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Martial Arts' Lesser Known Capoeira Leads Southfield Practice Center

By Kelly Church

One of the lesser known forms of martial arts is the focal point at The Michigan Center for Capoeira. The Southfield area facility was opened in 2007 by capoeira student Baz Michaeli with the vision of developing a generation of "healthy, happy and independent human beings through the art of capoeira." The Michigan Center for Capoeira celebrates the rich history of the martial art form and Michaeli believes that its practice can lead to stronger individuals with a more open mind.

"[After starting capoeira] I found out the amazing benefits it has," Michaeli says. "The martial art aspect, the fitness, the dance, the music, the community, the people [and] the game. All this together was the ideal art form. I found one art form that has everything a human desires."

Capoeira was an evolution over many years during slave trade in Brazil. Slaves were brought from Africa and harsh conditions led to slaves escaping and developing their own small communities. It was in these communities that capoeira started to form through basic self-defense practices.

Many slaves were ultimately recaptured and brought back to their plantations to work, and they taught the other slaves capoeira. Sundays were their days of rest and practicing capoeira. To keep their martial arts practice under the radar from the slave owners, slaves added music, singing and dancing, hiding their deadly approach to martial arts.

Over the centuries, capoeira and capoeiristas (those who practice the art) experienced a touch and go relationship with the government and was ultimately outlawed the practice of capoeira until 1920. Mestre Pastinha, a master of capoeira, opened the very first capoeira school in 1942.

"What inspired me first to learn Capoeira was the elegance and beauty of the art form once I saw it for the first time," Michaeli says. "I was mesmerized by it as it captured my attention and I felt that I have to try this amazing art form?the people, the community, the atmosphere that surrounded everything that has to do with this amazing art form felt so welcoming and accepting that is motivated and inspired me more to dive into this art form."

There are classes at The Michigan Center for Capoeira for most ages. Kids as young as six and up to ten can practice in the kids capoeira class. The class is one hour long. There is also a class specifically for teenagers aged 11 to 15; adults aged 16 and older; and a class for ages 40 and up. All classes are inside the Franklin Athletic Club, and there's even a free introductory class for adults 18 and older. The free class is limited to 20 students and must be registered for in advance. The dress code for capoeira class is long sweat pants and a t-shirt. Classes can be signed up for online at www.tmc4c.com.

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About The Author

Kelly Church is a writer and avid reader with a Bachelor's of Science in Journalism...

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