The Case of the Missing Capoeira Class (And What to Do about It)

27 12 2007

It was a day like any other.  The paper was stacking up, the cases were piling in, and the thermometer was about to blow its top.  I’d just lit my last cigarette, when there was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I said.

The door opened slowly.  She stepped in, heels sinking into the coffee-stained linoleum, white gloved-hands trembling, white scarf hiding half her porcelain face; a real damsel in distress. 

“Oh Mr. Malone, it’s terrible!  If only you could help me, I’d be forever grateful!”

“‘S what I’m here for.  P.I. Sam Malone, at your service.  What seems to be the problem, pretty lady?”

Well, she told me.  And it wasn’t a pretty picture.  A job relocation, a popped kneecap, a closed academy, the works.  I told her I’d see what I could do, but it wasn’t looking good.  Still, every P.I. worth his salt has a few leads barking down the old chain.  I opened a new file, titled…The Case of the Missing Capoeira Class.

Detective’s Log: The Case of the Missing Capoeira Class – Leads


Exhibit A: Gym Room

Motive: Keeps you strong, keeps you fit.  Benchpressing is no jogo, but it’ll help you out in your next one (whenever that may be).  Cycle the room, mix things up.  Arms, legs, back, chest, cardio–leave no muscle unworked (except for the muscles around that popped knee cap, if that’s your issue; in that case, work hard on everything else)!  Gym room MIA, went down the same sorry road as that elusive capoeira class?  Look up workout ideas for the home, such as The Capoeira Blog‘s Strength Training Exercises.


Unidentified capoeirista - a shadowy figureExhibit B: Self-Training

Motive: As revealed by Exhibit A, benchpressing is no jogo, and lat pulls are no bananeira.  Just because there’s no Instrutor present threatening to revoke your belt doesn’t mean you can’t do those 60 esquivas on your own!  Making a routine helps–write it out and stick to the list.  Go back to basics, if that’s all you’re confident of working on without a teacher; that may be a blessing in disguise, as you can never do enough of those!


Exhibit C: Videos and DVDs

Motive: I once knew a guy…picked up a couple of capoeira training DVDs, was never the same again.  Finally joined a grupo, and blew everyone away.” “Really, Mr. Malone?” “Yes, really.”  A last resort in my opinion, but a good P.I. must face the facts.  They could help, especially if you are desperate or don’t trust yourself to be self-disciplined enough for self-training.  There are also some potentially helpful videos on Youtube (e.g. macaco).  Just be careful that you don’t try something dangerous that you or even the video might be unsure about!  And just in case you need the reminder: videos and DVDs are never a substitute for the real thing.


Exhibit D: Another Academy

Motive: You get a class, you get a teacher, you get the atmosphere.  The only problem?  It’s not yours. 

“Oh, but Mr. Malone, I couldn’t!”
“You may not have a choice, madame.”
I knew it; it was a can of worms just waiting to pop wide open.  Still, what could I tell her?  A lead was a lead.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply if your academy has just closed temporarily (e.g. for holidays), or if you’re injured, or anything like that.  Personal judgement rules here, of course, as well as school philosophy, relationships with and between grupos/teachers, degree of desperation, accessibility (or lack of) to your own academy, etc.  I’m not recommending going either way as a general rule; there are too many variable factors subject to each individual’s case, and it’s just one option to be aware of!


Exhibit E: Other Capoeiristas

Motive: If you’re stuck without capoeira classes, chances are there are others in your exact position.  If your academy is closed, gather with friends or other capoeiristas from your school for impromptu rodas or informal training sessions.  If you’re stranded in a foreign city and groupless, you could make like the wandering nomads of old and form a group (the general noun, not in the sense of a capoeira grupo, although the first may lead to the second!) with other stranded, groupless capoeiristas, so that you can all help each other keep your skills up, whether through rodas or meeting regularly to train together.  (This actually worked out very well for a friend of mine.)



Well, I’d done my best–left no clue unturned, no print undusted, no suspect unshadowed.  My thinking cap was running on its very last legs, and the coffee at the bottom of the pot was harder than an anvil on a duck.  I wished the pretty lady luck, and she left with a small, optimistic smile on her Chanel No. 7 reddened lips.  All in all, I hadn’t done a bad day’s work.  Case closed.

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