The Capoeira Blog


Can There Be Too Much Of A Good Thing With Capoeira?
May 19, 2008, 11:19 am
Filed under: Capoeira Life, Questions


Photo by tdaenuwy (Flickr)

A few weeks ago, Joaninha gave the warning signs that your capoeira group is like a jealous lover. I think her post was mostly in good fun, but it got me thinking.

When can the excitement and passion we all have for capoeira cross the line and become detrimental to our personal and professional lives?

Have you ever picked capoeira over your family? Over your non-capoeira friends? How did it make you feel? More importantly, how did it make them feel?

Do you ever feel that your capoeira expenses (travel time/cost, monthly fees, long distance travel/batizado costs, gear) can get to be too much, but you follow through with them anyway because you feel that your obligated (instead of because you want to)? Or maybe you feel that you don’t want to offend your group?

Does your capoeira group understand that money and time doesn’t grow on trees? Or do they sometimes look down on you when you can’t fly across the country 5 times a month or come to class every day?

I’ve gone to more than one capoeira class more because of guilt than devotion. I’ve felt the “evil stare” when I say I can’t come to a certain event or if I need to miss class for a while.

For me, capoeira comes secondary to the most important things in my life (family, friends, work, etc). Capoeira is my hobby; it’s not my life (some may take issue with that, which I will get to in the next paragraph). It’s a big part of my life to be sure, and it influences who I am, but it doesn’t define me. It’s no secret that capoeira is a very time and cost intensive hobby, and for some people that is perfectly fine and no problem, but for others I’m sure it can get to be overwhelming (I can’t be the only one in the entire capoeira world who has felt this way).

Have you ever felt that people think you aren’t “passionate enough” about capoeira? That there is an expectation that if you don’t devote a ton of your time to capoeira that you’re somehow unworthy to be a capoeirista? It sucks to admit that I have felt this “you’re not worthy” sense from people in the past, but thankfully it has been in a small minority of capoeiristas I’ve come across.

But, nonetheless, it can start to wear on you. You can start to question things… Am I not good enough for capoeira? Do I spend enough time developing my capoeira skills? Do I travel enough? Do I know enough about the history? Am I less of a capoeirista because I don’t know Portuguese or haven’t been to Brazil?

There are some capoeiristas who devote their lives to capoeira, and who have managed to successfuly blend their personal and capoeira lives (and sometimes their professional lives as well). I think their devotion is amazing, and if it works for them then it’s great!

But, I don’t think it works for every capoeirista out there. And sometimes, it can get to be very overwhelming. There have been times when I’ve spent more time worrying about capoeira than practicing capoeira, and that’s not a good thing.

I’m not sure that I answered the question, “can there be too much of a good thing in capoeira?” but I don’t think I really intended to do it myself. What I love about this blog is the conversation, so I’m hoping that you will have some insight that you can share with everyone in the comments.

Do I make any good points? Or am I just being a whiny pessimist? What strategies do you use to solve the life/capoeira conundrum? Is it even a problem for you?



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

greatcapoeirista
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.



Shoes or No Shoes?
February 26, 2008, 11:24 am
Filed under: Capoeira Life, Questions

capoeirashoes
Photo by Allison McCarthy (Flickr)

I’ve hardly ever worn shoes while playing capoeira (unless it’s on concrete).

I feel a lot more liberated and unrestricted when I play barefoot.  This may be because I’ve never gone out and bought a pair of martial arts type shoes to play in; but playing in Adidas sneakers feels very clunky and awkward.

But there are some people who wear shoes all the time, whenever they play.  Most of these shoes are lightweight, have thin soles, and don’t really seem to get in the way.

I’ve seen a few different places online where they sell “capoeira shoes” but I have no experience with any of them, and I don’t want to buy a pair and have them end up being crappy.  I also know a few people who wear Puma or Adidas martial art shoes or just light sneakers.

I would love to write up a resource or review of capoeira shoes around the internet, but I really just don’t have the experience.  So I’m going to put it out there to you, my faithful and knowledgeable readers.

What’s your take on playing capoeira with shoes on?

I guess this might just go for regionalistas, because (correct me if I’m wrong) it’s common for angolerios to play with shoes.  Though, I’d love to hear from any angola players out there on what shoes they prefer.  And if you’re a regional player I’d like to know if you play with or without shoes.  If you do play with shoes, what kind do you find to be the best fit for capoeira?



What Capoeiristas Can Learn From Super Bowl 42
February 4, 2008, 10:34 am
Filed under: Capoeira Life, Off Topic

superbowl42

If you’re an American sports fan, you may have witnessed what was perhaps the greatest upset in football (nay, all of sports) history yesterday.  The underdog  New York Giants surprised the world and defeated the almost perfect New England Patriots 17-14.

Whether you’re filled to the brim with glee, or trapped in a pit of sullen despair, I think there are a few things that every capoeirista can learn from this latest Super Bowl.

  1. Even though you may be small, you still have the ability to topple a giant.
  2. Protection is very important; don’t drop your arms or do weak esquivas or you’ll end up getting beat up like Brady (where was his protection!?).
  3. Each game is a new one, so forget about what happened in previous rodas, and focus on the moment.
  4. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always someone out there who can land  a rasteria that knocks you right on your keister.
  5. Perfection isn’t everything; so don’t worry about always being the best, just worry about doing your best.

