The Capoeira Blog


What Is Your Favorite Thing About Capoeira?
May 30, 2008, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Questions


Photo by elliotthoffman (flickr)

It’s Friday; here’s something to ponder for the weekend.

What is your favorite thing about capoeira?

Is it the workout? The music?

Is it the socializing? The friendships?

Is it the Brazilian food? The Brazilian women/men?

Is it the fight? The dance?

Don’t cop out and say, “I love everything about capoeira!” Yes, we know, you’re super passionate about capoeira and you love it and that is a great thing. But, there has to be something for you that rises above the rest.

If you are truly just at one with capoeira and you can’t pick something you like the best, well then you can tell us what attracted you to capoeira in the first place.

For me, it’s a tie between the strategy/psychology of the game and the athleticism/acrobatics.

What about you?

Oh, P.S., be sure to come ’round here on Monday. I have something pretty cool in store.



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?



Question: Do You Go To the Gym?
April 18, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Questions

As you may or may not know, I just moved to a new town.  I decided that as part of this “new step” in my life, I’m going to start going to the gym.  This will be in addition to going to capoeira classes, of course.

I’ve never been much of a gym-going fellow.  In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve gone to a gym and trained with weights/machines on one hand.  Most of my strength and aerobic training has come from capoeira (and various other sports), and working out with my own body-weight (push ups, crunches, pull ups, etc). 

And now, a bit of full disclosure from Faisca.  The reason I’ve never gone to the gym is because I’ve always been somewhat scared of gyms.  I love to do capoeira in front of people, and I had no problem performing for dozens of people as a cheerleader.  But thinking about going into a gym where I’m all alone and I have no idea what I’m doing gives me the willies. 

So, my roommate has been going to the gym for a while now, and he (along with my Vin Diesel-sized “little” brother) convinced me that it would be worth my while to give it a shot.  At least I wouldn’t be alone.

And surprisingly, it was great.  Nobody laughed at me because I couldn’t bench 200lbs.  I wasn’t mocked because my form was off during some of my exercises.  It was a pretty good time, to tell you the truth.  And now I’m excited to start an actual workout regimen and looking forward to building up some more muscle.

Now, with all of that out of the way, we finally get to my question:

Do you supplement your capoeira training with time in the gym?  Or are you a pure body-weight strength training machine? 

If you have any experience lifting + doing capoeira, do you have any advice that you would like to share with us?  I would love to get some insight on what my fellow capoeiristas think are the best exercises and routines.

Let us know 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?



How Do You Feel About “Cardio Capoeira” Videos?
February 18, 2008, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Questions

As soon as something starts to become “cool” and “trendy,” you know there are people out there who will try to make as much money off it as they can.

Capoeira is no exception.

If you do a search online you can find a bunch of different “Cardio Capoeira” type workout videos. They come in all shapes and sizes, and I’m not going to bother linking to any of them here (well, except for a couple of example videos), but you know they’re out there.

Some are good, and some are pretty dismal. Here’s an example of each.

Bad:

(I can’t link to the example video from the blog, but go to YouTube and search for “cardio capoeira DVD” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)

I say this is bad because the capoeira in it is just awful. Granted, I haven’t seen the entire video, and I’ve never seen these two play in a roda or anything, but I mean come on; they’re not fooling experienced capoeiristas. You can’t claim to be an instructor of anything when you look like you’ve only been doing it a month yourself.

And I won’t get started on the wannabe quasi-techno capoeira music they have playing…

They are also targeting this “capoeira” workout at “all age levels”, i.e. claiming that adults can’t do any of the ground movements or acrobatics, so they just took that part out of their capoeira, but they’re still leaving the “spirit” of capoeira intact. Last I checked, those are two of the most important parts of the capoeira game. But what do I know?

Good:

(I can’t link to this video either, jeez, but go to YouTube and search for “capofit” and you will find it.)

I actually own this video (I was intrigued, it looked halfway decent, so I decided to order it) and it is pretty good. The instructor is actually good (Professor Fabiano, not sure what group he’s from) and so are his students. What’s amazing is that they’re actually doing capoeira. It’s not some watered-down “workout” version, which is OK with me.

The videos also include footage of rodas and demos (so you can see capoeira in action and you know why you’re doing these movements), and they use real capoeira music on the DVD.

If you’re just learning capoeira, or if you’ve had some instruction but can’t get to a class on a regular basis, I would actually recommend buying these videos so you can follow along and train on your own. This series (and I’m sure there are a few others out there) uses true capoeira as a workout, it doesn’t water-down capoeira and change it at all, which is why I’m OK with it.

So now, the question is, what do you think? As we’ve seen, there are good and bad examples of “cardio capoeira” out in the world. Do you think it’s good for the art? Do you think it’s exploitation of capoeira?

Please share your feelings in the comments!



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!



Thanksgiving Is Almost Here, What Are You Thankful For?
November 20, 2007, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Off Topic, Questions

thanksgiving
Photo by pKolari (Flickr)

Depending on where you live there may be a dusting of snow outside, people are preparing for a nice little vacation, and you can almost smell the turkey in the air already; well, in the United States anyway.

That’s right, Thanksgiving is upon us.

Thanksgiving is a time when we’re supposed to reflect on the things for which we’re thankful, when we should give thanks to the people and experiences that have touched our lives in some way during the past year.

My question to you in preparation of this time of thanks is:

What are you thankful for?

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again (because I can’t say it enough), I owe a huge thank you to all of you out there in internet-land who have supported me while The Capoeira Blog takes its first baby steps.

I’m also thankful for my friends in the capoeira world, both in my group and otherwise, who have helped me to learn new movements (macaco, martelo rodado) and who have given me new insight into capoeira that I seen before.

Lastly, I’m thankful that by the time I finish this post I’ll be able to stop typing the word thankful over and over again.

Is there a certain person, perhaps an instructor or fellow student, who has helped you grow as a capoeirista? Do you owe a thank you to your ankle for healing and allowing you to keep practicing? Or maybe you want to say thanks to the pioneers of capoeira for giving us such a great gift.

So again, what are you thankful for? Leave a comment and let us know! This is a capoeira blog after all, so it would be cool if you could tailor your answer to a general capoeira theme. But please feel free to share anything you want.

I know there’s one thing that we can all be thankful about: capoeira provides us with an excellent way to work off that huge Thanksgiving dinner! Eat as much turkey and stuffing as you want, just make sure to add some extra armadas to your next workout!