3 Rules for Kids Capoeira Rodas
In my kids Capoeira classes I teach a little mantra called Three Rules for Roda. In Capoeira, the roda is where all of the training comes together. This is true for adults and kids alike. We exchange kicks, dodges, takedowns, and acrobatics-all to live music! There is a lot going on there, and with a bunch of kids excited and ready to play it is important to lay some ground rules to keep everyone safe and happy. I encourage Fun, Safety, and Respect, a combination that I feel brings winning results. The rules are as follows:
I feel that with a little added nuance these can be fantastic Capoeira guidelines for adults as well. Adults are typically equipped with a little less bandwidth to retain information with all the various life stressors we experience; it’s just nice to have three simple concepts with which to adhere.
1. Have as much fun as you can.
In my opinion, this is the magic that holds everything in Capoeira together. People who are having fun want that feeling to continue- good times are addictive! There is a lot of research that indicates that having fun can greatly contribute to overall learning. Capoeira is perfect for auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Even though Capoeira can be complex and downright confusing at times, having fun allows for more focus when things get tricky. It’s easier to pay attention to an activity that you’re enjoying! People also tend to retain the information they receive when having fun. Your mood is governed by multiple chemicals in your brain, so there are very real physiological responses that potentially influence your experience in Capoeira class. It is much easier to feel inspired to try new things when having fun, therefore students who are enjoying themselves are willing to take more risks. For the most part, this is a good thing! You can’t improve very much if you remain completely in your comfort zone. Sometimes people do wander across the line into dangerous territory, which leads to the next rule:
2. Be as safe as possible.
There is nothing quite like an injury to take the wind out of your sails, especially injuries in your kids Capoeira class. When we push our students, we dance on that line between excellence and recklessness. Kids are often looking for approval and will sometimes get carried away. Being as present as possible, really listening and watching what is happening in your class is absolutely vital.
A lot of injuries happen due to fatigue or distractions, Capoeira is just harder when you’re tired or not paying attention. Your physical and mental reactions and capabilities are compromised when you’re exhausted. Often times in kids classes, we have them work in pairs- kind of exhaustion or distraction double trouble. Fortunately, most injury risk is significantly mitigated by simple mindfulness. Know what you’re getting into, and have those kids dance on the safe side of the line. Simple call-and-response sayings are often good ways to bring kids' attention back.
Call to the Kids: "1-2-3 All Eyes On Me!"
Response from the Kids: "1-2 Eyes on You!"
3. Respect the art.
This is an excellent lesson for children, but manifests itself differently with adults. Children love to play and have fun. They may not view their own behavior as disrespectful to the art. It is important to teach your Capoeira kids that listening to the teacher and following the safety rules are required parts of respecting the art. Likewise, many children will mimic sounds and gestures from other martial arts and not realize that behavior is frowned upon. One way to teach kids to respect the art is to highlight unique and fun things about Capoeira like our moving stance, ginga, or the acrobatics, or even the music. There are so many wonderful aspects with Capoeira for children to love and excel. Lead your Capoeira kids by example. Because we know kids generally are seeking approval and guidance, remember to reward positive behavior with call outs and recognition. Capoeira is a powerful art, and it demands that we respect it with humble aggression. Negative attitudes about oneself or Capoeira only undermine the group effort to respect the art. One final thought for your kids class is that as Capoeiristas, to respect Capoeira is to respect to themselves. Every single student, young and old, belong.
I recommend teaching your Kids Capoeira classes these rules for roda. They're easy to say and easy to remember. Before every roda, ask your students if they know the rules. The class should respond in unison.
1. Have as much fun as you can
2. While being as safe as possible
3. And respecting the art
If you are considering Capoeira as an activity for your child, check out this article detailing why it's such a great enrichment activity. The Reasons My Kids Train Capoeira and Why Yours Should Too!