Perspective in Capoeira: Falling Behind on the Journey

16 04 2008

How much does it matter? Does it matter? Why?

Normally, people love what they are good at; conversely, you are usually good at what you love. Writers write, actors act, graphic designers design graphics, and soccer players play soccer. Academics excel in academics, and mechanics know their mechanisms. Passion and motivation are all you need to carry yourself to great heights in what you love, at least according to Chicken Soup for the Soul, et al.

What perspective do you take on capoeira?Of course, capoeira, being the malicious trickster it is, doesn’t care what Chicken Soup or the rules say. That’s one of the things that I always thought was awesome about capoeira; you didn’t necessarily have to be good at it to feel like you were getting somewhere, and anyone could fall victim to “capoeira fever” (to quote a friend), whether they were a beginner or athletic or not.

But after a certain point, sucking at something you love kind of…well…sucks. This is what’s been bothering me lately, and where perspective comes in, but first, some background: My friends and I have been training at different places for the past eight months due to geography, and seeing one of them this past weekend made it very, very obvious that we’ve been progressing at devastatingly different rates. I can’t do half—no, make that any of—the things they do, and I started a year before. I blame (rightly or not) where I’ve been training for not being hardcore enough in comparison to my old place, not intense enough, not pushing their students enough, but am blasting myself for the same things. It’s not like I haven’t been training (on the contrary, although I may as well not have been), but what if I’d pushed myself just that much harder each class, that much further, not let myself become that much more complacent?

And though I’m still upset, after talking to a non-capoeira friend about it, I also have to ask…why? Why do we get upset about capoeira if we still enjoy it while we’re doing it? Is there a point to it? Does it make our lives better?

On the one hand, this kind of dissatisfaction is good in the way that it can motivate you to really train harder and be determined to rev it up. (Although if you’re me, that in turn only leads to a sprained toe. Ah, irony, my dear old friend.) But if you put it into the context of your life overall…is there a point? If you enjoy capoeira and you enjoy going to class and training and playing in the roda, then can’t you just enjoy what you are doing, instead of getting upset about what you could be doing? That’s how I used to view capoeira. That is, I knew before I started that I wasn’t athletic at all and didn’t have much hope of really getting good, so my overall outlook every class was basically to not expect anything, so everything I did do was a happy surprise.

This also reminds me of what Xixarro said after “The Battle Between Capoeira and Everything Else“, about just enjoying capoeira while you’re there and not worrying about what’s not there (like extra time to train, or I guess in this case, actual capoeira skills).

But isn’t a capoeirista who doesn’t esquiva fast enough, kick high enough, can’t jump, has too little balance, not enough malΓ­cia, needs more control, hopeless at floreios (even if they are auxiliary, but definitely expected in my group, and the bar for them just keeps getting higher)…just like a writer who lacks vocabulary, spells things wrong, forgets punctuation, can’t structure paragraphs, and doesn’t even have very much to write about?

But again: if you enjoy it anyway, and doing capoeira makes your life better nevertheless…then does it matter?

p.s. In no way do I actually think this does not matter; I hate that my progress is practically non-existent and that I can’t do anything, especially while everyone else I know is zooming by on rocket-powered cordas. This is another “thought experiment” and just to see what other people, i.e. you guys, think. Or maybe you can convince me that it really does not matter and I should lighten up/stop thinking too much/look on the bright side/don’t worry?

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30 responses

16 04 2008
cenoura

You could have reached in my head and pulled out this post-I have a friend who started a year later than me, and is now generally much better. While I don’t think that it doesn’t matter if you’re not progressing at all, I do think that everyone’s progress rate is different. I mean, can you do things that you couldn’t do x time ago? That’s still progress. And I don’t know if I think you can change your progress rate beyond practice-there are always going to be people who progress faster with the same amount(or even less) practice. But it sucks. or at least I think it does, not to be going as fast as someone you see regularly. I don’t know what to do about it-for a while, at least with this friend, I was training like he did-but I hit the point of diminishing returns so much faster-if I tried to do 10 queda de rin kickovers a night, for example, my arm would get tired enough by the 4 or so that by the end I was reinforcing bad habits.
I’ve never really believed that “just do what you love, it doesn’t matter if you’re bad at it”. It does, at least to me. Which is not to say that you have to be good at something from day 1, and shouldn’t ever do things that are difficult for you. But I’m like you-after a while, sucking at what you love just sucks. It erodes my love some.
So the simple answer is, I have much sympathy, and I think it does matter that you get better, at least to an extent, but that comparison to others is not always the way to see that you’re getting better.

16 04 2008
mree

The 2nd or 3rd open roda night I attended with my group, I saw a kid there who was lightning-quick, acrobatic, and just generally a walking bag of bad-ass muscle-y awesome. After the roda was over, we got into a small talk conversation, and I complimented his game, then explained I’d only been playing capoeira for about 3 months and looked forward to getting much better.

“3 months, ya? Me too!”

And I just wanted to sink through the floor.

I’m not COMPLETELY hopeless in the roda, but I’m not that good. I could try to lay blame/justify it with a million reasons (my age, my health challenges, my lack of time to train comparatively–marathon training is at the forefront right now, not the game!) but as you have noted, it still stinks. This post reassured me that I’m not alone in these feelings.

Not to be patronizing, but I bet you’re better than you think, even if your friend seems to be rocketing away from you. Like Cenoura, I try to keep it in perspective–no, I can’t do the aerial things, but I have gained strength and noticeable muscle in my legs and arms, I can hold a handstand without a support, my kicks are cleaner. We’re all getting better…just at different rates.

