Filed under: Capoeira Life
Photo by culiculicz (Flickr)
The nickname (or apelido, or nom de guerra) is an integral part of capoeira. Originally, nicknames were used by capoeiristas when capoeira was outlawed in Brazil; in addition to taking capoeira underground, capoeiristas would give themselves (or would be given) one or more nicknames in order to escape persecution or arrest.
This tradition continues today, because all capoeiristas are given a nickname. The nickname can be given during a ceremony at a batizado, or in response to something unique in a class. Usually capoeiristas are named by a mestre or instructor, as opposed to something self-imposed. The name can refer to many different things: hair color, style in the roda, a person’s size, a person’s personality or interests, etc. The possibilities are endless (as long as you know Portuguese!). I really don’t think it matters how one gets their capoeira nickname, as long as it is a reflection of them.
The Portuguese for “Wicked Cool Combination of Words” does not cut it in my book.
Sometimes, capoeiristas are known by their nickname better than their real names. Many of the people I know in the capoeira world don’t know my real name, and neither do I know theirs.
To others, I am Faisca, and that’s really all that matters, because it’s my capoeira identity. I’ve even gone so far as to introduce myself as Faisca when I meet non-capoeira people (moreso in college). While I was in college, everyone knew me as Faisca. People would be surprised to learn that my name was actually Mike, or that my last name wasn’t Faisca (Mike Faisca, I got that a lot).
The story behind my capoeira name is untraditional. Faisca means “spark” in Portuguese, which doesn’t really apply to me at all. I wouldn’t consider my style “sparky” or anything remotely close to any connotation of that word. So when I try to explain people why I’m called Faisca it can get a little confusing.
I chose to call myself Faisca when I started to train capoeira on my own. At first, it was nothing more than that I “borrowed” the name from Eddy Gordo. Since then, I feel the name has grown to signify my humble beginnings in capoeira (I learned in part by copying the video game character). I love the name, and I’m glad that my mestre decided to keep it when I started training with him. He even calls my brother Faisquinha (roughly, “little Faisca”).
So how did you get your capoeira name? What does it mean? I like the feedback I got on my How I Became a Capoeirista post, so let’s continue that trend on this one!
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