History & Development of Brazilian Capoeira in Pakistan

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Shayan Ali
 Capoeira is a Brazilian traditional martial art that combines elements of dance, music, acrobatics, fighting and self-defense. It is a unique martial art in a sense that the objective of the game is not to defeat the opponent but to display the set of skills in a physical dialogue. Capoeira is very famous for fast and complex moves including a wide variety of kicks, spins, doges, fast counter-attacks and highly mobile techniques. The history of Capoeira starts in the beginning of 16th century in Brazil by African descendants with native Brazilian influences. It was made to give slaves a chance to escape and to survive. Capoeira was illegal in Brazil until the 1930’s. Today Capoeira is played and practiced all over the world. Capoeira has also gained the UN cultural heritage status in November 2014. 

 Capoeira is visually pleasing and physically a great workout but a true Capoeira player (Capoeirista) also learns about the history and culture of Capoeira, learn to play instruments and sing the songs. It takes years of commitment, dedication and hard work to be able to play Capoeira like a pro.

 The history of Capoeira in Pakistan starts from October 2012 when Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad started Capoeira classes free of charge inside the embassy premises in Islamabad. The Ambassador Alfredo Leoni took the initiative and classes started with a group of 20 Capoeiristas. The Capoeiristas used to practice basics of Capoeira moves and music for two years. I (Shayan Ali) was also the part of this practice group from the day first. In these two years more than hundred practitioners enrolled but left quickly because the regular ones were stick to the basics and there was nothing more to offer. For two years around 12 Capoeiristas were regular and all were learning basically from internet, books and from each other. The Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad also invited Mestre Di Mola from Brazil to Pakistan for a “one day training” workshop. The Mestre fixed some of our basic mistakes we were doing for a long time and he also introduced us to some advance moves.

 In October 2014 the Capoeira classes inside the embassy were temporarily closed. After hearing this sad news I contacted the management which arranged my meeting with the Ambassador Alfredo Leoni. In the meeting I presented “The Promotion & Projection Plan for Capoeira in Pakistan” to the Ambassador which His Excellency and the management appreciated. The classes once again started and I enrolled 60 new students in November/December 2014 and introduced them to Capoeira philosophy, history and basic moves. At that time my friend Mirwais was also assisting the classes.

 In January 2015 The Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad with the support of Iara Lee (Cultures of Resistance) sent me and my friend Mirwais for a three week advance training of Capoeira to Brazil at “ABADA Capoeira” training center. The Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad and Iara Lee (Cultures of Resistance) took care of our traveling, training and staying expenses. The management of Embassy also took care of us on priority basis from the very first day to the day we reached back in Pakistan. Mirwais and I were sent to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil at the training center of Mestre Canguru who is a well-known Mestre and student of “Mestre Camisa”, the founder of ABADA Capoeira. We used to train two times a day and five days a week. The training was really hard and we learned the real game from real gurus of Capoeira. Mestre Canguru taught us not only the basics but also the advance level game. We were also lucky to have one day training from Mestre Camisa, the founder and president of ABADA Capoeira. Mestre Camisa was very happy that Capoeira is now starting in Pakistan.

ABADA Capoeira (The Associação Brasileira de Apoio e Desenvolvimento da Arte-Capoeira) (The Brazilian Association for the Support and Development of the Art of Capoeira) is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to spread and support Brazilian culture through the practice of capoeira. Founded in 1988 by “Mestre Camisa”, José Tadeu Carneiro Cardoso, ABADÁ is based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is one of the largest Capoeira organizations in the world with over 41,000 members representing schools throughout every state of Brazil as well as over 30 different countries including Pakistan.

In February 2015 we came back to Pakistan from Brazil and a press conference was held inside the embassy on February 17th 2015. Next day all major newspapers and TV channels reported the news of “Capoeira of Brazil lands in Pakistan” including “Capoeira is now officially going to start in Pakistan” and “Pakistan is now officially affiliated with ABADA Capoeira in Brazil”.

Our training in Brazil and the press conference in Pakistan was a major development for the promotion of Capoeira in Pakistan. The next major development was the registration of the official website of Capoeira: “www.capoeira.com.pk”, the registration of “Pakistan Capoeira Federation” and “Pakistan Capoeira Academy”. The official website for Capoeira in Pakistan is now dedicated for the promotion of Capoeira in Pakistan. The website provides information about Capoeira history, philosophy, music, song lyrics and technical fighting moves. The website also publishes pictures and videos of Capoeira activities in Pakistan.

Now Capoeira training is offered free of cost inside the embassy for everyone. We are also going to start academies in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and other cities of Pakistan. With the help of Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad and with the financial support of non-profit organizations we are again ready to train much more in Brazil but along with our team. I hope the very best future of Capoeira in Pakistan.