Capoeira Moves for Hip and Back Mobility

Capoeira Moves for Hip and Back Mobility

How to Make ‘Brazilian Dance Fighting’ Your Next Leg Day Warmup

 

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, music, and acrobatics. Known by many as Brazilian dance fighting, few martial arts require more strength, flexibility, and agility than Capoeira.  

 

The following basic Capoeira movements are an ideal warmup before any athletic activity, including strength, interval, cardio, or martial arts training. These dynamic moves will challenge you to rhythmically shift your body forward, backward, vertically, and laterally. In addition to increasing your heart rate, this progression will warm large muscle groups while also activating the ankles, knees, hip flexors, low-to-mid back, and shoulders. 

 

Capoeira Moves and Basics

Below are 6 basic Capoeira moves. Beside their traditional Portuguese names is a rough English translation. Perform each exercise in succession for 1 minute, resting 30 to 60 seconds between each. The complete warmup is listed below:

1.       Ginga (60 seconds)

2.      Front Lateral Dodge (60 seconds)

3.       Lunging Dodge (60 seconds)

4.      Sideways Squat (60 seconds)

5.      Front Leg Kick (60 seconds)

6.      Roundhouse Kick (60 seconds)

7.       Freestyle round, combine all movements (60 seconds)

 

“Ginga” – Beginning Stance

Traditionally, all Capoeira movement is made through the Ginga. Every sport has a stance, or starting position from which other moves are performed. In traditional Capoeira, that stance is a moving stance called the Ginga. In this dance-inspired martial art, the Ginga is a rhythmic lateral shuffle that sets the stage for other blocks, dodges, and strikes.

 

Instructions:

1.       Begin by standing in an athletic position, knees slightly bent and arms at your sides

2.      Bring your hands to chin level, palms facing forward

3.       Step your left foot laterally about 1 foot

4.      Step your right foot backward and to your left, placing it in alignment with your front (left) foot

5.      As your right foot hits the ground, smoothly shift about 60% of your body weight backward, keeping your elbows tucked and palms at chin level

6.      Push off your right foot to step forward and to your right, placing your right foot in horizontal alignment with your left foot

7.       Step your left foot diagonally and back, placing it in alignment with your right foot

8.      As your left foot hits the ground, smoothly shift about 60% of your body weight backward, keeping your elbows tucked and palms at chin level

9.      Repeat these steps to shuffle from side to side, using your arms to find and keep a rhythm

 

“Esquiva Lateral” - Front Lateral Dodge

The Front Later Dodge is often used to dodge an opponent’s front kicks and palm strikes. In addition to being an important defensive maneuver, this movement warms the core by combining a squatting motion with a lateral spinal abduction. 

 

Instructions:

1.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side, so your left foot is forward and your right foot is back

2.      Push off your right foot to step forward and to your right, placing your right foot in horizontal alignment with your left foot

3.       Bend your right leg as your foot hits the ground, keep your chest up, and lean your upper body to your right

4.      As you lean right, bend your left arm 90 degrees and cover your chin and nose

 

Note: This technique is often used to protect the face from an opponent’s strikes. When covering your face, look forward and below your elbow. In Capoeira, this allows you to protect yourself without losing sight of your opponent. 

 

5.      Keep your left foot planted and perform the Ginga shuffle back to your left side, stepping your right foot back

6.      Continue to Ginga until your reach your right side, so your right foot is forward and your left foot is back

7.       Push off your left foot to step forward and to your left, placing your left foot in horizontal alignment with your right

8.      Bend your left leg as your foot hits the ground, keep your chest up, and lean your upper body to your left

9.      As you lean left, keep your gaze forward as you cover your chin and nose with your right elbow

 

“Esquiva Recuada” – Lunging Dodge

The Lunging Dodge is one of the most basic Capoeira movements, and it is very similar to a traditional lunge. On the most basic level, this movement delivers a deep stretch to the hip flexors. As you sink further in to your lunging dodge, you may also feel a stretch in your calves, lower back, and side body (obliques, lats, serratus, and rear deltoid).

