Challenge: In Six Words or Fewer, What Does Capoeira Mean to You?

30 03 2008

What does capoeira, at its very stripped down essence, mean to you?

I don’t know about you, but whenever someone asks me to tell them about capoeira or why I like it, I always feel like apologizing for hijacking the next 10-15 minutes of the conversation.  We all know how easy it is to gush and elaborate and describe and go on till the end of the world about how much capoeira means to you, and what capoeira means to you.  It’s not so easy to distill all of those thoughts and sentiments and assertions down to their very essence, the very core of what capoeira means to you.

So, continuing in the vein of letting great literary masters meddle in the capoeira world, I give you: Hemingway.

He was the guy who wrote a story in six words, and called it his best work:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Similarly, Mestres Bimba and Pastinha were quite concise in describing what capoeira meant to each of them:

“Capoeira is treachery.” (-Mestre Bimba)

“Capoeira is whatever the mouth eats.” (-Mestre Pastinha)

So now, it’s your turn!  I am very curious to see what kind of stuff you guys will come up with.  Will you be the next Hemingway of capoeira?

Answer in the Comments below (I will post mine down there as soon as I finish it!):
In six words or fewer, what does capoeira mean to you?

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Capoeira Song Lyrics List (Songs about Women)

28 03 2008

If you’re looking for a “pro-women” capoeira song to sing in the roda (like maybe when the mestra and contra-mestra of your capoeira group are playing each other 🙂 ), or want to know about more “women-unfriendly” capoeira songs, then you’re in the right place!  Below are two lists of both “pro” and “anti” women capoeira songs, with links to full lyrics and their translations.  I’m not naive (or arrogant?) enough to label the “anti” list “Capoeira Songs You Shouldn’t Sing” or something like that, but they are there purely for informational purposes and your own awareness.  Think of and bookmark this as a resource for the next time it’s your turn to lead the roda!

These lists will continually be updated as I discover more songs that fit under either heading.  Please contact me if you would like to add a song to either list, or believe you see a song on the wrong list!  Also, if I didn’t find a song already translated into English, then it was put at the mercy of Google Translation and my own non-Portuguese-speaking judgement, so feel free to suggest corrections there, as well. 🙂

To find out more about the representation of women in capoeira song lyrics, please read “Women in Capoeira Songs and the Roar on the Other Side of Silence“.

Update: You would be doing yourself a great disservice not to read Shayna’s suggestions and wisdom regarding singing capoeira songs in the roda (about women and in general)!  Check out her advice in the Comments thread, here and here.

Capoeira Songs about Women (positive)

Deixa Menina Jogar
Dona Maria do Camboatá
Dona Maria, Como Vai Você
Ginga Menina
Ingazeira o Ingá
Lagoa do Abaete
Sai, Sai Caterina
Santa Barbara de Relampué

Misogynistic Capoeira Song Lyrics

Retracted (4 September 2009)





Women in Capoeira Songs and the Roar on the Other Side of Silence

26 03 2008

When you clap and sing along in the roda, do you always know what you’re saying, what the words resounding in your ears really mean?  Are you unknowingly patronizing “women [as] the ones who clap their hands” (as opposed to “men are the ones who play pandeiro”), or accusing fellow (female) capoeiristas of being “like a snake / with venemous blood”?  Do you really believe that “woman killed man … / When she doesn’t kill him, she consumes him”?  Are you enthusiastically belting out, “Every jealous woman…I would kill them” and “When a woman is useless / Man sends her away”?

What happened to women in capoeira music?

It’s no secret that capoeira song lyrics contain some questionable and old-fashioned themes about women.  I’ve been thinking about the topic of women and capoeira songs / women in capoeira songs since I came across a thread on the capoeira.com forum, and fully realized that there are actually a lot of sexist, chauvinistic, and misogynistic lyrics in “traditional” capoeira songs.  However, I wasn’t sure exactly how a post on this would work, since such treatment or views of women seemed so prevalent in capoeira songs that either I’d have to make a 20-page study out of it, or simply reduce it all to one obvious sentence (like the first one of this paragraph).

Well, lo and behold, some diligent soul went the route of the 20-page study!  And thanks to the greater diligence of Shayna M., we now have an English translation of it, as well. 😀

Before you read it (link below), just a few comments.  I thought the author, Maria José Somerlate Barbosa, did a good job overall, and she definitely made clear the extent to which capoeira song lyrics degrade and denigrate women.  All of the themes she points out are the typical misogynistic narratives of weakness, deceit, castrating, etc.

However, I agree with Shayna’s note that the author could’ve picked a better choice for the example of a “pro-women” song.  Besides its obscurity, for me, I’m not too crazy about the fact that the song actually reinforces stereotypes of “the feminine”, even if it is to deem them positive instead of negative.  We’ve gone over this issue a couple times on this blog already, so if you would like some elaboration, please read my posts on “The Feminine in Capoeira” (Part 1: Malicia and Part 2: Context), or check out the discussion that developed in the Contra-mestra Cristina post’s comments thread.

Finally, I found it interesting that one of the capoeira songs Barbosa picked to criticize, I actually thought was okay at first.  The song goes:

In order to be beautiful
A woman doesn’t have to wear make-up
Make-up is of the Devil
It is God who gives beauty

Like I said, at first I didn’t see much wrong with that.  In fact, I thought it was a good thing, seeing it as something that spoke out against today’s consumerism and fashion industry, which eats both women and little girls alive.  As you will see though, Barbosa goes on to explain how this song both plays on misogynist themes and demonstrates how men try to control women’s actions.

The fact that I didn’t see this before brought up another important issue for me, something that goes back to that first-year post-modern, feminist, overkill-agenda-pushing English professor I mentioned in my very first post.  The problem my friends and I had with her was that she would bring her feminism into everything, even if the novel we were studying or discussion we were having hardly seemed to have anything to do with gender issues at all.  Eventually, it got to the point where we realized that by continually bringing them up, our professor was doing more to ingrain such narratives into our heads rather than encouraging us to fight them.  That is, by continuing to push how women were seen or portrayed as “lesser”, for example, my friends and I just learned to automatically associate “women” with “lesser”.  See how that works?

So in the case with this capoeira song, is it a good or a bad thing that Barbosa changed my view 180° on it?  This also relates to the larger issue of speaking out against misogyny/sexism in the first place.  As some people think, do feminists “just look for stuff to get mad about”?  And won’t continually pointing out this stuff have the same effect as my first-year English prof on my friends and I, only reinforcing the stereotypes in people’s heads rather than breaking them down?

First, I’ll answer the latter question, quoting the answer I gave to someone in my facebook group.  Their question was, “Why do you think it’s necessary to point out women in capoeira if by doing so, you make a border between men and women?”

I kind of looked at it almost as the lesser of two evils. It’s true that if I do talk about it, it makes people more aware of the “divide”. On the other hand, some divide is there whether I talk about it or not, and if people aren’t aware of it, it will just stay that way. So I guess I’m trying to point it out in order to make people more aware of it so they don’t go along with it unthinkingly, and might even maybe start actively trying to break it down.

So perhaps that was what our English professor was trying to do, as well: make us aware of it so we didn’t unthinkingly go along with everything we read.  However, I still think a lot of what she tried to inject into our curriculum was unecessary, so I’ll just say for my part, as I also told the guy in my facebook group, that I think I do a fair job here on Mandingueira of only touching on feminist issues when they come up naturally, without trying to force the issue in every post.

As for the other question (“Do feminists just look for stuff to get mad about?”), a blog formerly known by the brilliant title of “Shakespeare’s Sister” deals with that issue exactly.  Among her well-written, well-reasoned points, this paragraph touched me especially:

The truth is, if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of misogyny around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman. Not bitchy or grumpy or short-tempered, but paralyzingly depressed. Women have to train themselves to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of misogynistic detritus permeating the culture through which we all move, lest they go quite insane. I write about the things I can’t not write about. If I wrote about all the examples of sexism I see every day, I’d never sleep.

This is true, and it resonated especially well with me because it echoes a novel I studied last year, George Eliot’s Middlemarch (which is really good, and which you should all read):

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.

The point in both passages is that for the most part, we humans have desensitized ourselves to others’ suffering, and to a certain extent, this is actually necessary because if we were to or were able to be truly aware of all the pain and injustices and suffering in the world, every instant of hurt and every moment of wrongness, we wouldn’t be able to handle it; we would break down, go insane, and simply implode from the roar which lies on the other side of silence.

And I feel it, sometimes; all the blogs I read are categorized into folders, and sometimes I skip the one labelled “Feminism” altogether just because I don’t feel like reading yet another post or article about how women make 67 cents to every man’s dollar, or how another university paper wrote a “joke” article on rape, or how another film or TV show portrays a world with powerful women as a miserable world for men, or how women’s equality is the cause of everything from depression to the bad economy, or how another objectifying, degrading, insulting ad has been printed/broadcast, or how another sexist zinger has been used to bring down Hillary Clinton (and I’ve pretty much decided I want Obama to win) or in fact any powerful or political woman.

Because honestly, it is depressing.  It would be as if you went online everyday and read a series of blog posts or articles about how capoeiristas are universally belittled and undermined, how capoeira isn’t considered a “real” sport just because it’s done by capoeiristas, how you have to do ten public street rodas for every one soccer game to be taken seriously, how over half of assaulted capoeiristas were victims at the hands of their partners or mestres, how the rise of capoeira is the reason for all of society’s problems, how an ad sexualized violating a capoeirista to sell some product, how whenever you tried to do anything big or great with your life people argued you moved too fluidly or sang funny-sounding songs as reasons to take you down, how your school paper wrote a fun article about raping capoeiristas just for kicks, how another “study” has shown that capoeiristas are inherently dumber than other martial artists, how every day capoeiristas are brutally assaulted or killed, and just because you’re a capoeirista.  And yes, I realize some of those actually did happen in Brazil during capoeira’s early days, but now imagine it happens today, happens in every country on Earth, and that you didn’t just pick up capoeira somewhere along the way but were born with it in your blood.

So, having said that, please click here and read why feminists don’t “look for stuff to get mad about”.

And once you’ve finished that, here’s the study I promised you!

Representation of Women in Capoeira Songs [pdf]

Picture source:
http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en-commons/thumb/5/57/300px-Capoeira-three-berimbau-one-pandeiro.jpg





Videos: Forró Music and Dance

25 03 2008

Following up yesterday’s post, here are a few forró dance and music videos to go along with it!


This is a fun/offbeat music video of “Asa Branca”, Luiz Gonzaga’s most famous and successful hit.  It’s a rendition by Forró in the Dark featuring David Byrne, and is sung in English but keeps the original, familiar music and melody!




Another fun video showing a couple really dancing it up.  I’m not sure exactly what style of forró this falls under, but it’s fast and energetic.  It also very clearly blurs the line between sensual and sexual (note the non-existent skirt, innuendo, and gyrating), but you can’t say they don’t have skill. XD




Finally, a slightly more formal/”professional”/technical sample, demonstrating the baião style of forró:




Click here to see other posts in Capoeira é Dança





Capoeira é Dança, Part 3: Forró

24 03 2008

Forró dancers and musicians having a good time!“It Came from the North!”

In the harsh, blistering backlands of northeast Brazil, a future musical sandstorm found its roots in the rural music and dance of sundried Brazilian desert dwellers. Known as the sertão region, these notorious 1.5 million square kilometres are parched to begin with, and undergo seasonal droughts every year. When the rains would finally apparate, they summoned celebration in the form of song and dance—what would become the earthy, magnetic forró.

Forró conquered all of northeastern Brazil to the point of becoming a regional icon, but the dance and music suffered disdain from those in the south. Coming from the rural backlands, it was deemed an unsophisticated past-time for country bumpkins by those who were used to waltzing across urban dance floors between mazurkas, foxtrots, and tangos.

However, the old-fashioned, good-times rhythm and dance eventually won southeastern hearts and ears thanks to the efforts of Luiz Gonzaga (1912-1989), forró’s undisputed hero. He “modernized” the original forró rhythm, known as baião, and introduced it to southeastern Brazil in the 1940s, starting in Rio de Janiero. His song “Asa Branca” became an international hit, and soon following that, the whole genre of forró along with it!

Since then it has surfed waves and troughs of popularity, falling into the shadow of dances like samba and bossa nova in the 60s, and is now at the height of comeback from a revival in the 90s. Forró is featured annually in Brazil’s Festa Junina (June Festival), and according to one source is now celebrated on Luiz Gonzaga’s birthday, December 13th, as “National Forró Day” in Brazil.  One of the most popular modernized forró bands today is New York City’s Forro in the Dark.

Dancing with Words

The word “forró” refers to the musical genre as well as all the dance styles it encompasses, or is used even as a general term for all northeastern Brazilian music and dance. There are two main possibilities for how this genre got its name. The first is that “forró” came from the word “forrobodo”, which means “great party” or “commotion”. Ironically, “forrobodo” itself came from “forbodó”, which was Portuguese for a dull party!

The other version evokes colonialism and society balls, when either British landowners or engineers working on the Great Western Railroad would throw extravagant parties that were advertised as “for all”, including railroad and other workers. “Forró” (“foh-ho”) was the Brazilian form of pronouncing and spelling the phrase.

Partially modernized forró music band

Sing Like No One Is Listening

A lone sertanejo farmer plods towards the southern cities, leaving his beloved sertão of the north behind. He sings simple melodies of his hard life in the dry, dry desert, of thankless migration, going from favela to favela looking for work. All he wants is for the drought at home to pass, for the rains to return, so he can return as well; this longing, nostalgia, homesickness—saudade—is added to his song. Eventually, he weaves in other themes as well: love won and lost, passion and jealousy, romance and former lovers. It all ends up in lyric and melody, along with his simple love for the relief of dance, in word and body.

Traditionally, forró music consists of three instruments: the accordion, the triangle, and the zabumba, which is a Brazilian, hand-held bass drum. Modernization of the genre has also added keyboards, electric guitars, and/or drums to the music, but always ultimately retaining forró’s original rustic, folksy sound beneath. Modern day lyrics have also sometimes departed from the themes described above to include more innuendo or humour.

Party Mix

Forró is used to mean forró music as well as forró dance, and there are several variations of both, depending on time period, region, influence, and setting:

Forró pé-de-serra (forró at the “foot of the mountain”) is considered the original forró dance, and uses nothing more than the familiar accordion/triangle/zabumba instrumental trio.

Baião is a quick, 2/4 syncopated rhythm that was originally used for forró. It was this rhythm that Luiz Gonzaga “modernized” and took to the world in the mass popularizing of forró.  Baião music was connected with Afro-Brazilian drumming and linked to African circle dances (“African circle dances”? hmmm…) and performed during desafios, or “poetic duels”.

Xote was the main forró dance and rhythm variation that helped increase forró’s popularity throughout Brazil. It has a slower beat, incorporated pop-rock music, and is popular among young southeastern, southern, and centre-western Brazilians.

Arrasta-pé is the final “traditional” rhythm used in forró music, characterized by being faster than the other two main rhythms, baião and xote.

Forró universitário (or college forró) flourished in the early 1990s, named for the majority of southeast Brazilian, middle-class “students, intellectuals, and urban culture brokers” who hit the dance floors to smoothened forró harmonies infused with salsa, samba-rock, and African-derived blues, but still played on traditional instruments. While the music of forró universitário does not sound very different from that of forró pé-de-serra, their respective dance styles are distinctly varied, as are the forró dance styles between northeast and southeast Brazil.

Forró estilizado is considered tacky and uncultural by forró traditionalists, stylized and electronically rendered as it is, moreover with the role of the accordion downplayed.

Other forró variations or related dances include xaxado, coco, and galope.

Forró dancers adding twist to their style

So You Think You Can Dance?

Forró has been described as “a mixture of ska with polka in overdrive”. Although there are numerous variants of this dance, the basic steps involve a couple dancing very close together. The man’s left hand holds the woman’s right hand as in a waltz (assuming the case of a straight couple), with the man’s right arm around the woman’s back and her left arm around his neck. At the same time, each dancer’s right leg stays in between their partner’s two legs, resulting in the African tradition of dancing with close pelvises. Forró is generally considered a sensual as well as upbeat dance.

Beyond these fundamentals, movements such as spins, fancy heel flourishes, and lifting a woman to sit on her partner’s knee entered through the influence of salsa and other Caribbean dances. Still other styles may have partners, called forrozeiro/as, slightly or much farther away from each other while dancing. Luiz Gonzaga reportedly invented a new style of forró dance to go with each release of a new hit song!

Forró and Brazilian Identity in a Transnational Setting

Every region of Brazil has its own distinct style of forró, some with different names, as well. Megwen Loveless, a PhD candidate at Harvard, describes perfectly how Brazilians’ regional identities are pronounced in the very choreography and idiosyncrasies of each forró dancer’s movements:

[W]hile forró music symbolizes the nation as a whole, Brazilians from various regions dance to it differently. Thus, forró dance styles allow Brazilians to feel a sense of national pride and belonging while simultaneously expressing regionalism and differentiating their provincial identities. Regional distinctiveness can be read through bodily expression on the dance floor, creating a lexicon through which Brazilians position themselves—and their local identities—in a transnational setting.

Couples dancing forró generally followed the style of the male lead. Pernambuco: tight, tight dancing, with thighs intertwined and nothing to embellish the grinding. São Paulo: almost sporty, with casual turns and sexy pauses and clearly demarcated shoulder space. Rio: pretty twirls that remind me of latticework on a balcony in Lapa.

Forró is a dance in which a national rhythm can find its voice in a variety of bodies. It is a performance in which regional accents play off one another. Ultimately, it is a genre in which diverse styles speak the same language, albeit with lilting cadences of difference. I’ve found that while forró music and lyrics can tell me about Brazilian national identity, forró dance elucidates Brazil’s distinctive regional identities. Taken together, forró performance can shed light on both the unity and diversity of Brazilian identity.

Click here to see other posts in Capoeira é Dança 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forr%C3%B3
http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/travel/07culture.html
http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/worldmusic/view/page.basic/genre/content.genre/forro_720
http://www.basicalingua.com/culture.htm
http://www.drclas.harvard.edu/revista/articles/view/990
http://www.ballet-dance.com/200609/articles/Abreu20060715.html
http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/9585/41/
http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_39/forrotakesmanhattan.html 

Picture sources:
http://www.joaowerner.com.br/images/urbanos/forro.JPG
http://www.brasilafro.net/SPIP/IMG/jpg/forro.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Show_de_forr%C3%B3.jpg/800px-Show_de_forr%C3%B3.jpg





Mandinga and Mandingueira: What’s in a Name?

21 03 2008

mandingueira (noun, feminine): capoeira player who is skilled, experienced, intelligent, powerful, dangerous, and not to be underestimated

Malicia and Mandinga” formed the fourth FICA Women’s Conference discussion topic, and since I’ve talked a bit about malicia already on this blog, this time I’ll focus on mandinga.

What is mandinga in capoeira?

What is it? According to the conference discussion group,

mandinga relate[s] to something more abstract [than malicia], an energy transmitted, something magical, spiritual, and related to an individual’s personality.

That sounds about right; and since mandinga is so abstract and versatile, and pervasive in one who’s learned it, it makes sense that how it’s expressed would depend on the individual capoeirista who has or uses it.

There’s also an article about mandinga on Capoeira Connection, in which Mestre Curió says:

There’s the mandinga of black magic and there’s the mandinga of the capoeirista’s cleverness, when he reaches the point where he can really be called a capoeirista. And especially when he’s an angoleiro. It’s not that there don’t exist elements of mandinga in Regional. But there are people who enter the roda, exchange beatings, and claim that they’re good. But they’re not good. That’s what mandinga is: It’s wisdom, it’s being able to hit your adversary but not doing so; you show that you didn’t hit him because you didn’t want to.

I like this one, too. It puts emphasis on the subtlety and “underlying-ness” of mandinga; it’s not brute force, but the threat or potential of force; not overt fighting, but mental manipulation (in all senses of the word) and psychological prowess.

Next, I think the explanation on—appropriately enough—Grupo Mandinga‘s website does a really good job describing just what this mysterious, floating spectre is. You should definitely check out the whole thing, but in a nutshell:

Mandinga in the capoeira environment means, amongst many things, the hidden power that one has to disguise their real intention and to trick the opponent. It is a way to invoke some forces to blur the opponent’s vision of reality almost like hypnotizing him/her into a trance-like state so that they can’t see what is coming. It can also be magic like a trick that confuses and distracts the opponent. However, it is much more than any of the above meanings.

This angle hits on one of the most common notions of mandinga, as a spell one capoeirista puts over the other while playing inside the roda. And of course, it makes the point that ultimately, something like mandinga is beyond description or definition.

Finally, we return to the FICA conference, where Mestre Paulinha split mandinga into four main elements:

  • attitude
  • improvisation
  • deception
  • interruption

If someone who was at the conference could elaborate on her ideas regarding these, that would be awesome! For myself, I could see attitude being the comportment of a capoeirista as they play, their relaxed yet hyper-alert mental state and ability to take the jogo as it comes, turning anything that happens to their own advantage. That covers improvisation as well, and deception would be the capoeirista’s powers of concealment, hiding their every intention and movement until the very last nanosecond, toying with their opponent in the form of dangled feints and barely-there (until you fall into one!) traps.

Lastly, interruption is an interesting one, and I’d interpret that to mean how you interrupt the other player’s game, countering their attacks and moving too quickly for them to even be able to complete a single movement. It could also mean interrupting your own game and mindset, if the situation in the roda suddenly shifts or changes on you.

Now, what does all this have to do with Mandingueira? I thought since we’re already on the topic, I’d take the opportunity to explain the thinking behind this blog’s name. Again from Grupo Mandinga:

When a capoeirista is referred to as being a “mandingueira” it can be considered as one of the highest compliments that could be given. It implies that one is experienced and mature with a good sense of humor and yet dangerous and not to be fooled by the appearances. Sometimes the word mandinga is also used to imply that someone put a spell on a player and for that he/she can’t play well or is not doing well in some senses.

Basically, what better way for a blog to advocate for women in capoeira than to name it after the ultimate capoeirista? Not the “ultimate female capoeirista”, but the ultimate capoeirista, who—guess what?—is female! As for the rest, you could maybe call it wishful thinking or dire optimism, but I’d hope that in the long run, Mandingueira will affect and change society (or at least the capoeira world) the same way a mandingueira or mandingueiro would affect and change another capoeirista in the roda; not exactly by tricking them in my case, but through their interaction making the other aware of their own faults and mistakes, and thus causing them to improve and change for the better…and moreover causing such a complete and amazing change that it’d be like a spell was cast over them (in this case, society—or the capoeira world).

Update: See Comments to download a 40-page research paper on malicía in capoeira angola and capoeira regional!

Picture source: http://web.monroecc.edu/manila/webfiles/capoeira/capologo1.gif





Drama and Babysitting and Pacifiers, Oh My: Children and Relationships in Capoeira

19 03 2008

This topic, based on the “Maternity and Well-Being” discussion at the FICA Women’s Conference, has two main parts to it: women in capoeira having children, and relationships between capoeiristas in the same group.

Having been in neither situation…I don’t know how much I can really say about this.  Consider that a disclaimer!

AwwwwwwFrom my own observations, all of the capoeiristas with families that I’ve seen have been pretty good at sharing childcare time (taking turns training, going to different classes, etc.), and the rest of the group usually seems more than happy to help out.  Actually, something I’ve noticed everywhere is that it seems like all capoeiristas are really good with children!!  As someone who dreads playing/working with children even more than partner work (it would be so like me to faire une bêtise and hurt them by accident; and there is nothing more scathing than a scornful young person; and how does one relate to a 6/12/15-year old??), I’ve always wondered why/how this is?

I will say, also, that I have yet to see a capoeirista who has had a baby look like she was ever pregnant in her life!  So I definitely agree with the discussion group people who said the best way for a capoeirista to get back in the game is to just keep training—if they ever stopped in the first place.  I’ve seen women playing and training while at least a few or more months pregnant, so I imagine they must have gotten back into things pretty quickly after giving birth.

If a woman has a baby and her partner doesn’t do capoeira, then I think that capoeira counts as a major enough part of a capoeirista’s life that her partner should care and be considerate enough to take that into account when splitting childcare duties, at least to a certain extent and provided that the partner doesn’t have something the equivalent of capoeira in their own life.  (If that’s the case, then both should compromise to give up equal times of their activity and take care of the child equally.)

And while I agree with the idea that new parents can stay involved with the academy by doing admin work, helping with events, and playing music, I think it’s also important to recognize that this in no way is a fair substitute for actual training!  So while it’s a good way for the parent(s) to stay connected to the academy while they’re physically or otherwise incapable of training, people (namely partners, and friends and capoeira colleagues to a lesser extent) should help out to try and make sure they can get back to normal training as soon/much as possible.

As for relationships between capoeiristas…well, I can see several pros and cons to this.

Pros:

  • You majorly have something in common.
  • You get to see them more often, and will understand each other’s crazy committment to that Brazilian martial art form nobody can even pronounce properly.
  • Training/playing in the roda might be more fun/interesting.

Cons:

  • You might see them too much and have space issues.
  • It might be hard separating the relationship from capoeira life, kind of like people in office relationships have trouble keeping them separated from work life.
  • If it goes bad, capoeira or training might become a source of stress for you, and you’ll no longer be able to count on it as your standard all-purpose stress-reliever.

On the other hand, this reminds me of two things I’ve been told in capoeira.  The first is that when you’re in capoeira, when you’re training or in the roda, everyone else is just another capoeirista.  In the roda, the other person isn’t your mother, your friend, or your significant other; they’re a capoeirista, and moreover a capoeirista you’re currently playing inside the capoeira roda.

The second?  In the all-too-immortal words of one of my capoeira teachers:

“Training solves everything!  If you’re sad, you train!  If you’re happy, you train!  If you’re angry, you train!  Love, anger, sadness, depression…training solves EEEVVVERRRYYTHING!”

Picture source: http://www.capoeirasantabarbara.com/images/cd2-kids2.jpg