How many times have you been in this situation? You tell someone that you do capoeira and the only response is a blank stare that asks “what in the name of God are you talking about?”
There are numerous ways to describe capoeira, and one of the best ways is to say “go look it up on YouTube and see for yourself” because you really have to see capoeira to know it.
I know that I’ve resorted to “you know, that ‘karate stuff’ that I do” in many situations when you can tell people don’t feel like sitting there listening while you explain the intricacies of the game.
My canned response is usually, “It’s an art form from Brazil that incorporates martial arts, dance, gymnastics, and music.” Which sums it up pretty well, but still leaves much to be desired.
In any news story, the author needs to give a compact description of capoeira in usually as few words as possible. Here are some examples, both good and bad. My commentary follows each quote.
“[C]apoeira, the spectacular Brazilian martial-arts-dance game.” – The Los Angeles Times
The copywriter inside me loves this snappy description. It’s short and to the point, and really sums it up well.
“A martial art form disguised as a Brazilian fight-dance, Capoeira, features sinuous acrobatic play, sweeps, dodges, jumps and kicks. Other characteristic moves include body throws, punches, slaps and elbow-strikes.” – The LSU Reveille
I really like this description. First of all, it pulls at your senses with the word “sinuous,” which is a really good word that provokes an instant idea. It also mentions throws and strikes other than kicking, which I’ve never seen before in an article.
“Brazilian martial arts performance with musical arrangements…” – The Miami Hurricane
Not the most impressive or fleshed out, but it gets the basic point across.
“Originating from Brazil, Capoeira is a fight-dance and martial art sequence originally created by enslaved Africans during the 19th Century. A major difference is that Capoeira does not focus on injuring the opponent, but emphasizes on skill.” – ADOI Magazine
I don’t like it when people use this kind of description while talking about capoeira; the “it’s not full contact/they don’t hurt each other/purposely miss eachother” line. It’s not true, and it only spreads misinformation. Not to mention the line “created … during the 19th century.” Um… No it wasn’t.
“University’s capoeira club, which practices Afro-Brazilian ‘dance fighting.’
Though capoeira is a method of fighting, the actual practice does not involve hitting the opponent, said sophomore Zak Vaudo. Rather, the two “fighters” purposefully miss each other. All this is done to music, which makes the “fight” look more like a dance.” redandblack.com
Again, we see the “purposefully miss each other” take, which is not good. The excerpt also says “Afro-Brazilian” which many articles leave out, for better or for worse.
As we can see, there are good descriptions and bad ones.
One of my favorite descriptions comes from Dias Gomes, a Brazilian playwrite:
“Capoeira is a fight for dancers. It is a dance for gladiators. It is a duel between pals. It is a game, a dance, a struggle, a perfect mixture of strength and rhythm, poetry and agility. The only one where music and singing command the movements. The submission of force to rhythm. Of violence to melody. Sublimation of antagonisms.
In Capoeira the opponents are not enemies, they are comrades. They don’t fight, they pretend to fight. In a very ingenuous way they try to give an artistic view of combat. Above the spirit of competition there is a sense of beauty.
The Capoeira player is an artist and an athlete, a player and a poet.”
Do you have any suggestions for the best way to describe capoeira? Do you have certain examples of things that you like/hate to read or hear?
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