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Closing of the project

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DEFENSE OR OFFENSE?

In our last training session our Capoeira trainer Ugnius asked us a very insightful question: what way me move (or how we dance- as a LEAD or we FOLLOW?) . The main focus was placed on observing our instinctual inclination to either ATTACK or RETREAT. Most tend to feel more comfortable in one or the other. This can be easily witnessed in how people train in martial arts. Do we avoid being “hit” and direct our energy towards escaping any confrontation? Or do we do the opposite and “attack” first out of fear of being “hit”? Or maybe we feel more comfortable “attacking” yet when someone “attacks” us back we feel unable to stand our ground in defence.

Our last workshop was focused on balancing our internal ability to both enter DEFEnCSE and OFFENCE when needed. We were able to observe our body’s natural “comfort zone” in order to push it. The goal was to find out our weakest spot and develop that part so we can become a more wholesome individual in all areas of our life. Because if we tend to live life out of a position of “defence” avoiding confrontation at all costs, we need to find the inner courage to put ourselves out into the world and take action. Similarly, if our all our energy is focused on “offence”, and we do not know how to stop and take a pause in order to recover  we may benefit from learning how to preserve our energy inwards. After all, life is constantly moving between cycles of ACTIVITY and PASSIVITY.

Image may contain: 3 people, people dancing, people standing, shoes, outdoor and indoor

Author: Giedre Kotryna

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ZOO CAPOEIRA?

Sometimes there are days when we want more to “play” than “work”. During these kind of days the best way to begin a training is with “zoo” capoeira. Although this form of capoeira seems to be the most suitable for kids but sometimes “young adults” needs to play too. The name “zoo” naturally implies animals. The way we warm up is by imitating how certain animals move such as the cat (“gato”), the spider (“aranha”). These are perfect tools to let go the day-to-day pressure we experience, especially when living in a society where we feel like we need to be serious in order to be taken more seriously. Sometimes we just need to be silly, and not take life or ourselves so seriously. 

Author: Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, living room, shoes and indoor

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FREEDOM IN THE BODY

One on the forms freedom is to have  the body trained to such an extent that it becomes a tool for creativity and expression of the movement. Moving or dancing with another is a form of non-verbal communication through physical contact between two humans.

We often talk about “physical education” in society as something that is optional rather than something that is an inherent part of being human where the mind is perceived as superior to the body.

But all forms of movement, whether through sports or dance train us the “body language”. We focus our minds on learning a verbal language yet we forget that we are constantly using our arms/bodies (body language)/

The technical skills become so deeply ingrained in our subconscious and our muscle memory that we can finally express ourselves without limitations. That is true FREEDOM in our bodies.

Image may contain: 2 people, shoes, indoor and outdoor

 

Author: Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

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ACROBATICS & CAPOEIRA

Every Capoeira class seems to be unique or focused around a particular theme. The last session has involved a lot of acrobatic training, developing the body’s coordination skills, balance as and strength of the core. One of our mentors – Ugnius from “Kaunas Capoeira” mentioned that all of the exercises done individually for example during training at a gym can work out with a partner during Capoeira. After all, it is a much greater challenge to maintain balance while trying to work with another body. Furthermore, our class this time was focused on working together in couples. Requiring us to not only be aware of our own body but to take care of the another body as well. At the end of the day, this teaches us greater awareness of how our body’s move through, how to shift weight and what muscles need to be activated in order to support particular moves. During our training we played around learning cartwheels, handstands and side – kicks which brought us back to the simple joy that we experienced when we were kids and where playing around.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, shoes, living room, table, child, outdoor and indoor

Author: Giedre Kotryna

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HOW CAPOEIRA CAN TEACHES US TOLERANCE?

Last time during our second Capoeira workshop at Žalianamis – atviras jaunimo centras. Our Audrius Kiuberis began the opening circle with a talk about tolerance. Instantly, the theory was put into practice as some new participants were eager to get the training started, getting impatient with the discussion and waiting to spring into action mode. What is tolerance then? Is it simply waiting until someone finishes speaking or perhaps we can take advantage of the opportunity to practice being open – minded to what someone has to say beyond our own personal convictions and expectations? What Audrius was trying to communicate was that in this modern society we like to think of ourselves as tolerant or even project a “self-image” of tolerance, especially when it comes to gender equality, LGBT rights or religion. How many of us are actually OPEN to hear out someone else’s “truth” even if it may challenge our own “truth”.

So how tolerance was the subject of our capoeira class? It is true that Capoeira initially may attract people who are generally interested in the martial arts and the sense of power. However, this unique contact sport shows that true strength is gentle- it is not about proving ones superiority with force, it is about knowing it within and choosing to be gentle with others. Tolerance means being patient with each other. Especially when people of various physical training experience come together to work out together. We work as a team and put aside our individual desires to gain or to “achieve” something.  We choose as a group to honour each persons limitations – even if it means that the whole group needs to repeat the same sequence until everyone is on board. As the African proverb goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, wedding, shoes and indoor

Author: Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

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Capoeira Workshops. Part 2.

