hellobali - - INFOCUS -

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.

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