NIU Capoeira Club to host Brazilian martial arts exhibition

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NIU Capoeira Club is hosting an exhibition match Thursday at noon.

By Caleb Johnson, Lifestyle Writer

NIU’s Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Club is hosting a Capoeira exhibition match in the MLK Commons featuring Capoeira Mestre Iuri Santos. The main event is from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday. 

“(Capoeira) was formed about 500 years ago, developed by slaves of Brazil,” said Oliver Camacho, faculty adviser and founder of the Capoeria club. “Capoeira is about cultural preservation, to help maintain culture and to create culture. This art form is old and it was passed on from generation to generation. The Afro-Brazilian slaves encapsulated it and also preserved it. It is important because it is a way to move the body, the spirit and the soul.”  

This art form begins to mix martial arts and dance movements to free the body and spirit. Camacho explained that the berimbau, a special percussion instrument, is an integral part of the movements of Capoeira, blending in with and leading the other instruments to keep the tempo and flow of the dancing movements. During the warm-up session, Camacho explained the importance of freedom and how essential it is to the art of Capoeira. 

Gregory Beyer, professor and director of percussion studies, said this connection is really integral as the training for the club takes place in the Music Building in the percussion studio. Seeing how integral percussion is to Capoeira, it is important to have this connection. Beyer is very passionate about Capoeira and encourages people to come to the club.  

Arely Ferreira-Nava, president of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Club and a sophomore majoring in chemistry, mentioned the idea of Coeperia being sort of a game; it can be considered similar to a sport, although with a more spiritual element. Ferreira-Nava said she likes this aspect of Capoeira because she likes the physical activity she gets from it. 

“One of the best parts of the club, for me at least, is the events because it really brings everyone together,” Ferreira-Nava said. “Sometimes we do events with the Music Club, and they really bring more people in and it feels like a game.” 

Ferreira-Nava explained that because musical instruments are important, the more people that are involved, the better, because there are usually about ten people playing. She said that at a minimum, you need two people to do the mock fight and the movements, but the game is more fun with larger participation. Ferreira-Nava expressed how she felt it was great to connect with and meet new people beyond the classroom. 

“In Capoeira, you meet people and you kind of develop a bond with them because you have to know them, to play-fight with them, and you need that trust when you play with them,” Ferreira-Nava said.  

The club is also hosting a variety of Brazilian and Capoeira cultural workshops as a part of Latino Heritage Month, including: Introduction to World Culture, Capoeira Percussion, Song, and Poetry, and Racism in American Culture. There will also be a Capoeira training session after the events. Interested students can contact Oliver Camacho at ocamacho@niu.edu or Gregory Beyer at gbeyer@niu.edu