[Posted December 17, 2021]
The arrival of capoeira classes brings a new option to the fitness choices already available in Hillsdale: dance at the Portland Ballet, strength training at Crossfit Hillsdale, Strengthfarm, Wilson Pool during the summertime, and the MJCC, and the other martial arts disciplines offered at SW Portland Martial Arts. Biking and running on Fairmount, trails, and Terwilliger Parkway round out the range of activities.
Capoeira melds movement and music into a dance-like martial art with community-building at its core. Now you can see what it's all about in the comfort of your own neighborhood. CT Capoeira Oregon is now offering classes for kids and adults on Sunday afternoons in the SW Portland Martial Arts studio on Capitol Hwy near Bank of America.
Created by enslaved people in Brazil in the 16th century, capoeira and its history could provide the theme for a big screen epic or a small screen streaming hit: disguised as dance and practiced in secret to hide its true identity as fight training, it was outlawed for a time before eventually becoming one of the most well known movement arts worldwide. Cartwheels, handstands, and other acrobatic movements give it a distinctive style and help develop strength and coordination. In 2014, Capoeira was added to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
CT Capoeira Oregon's founder, Mestre Dilaho, is a native of the Brazilian state of Bahia, where modern capoeira was born in the early 20th century. The school also offers classes in St. Johns at Peninsula Oddfellows.
Is it fighting, or is it dancing? Some people call it dance, and there's a significant musical element (which makes it appealing to kids), but Maria Martin, or Instructor Sigana as she's known in class, says, "It's fight. There is definitely physical contact. It builds confidence and is good for all ages."
For the past several months, classes were held outdoors in Beaverton parks. Says Martin: "Capoeira is absolutely an in-person activity. We use movement, language, and singing to practice our art form." Now that pandemic safety measures allow in-person events indoors with masks, the Hillsdale location is a convenient compromise for CT Capoeira students, close to many Portland neighborhoods and not too far for Beaverton residents.
On the other hand, sometimes location isn't as important. Martin says that some students drive an hour and a half from Washington to train with CT Capoeira. "People will travel really far for a good teacher. Our teacher [Mestre Dilaho] is amazing and he’s from Bahia in Brazil where capoeira came about."
Another way capoeira differs from other martial arts: Instead of grappling, wrestling, or sparring, capoeiristas practice their skills in "play" with little emphasis on winning or losing. In Martin's words, "Capoeira is community, being strong together, and the fight and being prepared for anything. It’s like a chess game using your body, and the goal is to bring your opponent down."
Call or text (214) 449-6903 for information on how to sign up.
Watch the video to see how capoeira incorporates music, movement, and fight.
What's your favorite way to stay active close in Hillsdale? Let us know.