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Capoeira and Aikido: Martial arts go beyond combat

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • There are many martial arts class options in the Monadnock region, but they're all a great way to stay in shape and stay healthy.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    There are many martial arts class options in the Monadnock region, but they're all a great way to stay in shape and stay healthy.
    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Every Monday night at the Mariposa Museum is Capoeira night. On Monday, March 26, substitute Capoeira instructor Abner Soto, of Dublin, teaches a class of five teenage students how to use martial arts moves disguised as a dance to the rhythm of music.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Instructor Jeff Hawkinson, of Hillsborough, teaches the Japanese martial art Aikido three times a week at the Monadnock Business Center in Peterborough. On Tuesday, March 26, he instructs two class participants - Robert McCarthy and Steve Leone - on how to subdue an opponent without using damaging combat moves.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • There are many martial arts class options in the Monadnock region, but they're all a great way to stay in shape and stay healthy.<br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

Capoeira

Originating in South America, Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music with fighting techniques. The class is taught at the Mariposa Museum on Main Street in Peterborough from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday nights by Gahnavi Newsome.

Abner Soto is the person who organizes the Peterborough class, and fills in for Newsome as an instructor from time to time.

Capoeira was designed to look more like a dance to disguise its martial arts roots, Soto explained after a class in March . Capoeira combines moves that work just about every muscle, from upper to lower body.

“It’s very aerobic, and a lot of upper body strength is involved,” Soto said. “We do a lot of cartwheels and jumps, so it really helps work out the upper body for tone and definition.”

Soto said the moves are adaptive to a person’s skill set, so anyone who is new to Capoeira and thinks it may be too difficult is urged to try it out, and eventually confidence will build.

Soto moved to Dublin from Los Angeles about a year and a half ago, and couldn’t find Capoeira anywhere. Eventually he discovered Newsome in Brattleboro, Vt., where she also teaches and the two discussed expanding east to Peterborough.

They are confident that if they get a consistent small group coming weekly, more people will want to join. Right now the average class size is about seven to eight people.

“The overall health benefit is huge,” Soto said. “You’re constantly moving and working your muscles.”

The most basic Capoeira move is called the “ginga,” pronounced jinga. It’s a side step that is used to keep rhythm with the music and to disguise your next move. People who practice Capoeira are constantly doing the ginga and constantly moving. The movement also forces you to shift your body weight a lot, Soto noted.

“It’s like what bobbing and weaving is to boxing,” he added.

Flexibility is a huge part of Capoeira as well, evident in low-to-the-ground escapes and high kicks.

“Capoeira is almost on par with yoga in terms of flexibility,” Soto said. “It’s a great way to get in shape, stay in shape, and have a great time learning this dance and martial art.”

Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art similar to Aiki Jujutsu’s combat-oriented style that relies on principals of movement and balance rather than brute strength.

Aikido classes are taught by Jeff Hawkinson, who has been studying martial arts and Aikido for 21 years. Classes are held three days a week — Tuesday and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. at the Monadnock Business Center on Route 202.

Hawkinson said before a class on a Tuesday night that Aikido focuses more around energy and self awareness rather than strictly how to prepare for combat.

“Aikido is about blending,” Hawkinson said. “You take the energy another person is giving you, and you learn to reflect that energy. It’s still training to prepare for combat, but you don’t want this to degenerate into a wrestling match.”

While Hawkinson said anyone can quickly learn techniques to defend themselves, Aikido teaches the ability to stay calm and focused during chaos.

“The true enemy is within,” he said. “Learning how to control yourself and what’s inside is really what’s important.”

The health benefits of training in Aikido are numerous. Hawkinson said that everything you do in Aikido builds strength, but it also helps regulate blood circulation and promotes everything from posture and balance to relaxation.

“You work on muscles you didn’t even know you had,” he said. “You don’t have to be a professional warrior to learn this either.”

Hawkinson said you don’t have to be a 20-something to start learning. Age-wise, he has had anyone from their teens to others in their 50s come to class. He said that women seem to pick up Aikido faster than men, mostly because men rely on upper body strength, while women are generally more receptive to the principals of aikido, which largely teach how to keep your balance while taking away your opponent’s.

“This is not about how brutal you can be, but about finding yourself,” Hawkinson said.

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