 

Instructions:

1.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side, so your left foot is forward and your right foot is back

2.      Push off your right foot to step forward and to your right, placing your right foot in horizontal alignment with your left

3.       Step your left foot diagonally and back, placing it in alignment with your right foot

4.      As your left foot hits the ground, keep a micro bend in your knee and square your hips forward

5.      Sink down into your front (right) foot, bending about 90 degrees at your knee

6.      Plant your right hand on the outside of your right foot and swing your left elbow up to cover your chin and nose

7.       Lean your upper body slightly to the right

8.      To move out of your dodge, straighten your right leg

9.      Perform the Ginga shuffle back to your left side

10.   Repeat the Ginga shuffle back to your right side

11.   Repeat steps 2 through 7 to perform the side dodge on your left side

 

“Esquiva Invertido” – Sideways Squat

The Sideways Squat is another basic Capoeira movement, and it is similar to a traditional bodyweight squat. Like the Lunging Dodge described above, Capoeristas move in-and-out of this position by utilizing the Ginga shuffle. Sideways Squat is primarily used to dodge an opponent’s kicks, but in this warmup, it is used to fully activate the lower body’s largest muscle groups. In addition to firing up the quads and hamstrings, this movement continues to warm the knees and lower back.

 

Instructions:

1.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side, so your left foot is forward and your right foot is back

2.      Push off your right foot to step forward and to your right, placing your right foot in horizontal alignment with your left

3.       Step your left foot diagonally and back, placing it in alignment with your right foot

4.      As your left foot hits the ground, turn your feet, hips, chest, and shoulders sideways so you are facing inward

5.      Bend both legs, sit back, and squat down

6.      Left your front (right) elbow up to protect your chin and nose

7.       As you sink down, gently lean your upper body forward

8.      Keep your spine straight and hinge 45 degrees forward from your waist

9.      To move out of your sideways squat, straighten both legs and pivot both feet forward

10.   Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side

11.   Repeat steps 4 through 10 to perform the Sideways Squat on your left side

 

“Meia Lua de Frente” – Front Leg Kick

The Front Kick is one of the most basic Capoeira attack moves, representing an effective weapon that is easily accessed while performing the Ginga shuffle. It also improves strength and range of motion through the hips, requiring not only an extension of the leg, but also a slight adduction toward the midline of the body.

 

Instructions:

1.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side, so your left foot is forward and your right foot is back

2.      Push off your right foot to step forward and to your right, placing your right foot in horizontal alignment with your left

3.       Lift your left leg straight up, then arc it through the air from left to right

4.      While making your arc, imagine you are tracing a rainbow shape

5.      When you get to the end of the rainbow, stop and pause briefly, holding your foot motionless in mid air

6.      Step your right foot back, landing in your left-side Ginga

7.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your right side

8.      Repeat steps 2 through 6 to repeat the Front Kick with your right foot

 

“Queixada” – Roundhouse Kick

The Roundhouse Kick is another common move in Capoeira. Like the Front Leg Kick, this movement strengthens and improves range of motion through the hips. Unlike the Front Leg Kick, however, it does so through an abduction motion (from in-to-out). This recruits the glutes and outer thigh in addition to hip flexor and core stabilizer muscles, forcing each to elongate as the leg moves through its long, circular motion.

 

Instructions:

1.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side, so your left foot is forward and your right foot is back

2.      As your right foot lands on the ground, pivot your feet and turn your hips, chest, and shoulders so you are facing inward

3.       Take a small step forward with your left foot

4.      Take a big step forward with your right foot, planting it just behind your left

5.      Lift your left leg, pivot on your right foot, and use your left hip to arc your left leg from right to left

6.      As your left leg comes down, step straight back and into your right side Ginga

7.       Perform the Ginga shuffle to your left side

8.      Perform the Ginga shuffle to return to your right side

9.      Repeat steps 2 through 8 to repeat the Roundhouse Kick with your right leg 

 

Freestyle – Putting it All Together

As a dance, Capoeira requires a give-and-take between participants in which one practitioner always returns the attack of another. In your final round, visualize yourself dancing with another Capoeira practitioner. If they kick, you dodge. If you attack, be sure to retreat back into your Ginga and perform a series of dodges. The key is to improvise and flow, letting one move lead into the next. If you get stuck, remember that you can always shuffle back-and-forth in the Ginga until you think of your next move.   

 

Moving Forward: Making Mobility a Priority

Mobility is a growing concern among athletes of every age. In addition to having a direct impact on performance, mobility plays a big role in determining quality of life.

What's another way you like to warm up for leg day?

 

Don’t let mobility issues prevent you from reaching your peak potential. Learn more about the Mobilitas 7 day mobility program, a free PDF download that will have you moving and feeling better in just 7 days. 

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