Ginga Part I: Learn Capoeira's Moving Stance from the Shoulders Up
What do you look for when you watch new students doing Capoeira's moving stance, ginga?
One of the first things I look for when analyzing a Capoeirista or new student practicing Capoeira's moving stance, ginga, is prior knowledge of fighting or instinctual combat skill. I am honestly a little amazed when I see a high level Capoeirista who seemingly does not know to defend vulnerable areas of their body. Fighters are always reminded to keep their chins down, because it is vital to protect the triangle from the top of the nose to the back edges of the jaw. This area can be a one shot knockout location, so we always coach to maximize protection. In a real fight, a savvy opponent will most certainly be targeting this triangle, so beware.
..." it is vital to protect the triangle from the top of the nose to the back edges of the jaw. This area can be a one shot knockout location..."
What does proper form in ginga look like from the shoulders up?
I often find that when I tell people to protect their chins, they respond with “I am”. I think there are several reasons for this misconception. People are not accustomed to looking out of different angles with their eyes for extended periods. The chin should be tucked so much that you are forced to look through the tops of your eyes. If students really struggle with this, I tell them to look through their eyebrows.
Another reason for a chin to be exposed is bad shoulder positioning. If you take a profile photo of a Capoeirista and draw two parallel lines, you should see that the shoulder line is above the chin line. We should always tuck our chins up against our shoulder in ginga. Capoeiristas mostly try to dodge and move with incoming attacks, but sometimes we get caught. It’s nice to have a final layer of defense in those cases.
Let us never forget that Capoeira was first and foremost a martial art. It is many other things as well, and they are all very fun and interesting. But to practice Capoeira without proper form to defend yourself is a disservice to the creators of the art, themselves locked in a fight for freedom.