Alicia Fennell (instructor Onça) and Jonny Schut participated in an international gathering of capoeiristas in Brazil.

Two weeks of tough training in Brazil

It was an incredible two weeks of Brazilian culture, food, language, and of course, tough training.

Local athletes Alicia Fennell (instructor Onça) and Jonny Schut took the challenge and made the long journey to Recife, Brazil to participate in an international gathering of capoeiristas. Schut has been training with the group since its humble beginnings in 2009, and Fennell leads the group in the Comox Valley.

The first week was spent in a camp with masters Barrão, Eddy Murphy, Carrasco, Manhoso, as well as professors and instructors from Brazil, and from as far away as Kazakstan. The training regime was up to three sessions per day of two-hour intense, focused training in hot conditions.

After one week in the training camp paradise, the group took a day off at Porto de Galinhas to relax on the beach and learn a little about the history of slavery in Brazil. The athletes then reconvened at Boa Viagem, Recife for workshops on the beaches and in the parks. Later they moved to Ilha de Itamaraca, where they participated in a day of workshops with yet more guest masters.

One of the highlights of the trip was a belt ceremony where Fennell received a long-awaited belt of Instructora. The martial art of capoeira is known for being a lifelong journey, and the belt system reflects this. It can often take a practitioner many years with consistent dedication, training and contribution to the art form to reach the level of instructor or professor. It can take up to 30 years to reach the level of master. The art form recognizes and demands experience in life and in capoeira in order for a practitioner to reach a state of humility and strength of character to be deemed master.

During the event, there was also an international Afro-Brazilian dance competition, where Fennell placed third, and an International Tournament of Capoeira for intermediate and advanced belts. Two athletes from Vancouver, graduada Tupi and Formiguinha took home first and second place for the absolute women category. A special ceremony was held before the competition to commemorate and graduate high-level teachers to the rank of master.

The International Grupo Axé Capoeira now has four high-level ranking women, all of whom are Canadian, and it is finally apparent that women have started to earn a place in the world of capoeira.

Instrutora Onça has been teaching in the Comox Valley for almost 10 years, helping hundreds of children and adults discover strength, confidence and self empowerment through capoeira. The local chapter, Axé Capoeira Comox Valley, will be hosting a 10-year anniversary event in March. They are looking forward to hosting masters and students from all over.

An online auction fundraiser is active on Facebook. The group is looking for items or services for the auction, and for sponsors for the anniversary. Contact axecomox@hotmail.com.

Classes for kids and adults are always running.

FMI: capoeiracomox.com

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