2003 Holland Sentinel Demonstration of martial arts form, for students at Calling All Colors

Martial Arts Form, for students at Calling All Colors
Holland Sentinel

Denny Chen, a Grand Haven High School senior who worked as a facilitator at the conference, helped Ruiz and his group devise the skit to illustrate what can be done to confront discrimination.

Chen said he had participated in the conference before and always enjoyed it. He even found a few stereotypes still lingering in the back of his own mind. “I underestimated you guys,” Chen told his workshop group. “Middle school students are a lot smarter than I thought.”

And these middle schoolers also were adept at learning new skills form a variety of different cultures. Half of the day was spent learning traditional songs and dances from Ireland, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Nepal, Japan, Ethiopia, Kosovo, Albania, Romania, and Kenya.

Like the Mandinga Capoeira. Quintan Murphy and Adrianne Greene circled each other in Hope’s Maas Auditorium, side stepping, and bobbing until one unleashed a round-house kick and the other grace-fully ducked out of the way. Murphy, 12, and Greene, 13, both students at Orchard View Middle School in Muskegon, were demonstrating Mandina Capoeira (Cap-oye-era), an increasingly popular Brazilian martial art.

Jon Allen teaches a Capoeira class at the New Heights Fitness Center in Zeeland. He was at Hope to demonstrate the art form, which involves ritualized motions and dance-like techniques. Aside from teaching his pupils to sway, roll, crouch and kick, Allen also demonstrated the traditional instruments that provide the rhythm for this playful art, and related the history of Mandinga Capoeira, which was developed by Brazilian slaves as a way to practice fighting but make it seem like dancing.

The combination of dancing and play fighting was a hit with the teen-agers. “It’s a lot of fun,” Greene said. “It was different.” Allen said he enjoyed it as much as the children. “I loved it,” he said. “That is what Capoeira is all about…it’s about diversity and getting everyone involved.”