It is also posted to our blog, you can find it on the main 'Blog' Button.
This Article was published today on the 'Unconventional Athlete' magazine. Check it out here:
It is also posted to our blog, you can find it on the main 'Blog' Button.
My name is Amir Solsky, but in the Capoeira world I am known as Contra Mestre Parafina. I got into Capoeira right before I was 18. The art took hold of me for many reasons, as well as my understanding of it deepened throughout the years. At first it was the emphasis on Mobility and Flexibility, later on I found the social aspect very inviting and refreshing, and then onward to appreciate each part the art has to offer, from fighting, to dancing, acrobatics, music and more. Even to this day I still discover new parts about it that thrills me.
We are about to look into one of the basic Capoeira kicks called an Armada (https://youtu.be/YiJUQOKrl3E), which is a spinning kick that has a major part in creating a dynamic game between the Capoeira players. This kick as well as the rest of the Capoeira moves should be performed comfortably where balance should not be an issue. We are training to be comfortable in every part of the technique, same as we do while walking. Therefore we need to be able to perform the move very slow, even to a point where we could completely stop in any instance, as well as performing it very fast.
One of the main components of that ability is the expansion of balance as well as mobility within the ranges of this movement. Balance is easier to achieve while moving fast at first, and then fine-tuned in slow motion.
- A good way to start is by doing sets of standing leg raiser kicks, straight up forward, together with arm switches as in this Pictures and video (https://youtu.be/e_GNi514v3o): (pictures below)
- Following that with a slower knee extension drills to emphasize active flexibility strength:
Start with standing on a leg with the knee locked straight, bring the other knee up as high as you can without bending the bottom knee.
Then extend the higher knee and hold for 10 seconds, then bend the knee and see if you can get it even higher, repeat 6 times for one set of a total of 60 sec hold. build up to 3-5 sets for each side. (pictures below)
In order to develop the physical ability to perform the kick well, a person needs to be mobile in order to avoid some of the pitfalls that we will look into later in this article. Another alignment that should also be used in order to improve flexibility for this kick is in the front split, as well as front split while leaning backward (https://youtu.be/Uf2wjhCW3bc):
Once you take the steps to build and put the skills into what is needed for the Armada, you can then move on to focusing on the actual movement that takes place for this kick to happen. For a correct performance of the kick it isn't enough to be able to lift and swing the leg around correctly; that is the easiest part of the kick. What makes the kick powerful and usable is the footwork that happens just before it.
We will look at two main movements that together will create a quality kick:
The first movement is called the 'Entrada', which is the entrance into the kick. Basically it is a step forward, stepping with your legs parallel to each other and in the direction of your target. (picture below)
From this step you will need to perform a backward spin on your front foot, while pivoting both feet without lifting them off the ground. This spin should end with your chest facing the target, at which point the back leg will leave the ground and become a kick. A good drill for that is performing the Entrada without the kick, and then simply returning back instead of kicking. Without a quality entrance there will not be a quality kick. In other words, the entrance is the kick, improving the entrance will improve the kick. (https://youtu.be/uOWIpo1V1go).
The second step is the 'Balanca', which is a shift of weight from one leg onto the other while your legs are parallel to each other and parallel to the target. This is the position we take prior to the step forward (the Entrada). The wider the step, the more power I could build into the kick (to an extent). If my feet are very close to each other, when stepping forward, I will not be balanced and my kick will be very weak. 'Balanca' is the shift I make from side to side in the Parallel position prior to stepping forward. For example, if we are kicking to the right, we will start in the parallel position with the body's weight on the left foot. (picture below)
Then we will shift that weight onto the right foot (the 'Balanca'), and step forward with the left foot (the Entrada), spinning to the right, backward on our left foot to complete the spin and kick the right leg for the Armada.
This kick isn't very difficult. Usually the problem is mostly with coordination, and once we figure it out, it’s pretty easy. Some people might also have some mobility issues and those should be addressed with the drills above.
Now it’s time for the do's and don'ts. A common problem we see in the kick, is that people shift their heads forward as they raise their leg in front of them. This is usually due to lack of mobility. (picture below) (click on the pictures to enlarge)
When kicking, the body should stay straight just like in standing, maintaining the ability to arch back while kicking if escape is in order from a counter kick.
Another common problem is shifting sideway when kicking. Many people will shift their weight onto the left after a kick to the right has passed the target, making the hip and body tilt sideways,
(pictures below) (click on the pictures to enlarge)
and allowing the kick to pass much higher from the side which is not needed. The problem is that it will take longer to arrive to a safe base and will throw the player out of the center of the spin, therefore out of balance, and will make movement combinations much more difficult.
The kick should be executed with the hips squared and comfortably balanced. (picture below)
After you've practiced and built all of these correct patterns, you might be ready to start training on acquiring the kick.
The first drill will correspond to the coordination needed so that you can figure out your body parts and what needs to happen: (https://youtu.be/C8oZNzKxtJs):
Standing normal, hold you left pants, and move your left leg forward (click on the pictures to enlarge)
Then take a hold of your right leg pants, and take a step backward with your right leg. (picture below)
Once done do it for the other side. for more levels of complexity look at the video link above these pictures.
The second drill is a slow execution of the position we will travel through, to the completion of the kick. Later on these could be performed also faster. (https://youtu.be/biibV92REFY)
There are many continuations from this kick; we could go into another kick, into an acrobatic, into a floor movement, and many more options. Here is a continuation for going into an escape called 'Esquiva Baixa' (Low Escape):(https://youtu.be/dXkYBbknA2Y)
Armada finishing low on the floor in the Low Escape position (pictures Below) (click on the pictures to enlarge)
This kick involves the entire body when done correctly. Most of the impact falls mostly on the legs, as well as the lower back in the connection parts. If you are not used to performing it then these are the areas you will probably feel after training it.
I hope you will enjoy playing and preparing for this beautiful kick. It is one of the main building blocks of the game and it's one of the reasons why the game looks flowy and smooth. The Armada is one of the most basic spinning moves we use for interaction and creation of momentum with the type of movement that will expand as you progress into a big variety of spinning moves and abilities that stem from them.
This article was published at Unconventional Athletes Magazine, to read other interesting content on it go to:
This is a second blog I published on "Onnit" online Magazine, click on the link below to read (in the picture; me playing Capoeira at 19 Y.O.):
3 Advanced Bodyweight Workouts for Capoeira Acrobatics
An onnit Article I wrote: