Jorge Goia came across capoeira in the early 1990s, while working with Roberto Freire, a pioneer in therapeutic uses of capoeira.
He then studied Capoeira and Soma in his MA and PhD in Social Psychology, at UERJ, Rio de Janeiro, where he was interested in the changes these two techniques can stimulate, and how the body awareness and skills they develop can affect emotions, feelings and behaviour. He proposed both Soma and Capoeira as a learning process of relational skills, which produce new ways of surviving and living in the world, and as such constructed an approach that goes beyond dualist models of mind/body or individual/society.
Created in Brazil by Roberto Freire as an anarchist therapy for activists fighting the military dictatorship, Soma focuses in challenging hierarchical relationships, observing the body as material to talk about collaboration, trust, self-esteem, emotions and feelings. An opportunity to study the micro-political and the everyday through our bodies’ response to certain physical exercises, the sessions work out of a framework which incorporates the theories of Wilhelm Reich, anti-psychiatry, Gestalt, the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira Angola and the practice of self-organisation and solidarity. Soma seeks to inspire skills that can transform the way we perceive the world, re-building the body, its dwelling and livelihood. The collaboration resulting from the shared playfulness (and subsequent reflective dialogue) of soma games stimulates the whole being to engage more fully with the world. The somatic experience places the body at the center of the personal, socio-political, and cultural project of affirming wellness, as we practice taking risks to thrive in healthy ways and be creative in everyday life.