Meet the Capoeira trainers: Abd

By: Catri Foot

This sport is different from all the sports. Whoever follows it or watches it, it’s obvious that it’s different from all the sports

Our Capoeira trainer Abd, thinks sports in general are perfect for entertaining oneself, especially children. He agrees with Fares, another trainer in the sense of justice that arises from having no winner or loser – no chance for a discouraging defeat.

Capoeira he says breaks the barrier of shyness for children, developing a beautiful cooperation and assistance between each other.

Abd first learned of Capoeira through Fares, another trainer and a friend from elementary school. Meeting the trainer Amr Al Berzawi and adjusting to the ideas of Capoeira was unusual and surprising for him, as he didn’t know much before about sports. As was the idea of teaching a sport with elements of music, movements, and dance to young children.

In 2013 things changed and Fares told him about the new project and Abd had begun to appreciate the sport for its unique combination with music. And after all, it provided him with a stable job opportunity.

Capoeira gave the children he trained opportunities to escape the mental and social crisis that came about as a result of war, particularly affecting children. Many sought refuge in Nothern Syria, for example in Al Raqqa there were many cases of asylum. Provinces like Al Raqqa and Rif suffered and many got mentally tired.

In capoeira, I’m realizing that it improves their psychological state and gets them out of this crisis and most importantly, it breaks the shyness barrier

He says the sport encouraged boldness, gave the children room to explore and control their emotions – reducing tussle and feistiness, and attracted them to play in front and with each other creating new opportunities to meet others.

For him, just like Fares, the impactful moments have been in the kid’s center where they hosted contests and supported them. They’re kids with autism, so when they smiled it was so powerful.

Abd noticed a child standing on the end during a school performance, not wanting people to make fun of him because of a facial and leg distortion. He chose him and brought him to the front, asking him a question to earn a gift and making him really happy.

These happy moments happening in their lives are something awesome. It’s a feeling that the coach and all the other guys feel… It makes you feel like you made something, that you accomplished something big… This feeling helped us more than the kids, it helped us a lot. You see the happiness in a kid’s face is really priceless

Abd agreed with Mohammed, another trainer, that children began to become more open to playing with each other regardless of gender and improvements were seen in the courage of the children.

Also, another thing is shyness, getting out of their shyness, playing instruments, when we first brought the instruments, the kids didn’t want to play. They were shy; they were some kids who didn’t want to play at all. And there are kids, despite the weirdness of it [playing instruments], they wanted to “give me a beat on the tambourine” as they say. The tambourine is the pandeiro [portugees translation of tambourine].

A while ago, whilst practising capoeira moves negativa, esquiva, povera with the kids, Abd didn’t perform correctly because of an injured knee. He heard the four kids he had taught the movement whispering to each other, “The teacher is messed up”. He says it was only because his knee was messed up.

The training courses affected him in many ways, fitness for one – but most of all for changing his opinion of children. After years of not listening to children, hating children’s voices, he suddenly found children who had taken a special place in his heart.

Abd Alkarim Alaabed