Educational concept: Capoeira - tool for change

Type of tool: 
120+ min
Topics addressed: 
Group dynamics
Project management
Social inclusion

Educational concept: Capoeira - tool for change is a concept for group wourk with children and youth where capoeira is used as a learning tool and social inclusion.


Social inclusion and learning of life skills


Group work with children and youth in risk
Learning through sport
Learning through music

Step by step process: 

This educational concept presents group work that has a certain duration. It is ideal to work with the same group for a year, but it is possible to addapt and apply certain topics over a shorter period of time.

The foundation of this concept is learning life skills through capoeire training, but some parts can be used in other contexts as well.

The whole concept consists of 4 units through which learning is taught:

1) Capoeira values and history
Capoeira, through its history, is telling stories and legends that are supporting certain values: longing for freedom, strength of the group as support, preservation of your own identity despite external pressures. Capoeira has been developed by African slaves in Brazil who managed to preserve it as dance-fighting tradition. In group work we connect individual tales and legends with the theme of the class. Certain stages from the history of capoeira are linked to certain themes. For example: in one period throughout history, capoeira, together with all the expressions of African culture (which was practiced by slaves and perceived as pagan) was banned. Capoeirists continued to practice capoeira in secret and giving of secret nicknames to capoeiristas was common. Many heroes from the legends are known to their nickname, not the real name, to keep their identity hidden. Today, in group work, we also give nicknames to the participants (apelido), which is a reflection of some of their specific (sometimes ridiculous) characteristics. The nickname of a group member is used and has the power to accept the person precisely because of these characteristics that make him special and different from the others. That is giving great value to promoting diversity.

2) Capoeira elements (movements and music)
When we learn how to master Capoeira, it consists of learning movements, martial arts elements, communication through movement and learning how to play music, as it is performed with music. In the educational concept, when we aim to develop some social skills, we are adding discussions and debriefing after things we were learning during trainings. For example: learning some of the more advanced acrobatic techniques we are connecting with the topic of "trust" and after the activity (paired exercise) we talk to the group: what is the feeling of "letting go", the feeling of "taking care of somebody, discussing " is it easier to trust someone or to be the one who is responsible and to whom someone believes. What helps us in this process and what goes away ..“

3) Educational Games in Capoeira Training
In order to promote the achievement of goals and the development of social skills, some already existing games and activities of informal learning are adapted and introduced to the training of capoeira. At the beginning, these are, for example, games that are promoting group dynamics and group connectivity, which are also used as warm up games for training. Games are taken from various manuals for group work and social skills learning, and adapted by adding a sports component. Games that are made to be played as sitting games we adjust so that during a game participants should move, move with hands on the floor or in other capoeira-specific ways, that in some parts of the game they should perform some capoeira movement. Example: a child's play "stone, scissors, paper" can be used to encourage group dynamics by playing in a specific way, (playing in couples and when one player wins, the other stands behind him and shouts his name.) After short time, we get „human lines“ playing the game, as individual players ar forming groups. The game ends when there is only one "line" in which everyone is shouting same name. The Capoeira version of this activity instead of "stone, scissors, paper" uses 3 different capoeira movements performed by players, which are in the same ratio as stone, scissors and paper in the original version.

4) Using the Metaphor of Tribe in Activities
As in the history and symbolysm of capoeira, values are very much promoting the importance of a group. We are using metaphore of a TRIBE to explain different values. Group rules are made in a manner that would be important for a tribe, in order to resolve the conflict we have "tribal rituals" - a capoeire game. Additionally, we add the metaphor to each game. Eg. - The classic game "node" in which participants need to disentangle without letting go each others hands, in our concept is called the "chain of slaves" and the instruction is given through the metaphor of the slaves from one tribe that has to manage to disentangle te chain in order to escape.

These 4 units are interlinked and complemented, depending on the content and topics that we are addressing.

Materials and resources: 

Resources: to be able to apply this concept as a whole, one must be skilled in the art of capoeira and have basic pedagogic knowledges.
Parts of the concept are possible to apply also in other context and through various sport activities, not only capoeira.
This concept is still in progress and we are working on a manual with activities to be used in group work. Manual will be future working material.


Planned outcomes for 1 year work:
- group members are connected
- each member increased awareness of their positive qualities and has raised self esteem
- members are showing positive attitude towards differences
- members have learnes some techniques for control of emotions


Tool has been evaluated and evaluation results are showing stated outcomes.
Big limit is a narrow possibility to implement it as a whole as one must be familiar with the art of capoeira.
Advantage is a possibility to addapt the concept for other context so it can be an inspiration for various types of group work.

Notes for further use: 

Whole concept is stil in making and we are working on creating a manual and detailed description of the steps in work. Through period of 2 years it will be more available to use, after we publish working material and instructions.

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