When we talk about this art that we are so passionate about, we often mention that Capoeira has it all! It is a martial art with acrobatics, music, theatre, dance, philosophy and more! You get to learn Portuguese language!
And on the other hand not so.
As great Bruce Lee said: I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Sad truth is that most of capoeira practitioners don’t know how to kick or swipe properly. Practicing capoeira techniques of attack and defence in Capoeira circles only (and unfortunately, quite often inside a certain group) doesn’t give you true feedback. Training kicks without ever kicking for real will not teach you the damage you’re capable of producing to others or inducing onto yourself. Unconditioned foot striking the solid object (body or bone) can easily be broken. Bad technique executed with contact can cause you a serious injury.
Remember the words of the old mestres: “In the past, capoeira was dangerous, but not violent. Today, it’s violent but not dangerous.”
There is a lot of machoism in our art. Mainly guys (there are women that do this also) who act like bullies. Training a bit in other martial arts and trying to make themselves big through violence in Capoeira circles. Put them in the MMA ring and they don’t fight that well (with few honourable exceptions).
We all should remember that capoeira is played. And you need a partner. So no place for ego here. It’s perfectly good to play the rough game if both players are up for it. And the moment and vibe is right. What is happening most of the times – and what is not acceptable – is bullying.
So sharpen your skills, work on your technique, know how and when to strike and defend. Test your skills with fighters from other styles. That’s where you’ll learn and understand all the pluses and minuses of Capoeira. And be smart. Learning how to evade the conflict or stop it even before it starts to cook is the ultimate mastery. No need to deal with it physically.
There is a similar problem with acrobatics. The floreios are response-specific and executed in a limited and live space, close to the partner. So in a technical way, they are not executed gymnastics-clean. Even the best acrobats in capoeira world would score super low points on gymnastics competition. On the other hand – rare are the gymnasts who would do half of the capoeira tricks in a confined space of a roda, on a hard floor and with a partner in front of their nose.
In most cases, the floreios are not taught tactically and respecting the biomechanics. Often practised on hard surfaces without decent preparation. That’s why most of the capoeiristas that do a lot of acrobatics end up with health issues and stop with the floreios altogether.
Again – be smart. Find a way to train safely. You have only one body.
Usually the beauty and elegance of the moves and live theatre the players do is something that catches the eye. And unfortunately keeps the observer in awe for 5 – 10 minutes only. There is a lot to build on and learn from theatre to make our expression even more interesting, not just for capoeira players but for the audience also. And as a capoeira you already have a solid base. Reach out and build on it.
I’m really grateful for the feeling of rhythm I got through capoeira. Musicality on the other hand is something I started to work a lot on when I realised that I don’t understand simple things like: what makes Brazilian music sound Brazilian? Or Cuban sound Cuban? What makes rock rock?
The questions started to flow in when Katjusa and me started recording capoeira music for our album. Playing the berimbau on metronome? Forget it! It was super-hard in the beginning. Understanding the Hertz in musical note… So much things to get and learn before I can even consider calling myself a beginner in music.
Portuguese language. You cannot be considered serious capoeirista without it. To understand the signals passed by the singer, to get the techniques, to talk to mestres, to drink from a source. There is again a big BUT. You will get Portuguese for capoeiristas for sure. In time. BUT – having an elaborate non-capoeira related conversation is another matter completely.
I know some of you that took that step. Parabens! That’s the way to go. I’m still working on mine. You are my motivation, thank you!
Work on your skills. all of them. Be a complete capoeirista that will leave profound knowledge to the future generations. Frequent the events and workshops. Keep what you find useful, discard the rest. Best,