The Capoeira Blog


How I Became a Capoeirista
August 27, 2007, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Faisca

There are as many different stories about how people got started in capoeira as there are people who play capoeira. Some are similar, some are very different, but they all have something in common: each of us fell in love with something that would end up changing our lives forever.My capoeira journey began when I was in 8th grade.

I can clearly remember the first time I ever heard the word capoeira. I was hanging out at my house with my best friend when he said that he found this new martial arts style. He had watched a movie about it, and it was the coolest thing he ever saw. I asked him to show me some moves, and he started to do his “version” of the ginga. Instead of the graceful movement I’m now familiar with, he looked more like a bull getting ready to charge.

I promptly laughed at him and told him that this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen.

I would change my mind, however, when he showed me the actual movie he was talking about. The movie was Only the Strong. Anyone who has seen Only the Strong knows how cheesey and typically 90’s it is, but at the time I loved it, and I was hooked. I still love it, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

So there I was, faced with the coolest thing I’d ever seen, but with no way to learn it.

faiscabatidoold.jpg
Faisca, circa 2002.

Instead of sitting around crying about it, my friend and I decided to learn all we could about capoeira, and attempted to teach ourselves. We studied the moves of Eddy Gordo of Tekken 3 fame, we practiced in front of the TV watching Panther Production training videos, and we printed out and copied moves from Chimp’s capoeira site. We needed music, so I recorded “Paranue” and “Zum Zum Zum” off of Only the Strong onto a casette, and substituted traditional music (because we had no idea where to get it) for breakdancing beats.

We knew that capoeiristas had nicknames, so we wanted some of our own. I bought a portuguese dictionary, and we flipped through it looking for the coolest sounding names. My friend decided on Vispa (wasp), but I couldn’t choose anything from the dictionary. I decided to borrow the name of the world’s most famous video game capoeirista, and I began to call myself Faisca (spark). We knew that you weren’t supposed to give yourself a name, but we figured we’d never find a mestre to train with.

We were wrong.

One day, while out shopping for furniture with my parents, I came across a Brazilian imports store, so I decided to go in and have a look around. I asked the person at the counter if he knew about capoeira, and he said yes. “In fact,” he said, “there is a capoeira school right here in the back of this store.”

My jaw dropped.

He told me to follow him, and he led me through a door in the back of the shop. We entered, I thought, capoeira heaven. There was a huge mural of two capoeiristas on one wall, and floor to ceiling mirrors on the other. Berimbaus and other instruments leaned against a counter, and the school’s logo was painted on the floor. It was awe inspiring.

originalschool.jpg
Faisca at the original building.

The store owner told me when classes were held, and in two days time I would find myself at my first capoeira class.

The group was called CapuraGinga, and classes were taught by a mestre named Loka. He was so impressed with what Vispa and I knew, he asked us if we were Brazilian. I’m sure he was joking, but it made me feel great. To my surprise, he decided to stick with the names that we gave ourselves. Even though I had been teaching myself for over a year, I quickly figured out that I had much to learn. Already knowing the basic vocabulary and movements helped me to progress quickly, but I really had no idea how to play the game.

Take this as a lesson, kids, it is very important that you learn from a mestre or qualified instructor. If you don’t, you may know how to throw some kicks, but you have no idea how to play capoeira.

I trained with CapuraGinga religiously until college, when I could only make it once a week at most. In order to practice while I was at school, I started the Assumption College Capoeira Club. I was a bit surprised, though, that not one other person at the college actually knew capoeira. Many people knew what it was, or had seen Only the Strong or Eddy Gordo, but nobody besides me actually knew how to play capoeira.

Thus is the story of my capoeira journey.

Do you have a similar story, or is yours quite different? Tell us in the comments!

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26 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

A friend of mine was training in kick-boxing and he suggested that I go along for a look. The following day I walked into the wrong room in the sports hall and instead of finding kick-boxing I saw this indescribable combination of acrobatics, martial arts and ritual in the form of the roda. I was instantly hooked and have been training ever since with Grupo Candeias in Ireland.

Axé

Highlander

Comment by Highlander

I am thinking of trying capoeia myself, despite how old I am (41), and I enjoyed reading your story, I found it inspirational. But I can’t tell if you are a man or a woman, how old you are now, do you still do capoeira?

Thanks,

Lucas

Comment by Lucas

@Lucas, Well it would be easy to tell that I’m a man and what I’m up to in capoeira now by looking at the About page. But yes, I’m a 23 year old guy, and I take/teach capoeira.

