this move of course, but being a beginner, it is already quite an achievement that I could do it at all. As the training sessions went by, more moves were incorporated and hopes of being able to do all those slick moves found in Youtube videos became much higher.
I first heard about Capoeira from my army buddies back in camp. At that time, I did not give much thought to it, much less about learning the art, as I was already involved in two other different sports groups. Well, I guess some things are just meant to be. When I returned from my Student Exchange Programme in Paris, France, I was searching for something new - something different from what I had been exposed to all this while. I was looking for a sport that was not the norm like running, but which was yet a good source of core-muscle work-out with nice slick moves - basically something to keep me in shape. Despite dropping the idea of taking it up a year ago, Capoeira shot through my mind immediately. Driven by my eagerness to do something different, I went on further to contact my friends and finally set foot on my journey to discover this unique sport.
Opportunity for a performance knocked on the door. The NUS Capoeira was invited to perform at the the Freshmen Inauguration Ceremony (FIC). I was a little bit unsure of whether I would be able to pull it off, given my very minimal exposure to the martial art. Convincing myself that it was a good experience, I threw all worries aside.
The performance started with a folklore dance called Maculelê. This is an Afro-Brazilian dance honoring Maculelê, a young African warrior, who wielded two sticks to defend his village against an invading enemy tribe while the men of Maculelê's tribe were away hunting. The enemy was so impressed by the energy and courage of Maculelê that they withdrew and left the warrior's village alone. The dance involved a re-enactment of this story with performers wielding two sticks (grimas) which is traditionally made from "biriba" wood in Brazil. Dancing to the beat of the drum (attabaque) are two performers dancing and striking their sticks together. . Following the dance came the roda (hoh-da) where capoeiristas gather and begin sparring to the beat of the berimbau, a stringed instrument used in capoeira music. The roda is the time where players attempt to sweep each other off the ground and catch each other unawares. As the beat of the berimbau became faster, the pace of the sparring session increased and this was the time where spectacular moves like backflips and flying kicks could be seen,
With one performance under my belt, it has definitely made me more confident about expressing myself through capoeira. I am sure that in the near future, I will be able to come up with a few of those slick moves!