I could probably think of a few more, but I’m still in shock.



Why You Need A Capoeira To-Go Bag
January 31, 2008, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Capoeira Life

Do you have a capoeira “to-go” bag?

Many people have to-go bags for short trips, or for going to work in the morning, or for the gym. I happen to have a to-go bag for capoeira.

A to-go bag allows you to to take off and go at a moment’s notice. It should include all of the essentials for wherever or whatever the destination may be, so that you don’t have to spend a half hour rummaging around your house looking for stuff you need to bring. It’s a good feeling knowing that you always have your necessary stuff ready to go.

Here’s a look at what’s in my capoeira to-go bag right now (sometimes there may be more, sometimes there may be less):

captogobagstuff

  1. Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form by Mestre Acordeon (I brought this to class one day and haven’t taken it out yet.)
  2. Ankle wrap (I used to use this every time I played, sort of like a crutch, but lately I’ve been trying to ween myself off of it. It stays in there just in case.)
  3. Capoeira CDs (You always have to be ready with the music!)
  4. Empty Fruit2O bottle (Hydration is very important, kids!)
  5. Capoeira beanie (It’s cooold where I live these days. Though, I don’t keep it in there all the time because it might start to smell…)
  6. Rock (I found this on the ground one day and thought it would make a good dobrao.)
  7. Bic pen (For writing!)
  8. Extra caxixi (This one is small, so it just hangs out in the bag.)
  9. Capoeira notebook (I’ve had this since I started the capoeira club at my college. I keep lessons, ideas, names, and all sorts of random stuff in it. It goes well with the pen.)
  10. Axe deodorant spray (This isn’t in the picture, because for some reason I forgot to lay it on the floor with the rest, and I’m too lazy to take another picture.)

So there you have it, the inner workings of Faisca’s Capoeira To-Go Bag. Usually before I leave the house I’ll throw my cell-phone, wallet, and anything else I might need for the day in there as well. But this list stays in there most of the time.

And if you were wondering what holds all of these treasures:

captogobag

This is a bag that I’ve had since 2000 or so. It’s a Gap one-strap bag with two front pockets and a surprisingly large main compartment. It also has a cell-phone holder on the strap, which is convenient. This little gray darling has served me well for almost 10 years (though, it does smell something awful inside, hence why I now only use it as my capoeira bag).

If you were thinking about putting together your own capoeira to-go bag, here are some essentials I think everyone should have:

  • Water bottle (one that you can refill)
  • Pen and paper (you never know when you’ll get an idea for an awesome combination, or when you’ll get a number from a fly capoeirista)
  • Capoeira CDs (always be ready to play)
  • Braces/wraps/tape/etc. (so you don’t forget your important injury-prevention tools)
  • Deodorant (you know we get pretty smelly after training)
  • Perhaps a quick change of clothes (a shirt or two in case you really get sweaty)

Do you have anything else to add to the list? What’s in your capoeira to-go bag? Let us know in the comments.



Become a Master Capoeira Pickup Artist With These Capoeira Pickup Lines!
January 30, 2008, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Capoeira Life

Have you ever seen a fly lookin’ capoeirista but didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to say to get them “in the roda.” Well now you have nothing to fear with Mandingueira’s tried and true* capoeira pickup lines!

By the way, these are gender neutral, so guys and girls can try them out and see what happens!

  • Are you a capoeirista? Because you just turned my world upside-down.
  • You must have lots of mandinga, because I’ve fallen under your spell!
  • That’s too bad that you lost your pandeiro, but if you want you can bang me instead.
  • If I play you hard enough in the roda, will you go volta ao mundo with me?
  • Hi, are you an angoleiro/a? That’s great, ’cause I’m regional—what say we get together and be contemporary?
  • I’m surprised you have an apelido, because to me you are indescribable!
  • You know, your abada would be cleaner if you didn’t wear it at all.
  • If I gave you rasteira would that sweep you off your feet?

Credit goes to Joaninha for these. I just had to share them with you.

*I’m not sure any of these have been field tested. Use them at your own risk. Neither The Capoeira Blog or Mandingueira will be held responsible if the only response you get is a meia lua to the face.



Visiting Another Capoeira Group
January 16, 2008, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Capoeira Life, Questions

visitgroup
Photo by pintado.galeria (Flickr)

Tonight I’m going to be visiting another capoeira group here in Massachusetts. This is the first time that I’ve really gone and trained at another school (rather than just play and mess around with people from other groups), and I’m both excited and a bit nervous.

What is your experience like training with and visiting other groups? Have you been welcomed with open arms? Or welcomed with a meia lua to the face? I’m hoping my experience goes well (and I’m sure it will).

And what about when others pay a visit to your own group? Do you treat them as one of your own (part of the big capoeira family)? Or do you perceive them as outsiders?

Personally, I despise the “politics” that tends to happen in capoeira. If it were up to me, capoeiristas would all get along and we would all just be brothers and sisters in capoeira. But sometimes, depending on group affiliations and other things, this is not always the case.

I think the most important thing is to have respect for whatever group you’re visiting. You may do something one way in your class, but when you’re at another school you should pay attention to how they run things, and have the courtesy and respect to follow their lead.

I’m sure different people will have different opinions about this sort of thing, so I’d like to hear all of them! Share your thoughts in the comments!