I think you’d be surprised that even though you may think you’re too old, there are capoeiristas of all ages and abilities. You might not be able to do all of the crazy acrobatics (but maybe you will, and they aren’t central to capoeira anyway) but you’ll definitely be able to enjoy many of the benefits capoeira has to offer. I would say go for it!

@Highlander, isn’t it amazing how quickly some of us can fall in love with capoeira? Your story is interesting too, and it goes to show what I mean about how many different ways there are to get into capoeira.

Comment by faisca

I fell in love with Eddie Gordo when I younger, then after finding the “Capoeira Fighter” on Shockwave one day in Computer Science class in high school, then I saw “Meet the Faukers” and when I heard that he did it, I couldn’t believe that it was a true art, found out about local classes, and then started like a week or two after find out about it.

-Phil

Comment by Phil

I believe that capoeira can be learned by everyone and anyone who is interested in taking control of their body. Its a flow and more than ever… its fun. I am also new to capoeira, and I must say that I enjoy it very much.

Comment by ZNS

Well said, ZNS. Good luck as you grow in capoeira. By the way, nice blog.

Comment by faisca

i came into capoeira just because i was hungry to get into a a martial art, and it just so happens that this academy was just a few blocks away from me. think im one of the few young capoeiristas that didnt get into it because of eddy gordo or only the strong (even though they both kick ass) but yeah, capoeiras done more than keep my body in shape, it helped me confront my weaknesses and for that i am forever greatfull

Axe.

Comment by Relampago

I think i had just seen alot of capoeira throughout my childhood (street rodas and demos), that when Mestre Loka opened up the school in leominster I was just all for it you know…

Comment by Rapadura

I love hearing these stories, keep them coming!

Comment by faisca

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One day I saw a poster advertising classes in my school. As some sort of destiny I decided to try some research until I was so bold as to go to a class, at which I was rather shaky, just watching all these people doing handstands. The beginners’ class looked way too complicated.

I’ve been playing 2 and a half years now 🙂

Comment by quem sem apelido

Playing for two years and still no nickname? Haha just playing. I love seeing new people come into capoeira (especially when I’m the one to introduce them to it) and get over the initial “fear of handstands and backflips” or whatever apprehensions they have. It’s a good feeling.

Comment by faisca

Love reading this stuff to. for the one with 41 years.. I started practicing at 49 years old and I just turned 51. Now I can not live without Capoeira, it helped my health too.

Comment by Vinnie

Wow Vinnie, that’s awesome. Just goes to show that capoeira is for everyone!

Comment by faisca

Hi I am from Goa, India, and I would not call myself a capoeirista.

I was always interested in martial arts from the time Bruce Lee’s enter the dragon came out. I started Karate when i was 12, then progressed to Taekwando, then to tai chi and finally ended up doing a lot of Muay Thai and MMA. I used to watch a lot of action flicks like the kickboxer series, and in one of these movies there was this one black man with white pants acting like a monkey, (he got his ass handed to him) and they introduced him as being from Brazil. It got me thinking, there was no way that there could be a martial art which would be so useless in a fight. So i started talking about it to many people to find out what this artform could be, it is not until a few months ago that i finally managed to touch the world of Capoeira, thanks to a 1/2 hour story on NGC.

I started researching it on the internet and met up with a mestre in Bombay, although i cannot learn it from him because of the distance i bought some books written by Mestre Nestor Capoeira and have been trying to learn ever since. Yes i know that i need to learn it from a Mestre, but i have no choice as there is no one who teaches where i stay. If I have to learn from the Mestre in Bombay it will take me 12 hours by train.

So till someone comes here to Goa, i just have to stick to learning from Mestre Nestor Capoeira

Comment by Ze

Ze, welcome to The Capoeira Blog! Good to see people from all around the world.

If I’m not mistaken, the “black man in white pants” you’re talking about is Mestre Amen, I know he was in one of the Kickboxer movies.

I’m glad you’re starting to get into capoeira. It’s always hard when you don’t have someone to train with, but those books are a great start! I’m not sure that even I would want to take the 12 hour trip back and forth just to play capoeira…

Comment by faisca

i’ve always been into martial arts.. as a kid i did karate, then abit of ju jitsu. All my life i’d known about capoeira.. well, in one form i suppose. I loved playing a playstation game ‘Bust a Groove’.. where one of the characters (my second favourite character) was called ‘Capoeira’, and featured some capoeira moves such as Au Batido and Ginga. So all my young life i’d known abit about capoeira… just not in its regular form.