Over 24 young people gathered to the first Capoeira workshop hosted by Vilnius Antakalnis open youth center “Žalianamis”, during which both our local youth center visitors, as well as the international youth community and the participants of the intensive CAPOEIRA CONNECTS COMMUNITY 1-week long training came together. Some of them joined out of the curiosity about this unique martial arts dance which originated in Brazil, others were brought along by their friends, and some simply wanted to join the workshop as a means of exploring this new activity which was born out of a genuine collaboration between two youth organizations – Active Youth Projects and Žalianamis – atviras jaunimo centras. The friendship which emerged throughout the projects “Capoeira Connects Community” training program in Kaunas, developed into a combination of multiple youth communities within a small, wooden house painted in green not far from the Neris river in Antakalnis. It was precisely here in this unexpected place, during a particularly windy evening that a lot of young people gathered led by an energetic Capoeira instructor Audrius Kiuberis from “Kaunas Capoeira” and began coming together by singing Portuguese songs. In the beginning this required a lot of courage and effort for many in order to overcome ones inner “obstacles” and to dare liberate one’s voice chords in order to sing the words of an exotic language, however as a collective everyones confidence grew with increasing mutual support of one another. And that is exactly what “Capoeira” teaches through practice- VALUES – the basis of which are to not be afraid of being yourself, to not be afraid of making mistakes, to enable and empower each other through support, and as a result to become stronger and grow together.

Although at first glance it may seem that “Capoeira” is simply an intense physical training, and that “Capoeira” dancers are dangerous acrobats, nevertheless, the essence of it is the sense of community and the all-encompassing force referred to as “axe”, rather than combative aggression. Audrius Kiuberis, like any good teacher to whom its important to maintain a balance between firmness and openness, teaches young people discipline and order during the class, but also mutual respect. And that is particularly important, especially when these days young people can no longer be forced into submission to a deemed “authority figure” – this generation demands that their respect and attention be earned without fear but with the ability to inspire them. Hence, Capoeira teaches not only specific movements with which one can then learn to express themselves as if from a diverse vocabularly during a dance with another player within the bound of a circle of people called the “roda”. Capoeira teaches social skills and helps people overcome social barriers, especially in this age when most tend to isolate themselves both physically and emotionally, by shifting their lives onto social platforms on their smart phones. And this first workshop is a living proof that it takes less than a few hours in order to discover an authentic connection with others, when we concentrate our attention on what we have in common rather than what makes us different. Each and everyone of us wants to be seen and understood, and probably every one of us is afraid to fail or to make a fool of themselves in front of others, which is what often stops us from simply being “ourselves”, however during such activities as “Capoeira” we manage to remember that we are not alone, and that we can develop together if we dare to throw down our social “masks” and to meet each other as equals.

By Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

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2nd Training Course

During the summer time second training course where taking place on 22 – 28th of July in Kaunas, Lithuania. This training course was created for refugees/migrants/mentors to become capoeira teachers. The 7-day training course provided participants with the knowledge about anatomy, capoeira’s training programme and theory, injuries which can happen during the training and how to prevent that to happen. 16 participants where participating in this training. This training course was a real success for us, as participants got fully involved during this project (check the post – Capoeira Workshops in/ event).

TESTIMONIAL from one of the participants

“Capoeira Connects Community”

Another dream has come true and all thanks to the initiative of #activeyouth. Just in June I was participating in a dance camp where I met someone who is practicing capoeira for many years, then a month later I am training capoeira with #Kaunascapoeira for an entire week! Falling in love with capoeira as an art form has fortified my passion for all things related to the culture of Brazil in addition to Zouk dance and Portuguese music. The training has gifted me with another hands – on methodology of how to connect community members by active learning in the form of social sports. Just as I believe in social dance between men and women as a beautiful vehicle to encourage people to engage with each other through physical movement in unison, so have I found the same to be true about capoeira… and I can’t wait to introduce and adapt it to our community as well!

While the training was intense (which I was hoping it would be), even I was caught by surprise when at the end of the week during reflection I realised that this project accomplished exactly what it sought out to do in the first place – to connect people and integrate them into a community through a common activity. The participants were people of varying ages, of different levels of physical preparation and exposure to martial arts, however what bonded us more than anything was our dedication to work as a team despite our differences and in spite of the obstacles – within or without. The fact that the daily training was physically, emotionally and/or mentally challenging created an environment which was explosive at times, in terms of interpersonal relationships, yet at the end of the week it led to the development of a truly cohesive team that was unstoppable in spirit.

