Do you remember the first time you read something substantial about capoeira? What about the first time you went all out talking shop with a fellow capoeirista, or your first in-depth capoeira discussion?
The first capoeira book I read was Nestor Capoeira’s Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game. It was the first time I’d read anything substantial written about capoeira, and it was revelational. Imagine a girl, curled up on a chair at the kitchen table, completely still except for the spellbound page-turning of Chapter 1, eyes word by word razing lines to the ground, thinking: “Nestor Capoeira can read my mind.”
Fast-forward six months or a year or so. By now, I’m more or less constantly talking with my capoeira friends outside of class. Of course, what else do we talk about but capoeira? We talk about everything, from technique, to music, to trends, to dynamics, to politics, to changes, to likes and dislikes, to hearsay, to problems, to advice, to complaints, to aspirations, to the past, present, and future. (Whoa. And not just about capoeira anymore. Honestly, what would I do without these guys?)
The thing was, especially and mostly at the beginning, I found that while sharing all the thoughts and ideas I’d accumulated about capoeira and class and related matters since having started was fun and gratifying—moreover to people who related!—it also somehow felt a bit…hollow. Like nothing quite came out the way I wanted it to, no matter how many times I reworded or amended my comments. Like I knew exactly what I was talking about before saying it, and after it came out, sounded nothing like I’d thought it would. Like while everything remained percolating in my mind, it was clear, and pure, and…well, for lack of a better word, sacred; and after I articulated my thoughts, or tried to, it lost all of that. It became cheapened, and trite, merely strings of words thrown to the wind, mental glass structures processed into verbal sand.
To put it simply, talking so earnestly about capoeira, at times, seemed to take away the magic from just doing and thinking about capoeira. It was the reverse of reading Nestor Capoeira’s book for the first time.
I believed the same would apply to writing about capoeira, as well. Before the idea for Mandingueira came up, I never for one second considered writing a blog about capoeira. It would be too much, I thought, too much writing, and talking, and spelling out, and deconstruction and breaking down of something I felt was best experienced holistically. Wanting to describe or discuss any part of capoeira, whether in speech or in writing, is like wanting to paint a stunning, breathtaking, fiery sunset. The subject is so beautiful and awe-inspiring that you feel compelled to capture it, to retain its essence, yet you know you never can, and thus don’t want to because even your best efforts will not do it justice—but still want to.
So despite the challenge, many people continue to pick up a paintbrush, ready to capture the sun. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about it is that no matter how many people try, fail, or succeed, it remains ever burning just as bright, an irrisitible source of inspiration for all those who stop and gaze.
Picture source: http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/ruuhonen/capoeira.jpg