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Capoeira or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

I was having a look on Reddit and I came across a thread which caught my attention. It was called “Capoeira or BJJ?”, and for once it wasn’t a Capoeira VS BJJ discussion.

I figured I might as well share my thoughts about it, since I have been involved with both for more than…a long time…

This isn’t a pros and cons discussion on either martial art, just my thoughts on the awesomeness of both.

Capoeira (my first love)

Capoeira is a very beautiful art. It’s steeped in Brazilian culture, incorporating aspects of Afro-Brazilian music, dance, movement, philosophy and history.

For most people, it’s the physical side of Capoeira that attracts them. At first, we see the fast kicks the acrobatics, and are driven to execute these movements with precision and grace.

But, the more you train, the more music you learn (because without the music you can’t play Capoeira), and as you get better at playing the various instruments and singing the songs, your Capoeira takes on a new dimension and meaning.

Then as you follow the music, you have to learn more Brazilian Portuguese to understand what you (and others are singing), and because you are learning the language, you are getting deeper into the culture.

There are so many strands to Capoeira that you can follow (within the various styles such as Angola and Regional). For example, you can focus on the martial side and try to use Capoeira in combat - some people have found success with it. Or you can choose to focus on fast flowing movements and acrobatics, and practice under a group such as Capoeira Cordão de Ouro.

So my point is that Capoeira is truly an expressive martial art that provides you with a myriad of options in terms of skill development.

BJJ (my other love)

Like most people, I first saw BJJ in action while watching UFC 1 while I was still in College. It wasn’t until another couple of years later when my friend Ricky AKA Ladybeard, arm-barred me during a game of Capoeira that I actually felt it in action!

A few more years down the track, and I was at a Capoeira Batizado, attending a Capo-BJJ workshop with Mestre Formiguinha from Group Topazio. It was then that I decided to go to the gym and start to learn how to hug peeps on the ground.

Similarly to Capoeira, it takes about a year (or ten) of consistent BJJ training for you to really start to understand the fundamental positions, escapes, sweeps and submissions. To a degree you can rely on some of your natural instincts - wrestling or rough-housing is something humans have done forever - you can read some posts about it here.

But until you’ve given it about 12 months, everyone else seems to be infinitely better than you and your ego takes a massive bashing. But if you give it a chance, and remain patient, the tide will start to turn.

When it comes to making a choice on which martial art to do, think about what your motivations are for starting, and what kind of training experience suits you.

Do you want to practice an art that helps you express yourself? If so, Capoeira combines dance, acrobatics, martial arts and music.

Do you want to gain skills that could be used in a self defence situation? If so, BJJ will teach you a lot of self-control and how to control another person’s body.

Personally I’m really happy with the order I chose to do both arts. Doing Capoeira for a decade before I started grappling gave me a clear understanding of my body, and knowing where it was in space. This gave me a point of difference and competitive advantage over my BJJ counterparts.

So if you’re keen on BJJ, I highly recommend diversifying your training with things like gymnastics, circus, breakdancing, parkour or movement training. They all require you to understand where your body is in space, and are a change from the usual strength and conditioning training.

So go out, find a Capoeira group or academy, find a good teacher that suits you, go have fun, do handstands, listen to good music, choke somebody (with permission) but not in that particular order…

Photo taken of me for my birthday

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