A BRAZILIAN LOVE AFFAIR
WHEN AN INDONESIAN MAN FALLS IN LOVE WITH BRAZILIAN HERITAGE
Kenoko Hermiaji, better known as Noko, is a native of Yogyakarta who moved to Bali 11 years ago after spending three disagreeable months living in Jakarta. Once on the Island of Gods, Noko ended up giving inspiration through his passion for Capoeira.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines fighting and dancing. It started in the 1500s among African people who were enslaved by the Portuguese in Brazil as a way of escaping their everyday hardship. This unique activity was named a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.
Noko explains that the word Capoeira derives from the language of the Tupi – a native Brazilian tribe – and refers to the low vegetation where the slaves used to hide.
“Some people think of Capoeira as a martial art. However, I truly believe that Capoeira is an art form. But then again, for those who don’t understand it, the interpretation varies,” says Noko. He’s been doing Capoeira since the year 2000, when he was studying International Relations at the prestigious Gadjah Mada University.
“I started practicing with a Capoeira community in Yogyakarta – all because of a 1995 movie ‘Only The Strong’. The movie itself was pretty cliché, but it was how I was introduced to Capoeira,” explains Noko.
“I started taking Capoeira more seriously and learned about the technical side after I met a friend from England. He taught me how to teach Capoeira properly as well, which I started doing when I arrived in Bali.” The Capoeira community took hold in 2004 in Renon, Denpasar. He then started teaching Capoeira at a number of international schools, alongside his British friend.
Now he is a full-time instructor at Escola Cultural Zungu Capoeira with classes in Seminyak (The Motion Fitness), Ubud (Yoga Barn), Jimbaran (Klub Jimbaran), and Sanur (Hotel Puri Tempoe Doloe).
“Although it is more of a hobby, I really enjoy teaching other people about Capoeira. I find it very rewarding when I’m able to see someone master the movements. I also enjoy the energy that is built up in the circle where the group chants and moves,” adds Noko.