Then (as most young capoeiristas started out) i played Tekken 3.. favourite character was Eddy Gordo. And one day last year, after so many years of Bust a Groove and Tekken, a friend of mine says ‘you know what capoeira is right?’ .. i said ‘yeah, them 2 funky aliens in bust a groove’

he gave me a funny look then, and showed me a video of a roda.. i was blown away. I kept watching the thing over and over. Then my friend said to me that there was a capoeira school 5 minutes walk from his house. So one day we walked there.. that was almost 2 years ago.. and i’ve been hooked ever since 🙂 6 months after i joined i received the name ‘Tocador’ because i love playing guitar 🙂

Comment by Tocador

I’m pretty new but I found out on youtube. I was searching around for videos and found one of a mestre pulling off amazing moves and kicks and some roda footage. like many people I was stunned by the fluid movements and acrobatic moves.
Currently I purchased the little capoeira book and am teaching myself. Wish I knew a school near me though :/
It’s kinda limiting I think and wrong to do it alone from what I understand.
But I had a chance to spar with someone at this club of people who get together and spar with each other and won^^ Capoeira vs kickboxing, I used a takedown and pinned him. I know that’s not fully in the spirit of capoeira but I really wanted and needed the chance to practice on someone lol

Comment by Jonsul

Im 26 havnt played capoeira in 5 years .Bt as everyone else my journey started at 14 with only the strong about 3yrs later i started breakdancing and i met up with some rastafarins who tought me there style very interesting indeed . We would incorparate it our bboying which was awesome . Basically i learnt that bboying or breakdancing is a reckless style while capoeira is more disciplined dont get me wrong i was quite good in both entered battle of the year in cape town .A few years lately i broke my arm from skateboarding yes i was bit of an extremist back then . Bt after all these years my heart stil burns for the capoeira spirit the dance the moves the way of life .There are no schools nearby by me which teaches capoeira and thru all this everything we did was self taught . I even started kickboxing classes wow the instructor was saying how he was trying different style like he just learnt to butterfly kick . My thots if he only knew what i can do . Wel if kickboxing can kick start me gettn back into capoeira im for it plus my health aswell . Peace from the eskaybeast

Comment by Eskaybeast

I have done other `harder’ martial arts in the past and been to the odd capoeira class to try it out but never stayed for one reason or another. bout 6 months ago I was moaning to my little sis that I had nowt to do in the new town I’d moved to so she looked up martial arts, found me a capoeira class and even the No of the bus to get to it. I went along, everyone was friendly and at the roda held at the end one of the higher belts literally picked me up and dumped me in the circle. I tried to use as many of my old martial arts kicks that matched what I’d seen of capoeira, it was the first time I’d sparred with a grin on my face from start to finish. I was hooked!

Comment by Jenny

I FOUND OUT ABOUT CAPOEIRA OVER THIS WEEKEND WHEN I PLAYED TEKKEN 5 I PLAYED CHRISTY MONTEIRO (EDDY GORDO’S GIRLFRIEND) AND I HAVE BEEN LOOKING UP CAPOEIRA EVER SINCE BUT I DONT KNOW IF THEY HAVE CLASSES IN LEOMINSTER MA

Comment by Ethan

a couple of days ago i saw a video and i really liked the game ..i’ve been thinking of it ever since the problem is there are no capeiora schools in the entire country (i live in Egypt) so i don’t know what to do i ‘d really love to learn and play it…can anyone help me

Comment by Ali

i like eddy gordo very much and i also become like him

Comment by Abd Ul Razzaq

I got to know abt capoeira after seein only d strong and then when I played tekken 3 I had dis spark to go do my research on it after d said research I was like but no capoeira schls ard yrs passed and one faithful day wen discussin wit a frd he was like georgy hv u heard of capoeira. And bammmm all d memories rushed back my friend was like he does capoeira now and dat der was a group in his school and at once I learnt d basics from him and wen I got back to school I started downloadin materials on capoeira, watched faisca assumption college group vids, rhoda videos and den I and a frd started out teachin ourselves after schl session dat year wen I got back home I dedcided to visit my frds group and wow was I blown away it was an awesome experience but d group doesn’t hold anymore and der are no capoeira schls down here in nigeria dat I know of so I am left alone now with my frd and all we do is practice everyday, teach ourselves to bcome better capoeiristas and probably start our own group with time axe.

Comment by Georgy

Hey, I’m Edi and i don’t live to far from the school. My story is pretty similar to yours, and as a leominster kid born and raised, i’m pretty happy to have found this. I’m actually planning on checking out the school soon.

Comment by Edi

Why say PLAY capoeira??

That’s why the MARTIAL ART doesn’t get a decent attention, they think it’s all dancing, you PRACTICE Capoeira, not play it.

Comment by albert




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