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Capoeria class at at Tandang Garimot martial arts center exhausting yet fun.

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If there's a martial arts style that exists in the world, you can confidently bet that there's a studio or instructor in Chicago that teaches it, particularly at the Tandang Garimot Martial Arts and Wellness studio, located on 2940 N. Lincoln Avenue.
Staffed by four instructors that teach Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan, Muay Thai, Fillipino martial arts, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, and other forms, this studio is a great place for novices and seasoned practitioners to learn more about the self-defense styles of the world.
Rhodora Derpo, one of the four instructors, hosted a introductory course on February 8th that taught the martial art known as 'Abada Capoeria'. During this class, students learned about the rich history of this Brazilian martial art, it's basic movements, defenses, and kicks, and how to perform these techniques in sync with traditional song and rhythm.
Capoeria, pronounced 'Kha-poo-era', is a martial art that was created by the descendants of Brazilian natives and captives from Africa; for most of the 19th century was the choice combat method of escaped slaves fighting for their freedom. To keep the practice of this art from being noticed by plantation owners and authority figures, song and dance was added as a disguise, and eventually became an integral part of Capoeria as an art form. Like most martial arts, different schools thought arose over the years; throughout the class, Rhodora Derpo strove to balance Caeporia's martial aspect equally with it's artistic aspect
After a series of stretches and warm-ups, Rhodora first showed students the basic stance of Capoeria, the 'Ginga', a constant defensive movement where people step from side to side, bringing one foot back and ducking down; with this constant shifting, practitioners can deftly maneuver around enemy attacks. She'd come back to this form again and again throughout the class, reminding students to keep their backs straight, and let their arms swing in front of their heads as a defense (one of the quirks that distinguishes her 'Abada' Capoeria from other schools).
Next, she demonstrated how to shift from the 'Ginga' into alternate defensive postures, which she collectively referred to as 'Esquivas', which translates to 'escapes'. One of the 'Esquivas' taught was called the 'De Frente', a move that involved squatting extremely low while in the 'Ginga' to dodge kicks, while the hand opposite your rear leg touches the ground for support.
To memorize these defensive forms, she had her students 'Ginga' from one corner of the practice floor to the other and back, crouching down every few seconds into an 'esquiva' while she set the rhythm with beats on a tambourine. Around this time, those without a background in ballet or yoga soon felt the strain in their thighs from rarely used muscles getting exercised.
Next, she demonstrated three kicking motions that could be initiated from 'Ginga' or 'esquiva' motions; one of these movements was called the 'Queixada', where the two legs cross together before kicking to add power and reach.
Lastly, Rhodora had her students put together all the techniques they learned inside the traditional venue of Capoeria practice and competition–the 'Roda'. She arranged all the students into a circle, then took up the traditional percussion instruments played during a capoeria match– the tamborine and the 'Berimbau' musical bow– and beat out a syncopated rhythm. Two students each took turns practicing the basic moves of capoeria in tune to the rhythm, which alternated slow and fast. They maneuvered around each other with the 'Ginga' and occasionally threw out slow motion kicks so that the other could practice their evasive maneuvers.
Rhodora Derpo's Capoeria course left people exhausted, but also impressed at the athleticism and artistry it involved. Afterwards, Rhodora wished her students a safe travel home through the blizzard snow, and invited them to come back for future classes and study more of this unique Brazilian martial art.

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