The Capoeira Blog

C.A.P.O.E.I.R.A.: The 8 Principles of a Great Capoeirista
March 10, 2008, 7:27 am
Filed under: Capoeira Life

Photo by Nandocunha (Flickr)

Forgive my lack of originality with the premise of this post (specifically, the acronym), but I couldn’t find a capoeira-related word that was comprised of the first letters of words that I wanted to include.

As a result, in coming up with a way to describe what makes a great capoeirista, we have something less witty, yet easily memorable: C.A.P.O.E.I.R.A. (I thought about shortening it to C.A.P.O. but that reminded me of the mafia, so I decided to fuhgeddabudit.)

So here you are, friends, the eight qualities that make a great capoeirista.

A great capoeirista must be:

Creative: I think the creative aspect is one of the top three things that draws me to capoeira. The capoeira game is beautiful, and beauty is best expressed through our creative side. A capoeirista must be creative (I’m not saying you need to be an artist or playwrite, mind you) in order to fully appreciate what capoeira can offer. Your mestre can only teach you so many sequences and movements; you need to be able to put them together in the roda.

Athletic: This is a no-brainer, really. And I don’t mean that you need to have a superhero-like body. Even if you’re “unathletic” before you start doing capoeira, there is no way that you can be a serious capoeirista and not get into somewhat better shape (whether that means becoming more flexible, losing the beer belly, gaining more stamina, etc.). The end result, as you become an actual capoeirista (and a great one at that) is athleticism.

Playful: Another one of the top three things I love most about capoeira: it fits right in with my crazy desire to never “grow up.” You really can’t take yourself too seriously and be a capoeirista. I mean, look at us, in our goofy white pants, jumping all around and “rolling on the floor,” grinning the entire time (well, most of the time). And don’t forget the concept of malicia that is so integral to the capoeira game (Hey, kids, what do you do with games? That’s right, you “play” them!).

Outgoing: Maybe this is the answer to Joaninha’s question about “capoeira colored glasses.” To excell in the art and world of capoeira, you must be able to interact with people and open yourself up to new experiences. Some of the best capoeiristas I’ve met have been the most charming and open people I’ve ever known. The camaraderie among capoeiristas is incredible.

Energetic: Duh! How could there be any rodas without the energy generated by a bunch of hyperactive capoeiristas? If you can stand in a roda without clapping and at least attempting to sing (a few sounds or mumbles here and there is fine if you don’t know the lyrics, it’s the thought that counts), you’re not a capoeirista.

Intuitive: This is a quality that is a bit more subtle than the other, but maybe the most important of all. Capoeira, much to the surprise of many onlookers, is not a choreographed performance. Capoeiristas must be able to think many steps ahead, interpret what the other player is doing or going to do, get inside their opponent’s head, and have lightning fast instincts, in order to really play well.

Respectful: There are many levels of respect in capoeira (for those who deserve it, and some really might not). There is respect for mestres, respect for higher cords, respect for lower cords, respect for capoeiristas of different abilities, respect for other groups, etc. There is almost nothing worse (to me, and to decent people everywhere, I imagine) than a disrespectful person, and this doesn’t stop where the roda begins. For example, whenever a jogo ends up turning into a violent game or throwing match, if the capoeiristas are able to get up, smile, and hug each other at the end (especially if they are in different groups), that is respect.

Amicable: Remember the example that I just gave of hugs at the end of a violent game? That shows great deal of respect, but it’s also indicative of the overwhelming sense of friendship that exudes from capoeira. The smiles I see on the faces of capoeiristas in photographs always makes me proud to be part of the family. Even if I live in Massachusetts and you live in Brazil, we’re all friends in the world of capoeira.

Any given capoeirista may demonstrate one of these qualitities more than another, but I believe that every capoeirista (in order to be considered an “outstanding” or “well rounded” capoeirista) must exemplify all of them at least a little.

Now, there are a number of different words I could have picked for each letter, but the ones I chose are the ones that I feel best represent what it means to be a capoeirista. That doesn’t mean that they are the END ALL BE ALL. And by all means, if you have any other ideas or want to expand on anything I’ve mentioned, please share them in the comments.


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is a really, really good post! The acronym works (haha I don’t know why, seeing as it’s so unrelated to the topic), and I think you hit the nail on the head with every attribute.

I totally agree about the ones that make capoeira so much more appealing to me than other sports too; I’m not athletic at ALL, for starters, and for every other sport I’ve tried you’re doomed from the start, but in capoeira you can just keep going at your own pace until you’ve caught up; and I definitely improved strength, endurance, etc., and discovered my hitherthen dormant flexibility!

The intuition one is right on as well; and I’d add not only while you’re playing a game in terms of what moves your opponent will do, but also being able to intuit expressions and nuances and dynamics going on between people, such as if you want to buy in and they’re on the brink of a fight, or being able to tell if your opponent would take something you do the wrong way or not.
Great job!

Comment by Joaninha

Great posting, Faisca!!!

Comment by Mariposa

Faisca, excellent post. Especially with getting everything to work with all the letters, I was wondering how you were gonna pull that off when starting to read this post. I particularly like the respectful part, in that Capoeira is hard, and it takes time to learn and excel at. Thats why it’s important for leaders to show respect for their students in order to foster a better capoeira education and help them achieve more faster. See you tonight

Comment by Urso

Well done Faisca. I think this post itself shows me that you embody these attributes. I look forward to possibly, one day, meeting you in the roda.

Play Well!

Comment by Mike

nice huh..
your the man bibbow
like it

Comment by leandro

That’s a great piece, I agree!

Comment by Kung Fu

what makes a great capoeirista

Comment by Engracado Capoeira

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