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CrazyFruits » African/Caribbean/UK/GeneralDiscussions » Capoeira For Peace Martial Arts

Capoeira For Peace Martial Arts

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1bat Capoeira For Peace Martial Arts on Sun 26 Oct 2014 - 20:37

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Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Capoeira Alafia (CA) is dedicated to the prevention and reduction of violence, and the promotion of environmental awareness and safe living spaces within inner-city communities in Jamaica. Capoeira is an internationally practised Afro-Brazilian rhythmic martial arts that incorporates elements of both self-defence and artistic expression. It is a unique form of martial arts that is founded upon camaraderie, cooperation and respect, as opposed to competition and aggression.

The Capoeira for Peace project in Jamaica utilises Capoeira to strategically improve behaviour in youth eight to 16 years old, and strengthen their community relations. The programme is strategically taught through a therapeutic approach rather than a martial arts approach associated with most combat systems and combat sports.


According to Dennis 'Contra-Mestre Simpson' Eckart, Grupo Cativeiro Capoeira Jamaica, founder/coordinator, the programme is very important as they cover many of the main issues that affect youths in Jamaica by offering an exciting blend of alternative skills training.
According to Simpson, while many martial arts instructors and organisations teach only martial combative techniques with little (if any) attention to philosophical, spiritual, or societal issues, Capoeira for Peace fundamentally focuses on the development of both physical and mental self-regulation and control, along with respect, discipline and creativity to improve the social and physical quality of life of its practitioners.
cultural identity
"Capoeira ... was developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil and was used in their struggle for freedom. It parallels Jamaica's colonial history, Maroon culture and even reggae music as a form of expression. It is a unique blend of martial arts, music, dance and acrobatic movements. Teaching Capoeira's cultural context and history to Jamaicans allows for the analysis of their own cultural roots and can help develop self-esteem, pride, and cultural identity," Eckart said.
Capoeira for Peace teaches martial arts as a practice of rethinking and manipulating one's own previously exhibited patterns of physical movement and emotional behaviour in order for youth to alter their own decision-making process. These skills improve their knowledge, confidence, and self-esteem to reject and avoid detrimental behaviour associated with living in dangerous and impoverished communities.
"We also train youths in tyre crafting and teach them how to transform used car and truck tyres into marketable products such as flower pots, bird plant hangers, children swings and retaining walls," Echart said.
By combining physical training and theoretical lessons, patterns of peaceful social interaction and alternatives to violent behaviour are developed within the context of the art, which is then transferred to the participant's social environment. After extensive participation in Capoeira for Peace,

the youth then participate in advanced Capoeira for Peace instructor training for the youth to engage with their own communities and teach Capoeira classes.

"The most outstanding capoeira students are rewarded with scholarships and have experienced many life-changing events due to their dedication to the programme. Some students have become instructors as well, and are passing on their skills to other within their communities," Eckart said.

"Others earn additional income by participating in demonstrations. Our environmental workshops have also been well received and many have picked up our techniques and have replicated them," he added.

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