I’ve been playing with some capoeira movements in my training first through reading about floreio, and then more recently after reading Capoeira Conditioning: How to Build Strength, Agility, and Cardiovascular Fitness Using Capoeira Movements by Gerard Taylor.I had been looking for more information on using capoeira to keep fit and this book looked like it would fit the bill nicely. What the book isn’t
If you are looking for a book to help you learn to play capoeira this is probably not for you. It focuses solely on using capoeira movements as conditioning exercises but doesn’t cover how they can be blended together into a flow or how to use them in a game of capoeira. It’s not really a negative as this isn’t what the book sets out to do. If you are looking for a capoeira reference book then it is best to look elsewhere, if you are looking for a way to gain strength, flexibility and coordination using novel bodyweight exercises then read on.
The book is split into three sections:
- Capoeira Conditioning: what is it and why is it good for you?
- The training
- The exercises
In the first section Taylor makes the case for capoeira movements as way of keeping fit. He begins by defining fitness, breaking it down into seven core attributes:
- Cardiovascular endurance
He then argues that capoeira movements are the best way to develop all of these attributes and recommends training with them regardless of whether you train the art or not, as they will not just make you fit for capoeira but “fit for life”.If you’ve ever seen a capoerist do their thing you can see his point, the movement they display is something we could all aspire to. Taylor then gives some detail about the core movements that make up his program. They are the squat, bridge, cartwheel, handstand and handstand press up. It’s a very good list, they are all great movements. My only complaint would be a lack of pulling movements, although as they are not really used in capoeira you wouldn’t necessarily expect them. I think it would be well worth adding them in for a more complete program. The training In this section Taylor outlines how the capoeira conditioning exercises can be arranged into workouts. He gives lots of examples of 7 1/2, 15 and 30-45 minute sessions, with different difficulty levels for each length of time. Each session involves a small selection of movements performed as a circuit. You could get in great condition following the examples in the book but it is also clear that after spending a bit of time with the exercises in the book you could easily start to structure your own training sessions. The potential combinations are pretty much endless. The exercises This section of the book is good but would be better with some more detail at points. Each exercise is clearly explained with multiple pictures and there are loads of exercises to choose from. There are also some clear progressions among the exercises so you can progress your sessions as you get fitter and stronger. The jump between progressions can be a bit big though. One progression goes from a cartwheel to a cartwheel that lands in a pistol, with no detail of how to build up to the pistol. This is fine for me as I am using the book as a compliment to other training but would make it more difficult to use it as the only book that you follow.
If you are looking for a rewarding and highly enjoyable way to get in shape, that uses no equipment, you could do a lot worse than buy this book. At stages you would need to add to the information in the book to help progress through the exercises, but all the extra info can be found on the internet pretty easily. All in all this is a great book. I’ve done a couple of exercises from it every training session for the past few weeks and am loving it.