By Pierre Choisnet
Thomas Racinet is “Professor Pepe-legal”. Originally, it was a cartoon character in Brazil, but the young man appropriated it as capoeira surnamethis Afro-Brazilian martial art which has its roots in the fighting methods and dances of African peoples during the time of slavery in Brazil.
In this sport there is the tradition of the nickname, because for a long time capoeira was prohibited in Brazil. It was to protect himself.
Evasion and slavery
The story, just as much as the technicality of the movements and the music that accompanies them form a whole. The whole finds its meaning in the roots of the past. Example: “In capoeira, we dodge a lot of blows. This comes from the fact that during the period of slavery, it was essential for them to know how to dodge whippings. »
The Healthy Activity Association was created in 2014 by Thomas Racinet and his wife, Mathilde Grignard Racinet, in Louviers (Eure). He is a teacher, she is president. If at the beginning, the association also offered multi-activity sports, it gradually focused on capoeira, via its Biriba Brasil branch.
About thirty children are registered, as well as “15 or 20 adults”. They meet on Tuesdays at the Maison des Sports et des Associations and on Thursdays at the Paul Morin gymnasium, next to the Hamelet college. New this year is the Thursday course for children.
“We train to surpass ourselves”
The teaching of capoeira is done on several levels. The movements have a big part, obviously, but the students also learn the culture and rituals of this sportthey play traditional musical instruments and memorize the songs. “Rhythm is very important in capoeira, that’s why there is music,” says the teacher.
We call it a game, not a dance. There is no loser or winner. It is a very friendly sport. There is no competition, but we train to surpass ourselves.
Ropes and grades
As in judo or karate, the passage of rank is represented. Capoeiristas wear ropes instead of belts. And mastery takes time. “Today, it’s my job, my passion. I started at the age of 12, in 1999, in Rouen. I haven’t stopped since”, slips el “Professor Pepe-legal”, who lives in Val-de-Reuil andHe also gives lessons in Verneuil-d’Avre-et-d’Iton. He adds details: “The green rope is obtained at the end of the first year and the goal is to go towards yellow gradually. There, it attests to the mastery of the music, the ability to sing during the game and to enter the dance, the mastery of the basic techniques. To reach the rope with two yellow strands and two blue strands, you need at least 10 to 12 years of capoeira. The blue rope is a first grade instructor, which allows you to teach. The rank of professor is two blue strands, one yellow and one green. And to get to the master rope, it’s rarely before 30 years of practice. Three of Pepe-legal’s students, who started with him in 2014, arrive at the yellow rope.
Another aspect is important in the eyes of the teacher. For eight years, he has worked with a fifteen children with disabilities from the Moulin Vert medico-educational institute in Louviers.
“I will give them lessons directly there and for the sake of empowerment, they also sometimes come to the Paul Morin gymnasium”, specifies this professional sports educator who also works with a Rouen association, the Portes de l’Academy clinic. Eure, in Vernon, and with various schools. For him, the teaching of capoeira, its principles of tolerance and acceptance must go beyond the framework of his association.
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