Essential Capoeira: New Capoeira Book Comes Out

8 01 2008

From Blue Snake Books:

Essential Capoeira, by Mestre Ponchianinho(Essential Capoeira: The Guide to Mastering the Art; Available January 29, 2008)  Fun, different, and above all effective, capoeira is a unique dance-fight-fitness program enhancing strength, stamina, and flexibility training for the entire body. … In clear, accessible language, author Mestre Ponchianinho explains the aims and benefits of the discipline, along with its history, origins, and philosophy. He continues by introducing the two main styles along with the techniques of the most famous mestres. Easy-to-follow warm-ups, basic moves, defense and escape moves, kicks, training combinations, strengthening exercises, ground movements; and more advanced acrobatic movements are all described and illustrated in step-by-step photographs. […]

Ponciano Almeida began studying capoeira in Brazil at the age of four and was teaching with the Cordao de Ouro school by the age of fifteen. An instructor and performer who appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he lives in London.  [Editor’s note: Most likely no relation to Mestre Acordeon, aka Bira Almeida, or it would almost certainly have been mentioned here.]

What do you guys think?  I’ve never actually read a “technical” capoeira book before.  One reason is that I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be worth it for me to get one, because I would either have learned the same things in class; not be able to use what I learned from the book if it didn’t fit with my group’s style; or just not have time to train according to the book on top of the time I was already using to train in class.  On the other hand, I’m sure they could be very useful in terms of clarifying technique and details of how you do the moves you do know and can make use of, and it’s always a good idea to expose yourself to how others do things.  The mandatory history/philosophy/cultural analysis section that seems to accompany most things written on capoeira might provide interesting, additional insight as well. 

That first line worries me a little though—“dance-fight-fitness program”?!   Not that Nestor Capoeira is in one (knock on wood), but if there were a grave, he would probably be rolling in it right about now… Still, I’m definitely not one to judge a book by its cover, especially before it has even come out!  Plus, the author was in the fourth Harry Potter movie, which, you know, is just cool. 😛

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9 responses

8 01 2008
xixarro

I don’t get it, what exactly is wrong with ‘dance-fight-fitness program’?
Capoeira is a good body workout indeed, so adding fitness to the description doesn’t wrong capoeira imho.

8 01 2008
Joaninha

It’s just because for me at least, I’m used to the idea that capoeira shouldn’t be used purely as a “fitness program”, because there are all these other elements to it and a lot of times when you see the results of combining “capoeira” and “fitness program”, they’re not good. And so “dance-fight-fitness program” for me invoked the term “dance-fight-game”, implying that capoeira was as inherently a “fitness program” as much as it is dance and fight (leaving out “game”), which it isn’t, really, not in the sense of a typical fitness program you’d sign up for at the gym or buy on a video. Saying it helps with your fitness is fine, but that phrase (to me) seemed almost like how a “capoeirobics” or “cardio capoeira” class would market itself, which is why it put me off. That’s all!

8 01 2008
xixarro

Oh that way. I just red it as a cheap commercial line, didn’t think much of it.

9 01 2008
Pirulito (D-cal)

Well, Nestor Capoeira has given guides in his books in relation to his own teaching method..

I doubt Mestre Poncianinho was the one who wrote the “blurb”. I guess the publishing company was just trying to attract readers. Like you said, not great to judge without actually seeing the book.

Personally, I’ve never really been attracted to the step by step books on how to do any martial art moreover Capoeira. I usually brushed through that part when reading Nestor Capoeira’s books, browsing through briefly just to see the similarities and differences his style had with my school’s.

And, the whole master-apprentice thing seems like something very important in learning Capoeira.

9 01 2008
Sangue Bom

I wish they stopped writing books like that. Essential, step-by-step, how-to, all-you-need-to-know-of-kind of books.
Nestor hasn’t stayed too far off it himself. They are/have done releasing a dvd with his teaching methods and other propaganda.

With too much technical and historical information to absorb from the myriad of books, I’d like they just told true or madeout stories of the lives of a capoeirista.

9 01 2008
Joaninha

Yeah I agree Pirulito, and did the same thing while reading. Not even the master-apprentice thing alone, but just having to experience it live, and whole and in action.

Sangue Bom–that’s kind of what I think too, that instructional things tend to have a “Read/watch this and master capoeira!” feel to them.

Now that would be interesting…a collection of biographical stories about famous and/or amazing capoeiristas. Maybe I’ll get started on that after I graduate. 😛

25 01 2008
Shayna

Sangue Bom – Mestre Bola Sete wrote a great book of true, exaggerated, and yes, perhaps a few made-up stories from the lives of capoeiristas – called “Historias e Estorias de Capoeiragem” (Histories and Stories of Capoeira)

I’m hesitant to translate the whole thing because of copyrights/permissions issues, but here are a couple stories:

The Mysterious Woman:
http://www.capoeira-connection.com/main/content/view/113/86/

Festival of Bonfim:
http://www.capoeira-connection.com/main/content/view/116/87/

I love stuff like this. Just sitting at the foot of a mestre while he tells parables 😉

Mestre Decanio, in “The Heritage of Mestre Bimba”, has a great section called “Parables of the Mestre” where he takes situations from Mestre Bimba’s life and draws lessons out of them.
http://www.capoeira-connection.com/main/downloads/Heritage_Bimba.pdf

25 01 2008
Shayna

Regarding the original topic:

I think that instructional books/videos can be helpful as supplements, but are NO substitute for real instruction.

I also take issue with the subtitle “The Guide to Mastering the Art” because we all know that following an illustrated book does not a mestre make, but I’d put money on it that it was some marketing agent who came up with the subtitle and not Mestre Poncianinho.

26 01 2008
Joaninha

I remember reading The Mysterious Woman on Bahia-Capoeira Blog 🙂 And I agree with your thoughts on the original topic; seems like nothing stands up to the marketing machine sometimes!

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