When the last day of the project came and we were coming together for the final time as a group to share Capoeira in Vilnius Vingio park, many were tired and even intimidated about the idea of openly displaying ones individual skills in front of the public. Yet more than anything, what was driving us to be there was each other- we felt empowered by each others presence, by our unique trialling experience we had underwent, sharing everything from sweat to laughter! We had a common goal and the unique core principles of capoeira – UNITY- as our main driving force and we felt connected as ONE. Our moves may have not been perfect, our Portuguese – less than ideal, our bodies – fatigued but we were singing our hearts out, teaching new people with openness and compassion and feeling the silent solidarity amongst each other.

By Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

Additional Information

  • Promotion of training course;
  • More pictures from the training course;
  • Video from Capoeira training course;
  • Capoeira Community Facebook group;
  • Info pack of the training course, with all the information for project participants;
  • Schedule of the training course;
  • Training Course was promoted through @active.youth Instagram stories;
  • A lot of the participants shared their experience on their personal Facebook or Instagram accounts (e.g experience).
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Capoeira Day

On 28th of July in beautiful Vingio parkas which is located in the capital of Lithuania we organised a public event where we invited people who we already knew, thanks to this beautiful project, as well we were inviting new people to try Capoeira with us – as we believe that Capoeira is a perfect tool for connecting community.

Refugees and those who were participating in our 1st/2nd training course had a chance to demonstrate their capoeira skills on Capoeira Day. Refugees & others made a performance for the newcomers and where encouraging them to play capoeira together.

The trainer from Kaunas Capoeira shared his experience and feelings working with this project, the same thing did other people who where  involved in this project.

As one of our participants wrote:
When the last day of the “Capoeira Connects Community” project came and we were coming all together for the Capoeira day as a group to share Capoeira, many of us were tired and even intimidated about the idea of openly displaying individual skills in front of the public. Yet more than anything, what was driving us to be there for each other – we felt empowered by each others presence, by our unique trialling experience we had, sharing everything from sweat to laughter! We had a common goal and the unique core principles of capoeira – UNITY- as our main driving force and we felt connected as ONE. Our moves may have not been perfect, our Portuguese – less than ideal, our bodies – fatigued, we were singing our hearts out, teaching new people with openness and compassion, and feeling the silent solidarity amongst each other.
– Giedrė Kotryna Kazragytė

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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Spring/Summer weekly Capoeira Classes

From March till June of 2019 inclusive capoeira workshops where happening in Pabrades “Ryto” gymnasium school (in the city where one of the refugee  center is located). Workshops where organised for refugees and locals (for both men and women) especially to encourage refugees, to keep practising sports and to get basic capoeira skills. One of the main goals where to create connection between people &  to get them excited about capoeira that this activity would last afterwards.

Continuous and inclusive workshops were lead by an energetic Capoeira instructor Audrius Kiuberis from “Kaunas Capoeira” where refugees and locals got the opportunity to learn basic capoeira skills. Idea behind all of it, was belief that Capoeira is a perfect tool for connecting community.

Some participants joined out of curiosity, others were brought along by their friends & some simply wanted to join the workshop as a means of exploring this new activity. Different age, gender, locals & refugees from Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sri Lanka joined the workshops.

Everything has started with  getting to know each other activities, learning about Capoeira movements, it’s history & setting up personal goals.

For those who doesn’t know, Capoeira consists of a lot of singing. At the beginning all of this this requires a lot of courage and effort for many in order to overcome inner “obstacles”. However as a collective, everyone confidence grew with increasing mutual support one of another. That is exactly what “Capoeira” teaches through practice – VALUES – the basis, how to not be afraid of being yourself, not be afraid of making mistakes, to enable and empower each other through support & as a result to become stronger and to grow together.

At first glance it may seem that “Capoeira” is simply an intense physical training and that “Capoeira” dancers are dangerous acrobats, nevertheless, the essence of it is the sense of community – encompassing force. Capoeira instructor to whom it’s important to maintain a balance between firmness and openness, teaches  people not just discipline during the classes but also mutual respect. Capoeira as well teaches us social skills and helps people overcome social barriers, especially in this age when most tend to isolate themselves both physically & emotionally by shifting their lives on social platforms – on their smart phones.

Capoeira workshops is a living proof that it takes less than a few months in order to discover an connection with others, when we concentrate our attention on what we have in common. During all those 14 workshops a lot of things have happened. All of the strangers feel much more stronger, faster, most importantly, more like a community now. It all started with a circle of around 30 people. Men and women, girls and boys, tall and short, coming from so many different countries. Yet everyone rejoiced at their first attempts at singing or hand standing. So many things learnt, so many still left to improve.

Some Additional Information

Video & pictures from our first capoeira class;

Public Facebook event where people could track capoeira workshops;

Capoeira Community Facebook group;

Promotion material (as well printed version of promotion material where delivered all around the city/refugee center/school);

Pictures from the last capoeira workshop.

Other Capoeira Workshops where promoted through @active.youth Instagram stories account.