The road to a capoeira black belt is a long one.
Arion Polkinghorne has spent the past 18 years learning the Brazilian martial art and the next step on his journey has seen him open a school in Nelson.
Born in Ruby Bay, the 39-year-old has travelled the world training under some of the greatest masters alive.
Arion met Mestre Paulino Sabia, one of the founding fathers of ‘Grupo Capoeira Brasil,’ in San Diego while studying architecture.
“Two years later, I travelled to Brazil to fully immerse myself in the culture, language and this beautiful martial art,” he says.
After grafting for thousands of hours Arion has now obtained his green belt giving him “instructor” status.
This means Arion can now host competitions and issue belts.
With the blessing of his master, Arion moved back to Nelson in December to open the school. which now boasts ten regular students ranging from 16 to 64-years-old.
“We have been running for about three months now. We have a huge age range which can be challenging but that’s the joy of it.”
One German tourist was so blown away by the class that he cut the rest of his holiday short.
“He has decided to stay and train capoeira. He now has a job, it has changed his life.”
The martial art has a rich history dating back to the days of slavery.
Fighters would adopt nicknames in order to protect their identities, a tradition which continues to this day.
Arion was affectionately given the moniker of ‘Cenoura’ which is Portuguese for Carrot, due to his red hair.
He says it is a perfect mashup of martial arts and music.
“It can be a performance art or a fight.”
Arion is now three belt colours shy of black which he says is still years away
“I will have at least another four-five years of daily training before becoming a professor, and then I will still have years to go, you do not become a master in capoeira until you are much older and wiser.”
Cenoura’s capoeira classes run Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons out of Trafalgar Hall.
For more info go to https://www.capoeira.co.nz/classes