(Hell, you could be like one dude I knew, in a different field, group fitness. He had been to SIX weekend intensives to get certified to teach a class (usually it’s a one-time thing), and had failed every single time…and still kept coming back. O_o)

16 04 2008
Fada

you should keep in mind that you and your friends have been practicing in different groups for quite a long time. While they went on with training in their usual style, you may have been practicing different movements and building different muscles. It also takes some time to get used to new players and new rules in another group. At least these were my experiences, when I trained somewhere else for some month. I felt like being a total beginner in the new group, and when I came back to my old one the others had progressed a lot, compared to myself. But on the long term I found that I had learned many different things the others didnt know, and suddenly made a BIG step forward getting back to the usual training style.
So what I want to say is that in my opinion, your Capoeira is always best there (with that mestre) where you started to learn.

17 04 2008
Shayna

A couple thoughts…

1) Capoeira has no “goal” or “final destination” – you will never arrive at the point where you’re so good there’s nothing left to learn; therefore, it’s all about enjoying the journey. If you wait to enjoy capoeira until you’ve “arrived” at a certain point, you will NEVER be satisfied.

2) Stop comparing yourself to others – and that includes comparing yourself to where you think you “should be” by now. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and individual rates of progress. I think that defining standardized “levels” of accomplishment in capoeira is a load of merda. There is no really good way to compare people in capoeira. Maybe someone can do more floreios than you, but you have a better game. Maybe someone can play berimbau better than you, but you are a more skilled singer. Maybe someone can do more variations on the berimbau, but you get a better sound out of the instrument. Maybe someone has better takedowns than you, but you have a kick-ass, beautiful ginga. You get the idea.

3) Recognize that progress and plateaus come in phases. Sometimes you will be the one rocketing forward, other times you feel like you’re standing still… or even moving backwards. When that happens, focus on what you already can do well. Go back to the basics and do the simple movements as beautifully as you can. Not only will it boost your confidence, but it will also build your base so that when you do give that advanced movement/toque/song another try, you’ll have a stronger foundation and you may just get it.

4) Go back and read #1 again, since that is really the key point πŸ˜‰

Finally… careful with analogies. If you are a writer/builder/actor/soccer player/academic and you’re making your career in that area, you need to be “good” – or get good – because otherwise your bills won’t get paid.

But if you’re a capoeirista, which you are NOT doing to make a living, but just because you enjoy it – then focus on enjoying it, not on being better than someone else or achieving a certain level.

21 04 2008
Soneca

As much as I can agree with Shayna, and say that her commentary is true, I still relate A LOT w you guys (and at least I’m not the only one who feels this way). While acrobatic ability is heavily valued in my group- I can’t do half of the things that are expected- so I’ve begun training for those things, slowly and with patience, while strengthening the things I am good at. It will take a long time for me to do a mortal, I have to build up muscles in my legs to be able to jump higher… I know that I have to gain more flexibility in my back and in my waist for other things…. and what makes me feel better is comparing myself to myself. To picture how I was in the beginning and how I am now, it seems like a little tiny bit of progress (stretching one inch farther, for example), but in the context of time it is a huge deal (in my life). Maybe it’s a stupid way to cope, but the only way I’ve found myself from being discouraged by everyone else who seems to surpass me.

The people that I look up to, I have to always keep in mind, have been training for YEARS… some of them EVERY DAY for YEARS, and it took them a lot of work to get where they are. I know that some people are more athletic than others, I know that I learn differently and that my body adapts to movements differently, and even though I can’t believe the new girl in class tried an Au Dobrado and landed it first shot- and I’ve been kiling myself for months- I have to be patient with myself.

One of the best pieces of advice given to me after class once, was to be grateful for all the things I didn’t accomplish, I added.. to be grateful for the chance to try to accomplish them again. I give this to you Joaninha, as well as a long distance hug bc I know how you feel… girl, I KNOW. =)

21 04 2008
Gigante

Challenge, I think, is a lot more important than most people realize. I know any number of people who wish they had natural athletic ability, or learned to do a mortal the second time they tried it, or so on, with whatever difficult skill… but I look at the people who DO have this ability, do DID do a mariposa the first time they saw one, and I wonder how much they value what they can do. For me, personally, the struggle is a large part of what makes me want to do these things, the process of going from ‘not able’ to ‘able’. The harder something is, the more I want to be able to do it, the better the feeling when, months later, I can finally reliably do an au batido.

Ponder for a moment how boring life would be if you could, just by wanting, perform any feat you pleased. In days, there’d be no new challenges. What is life, when you have nothing left to learn?

I realize this may be somewhat off-topic, but I think it’s something good to think about when one gets discouraged at one’s rate of progress. Relish the struggle, the skill-building; it would be so much worse without it.

21 04 2008
Shayna

Gigante – great thoughts!

To Soneca and anyone else whose group places a heavy emphasis (whether stated or not) on floreios, I’m truly sorry. Work on them if you want to, but focus on developing a solid game… I guarantee you won’t regret it. I mean, who would you rather be: the capoeirista doing a triple-twisting backflip, or the capoeirista giving rasteira to the one who just landed a triple-twisting backflip? πŸ˜‰

I used to have a mortal. It was pretty sweet to be able to do it, but how many times did I use it in the roda? Zero. I don’t consider flipping in as an entrance to count as “using it in the roda” :p

23 04 2008
cenoura

Gigante, that is a good point. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

24 04 2008
mree

Yeah, I’ll third what they’re saying…I came back to read everyone else’s comments and I definitely empathize with the feelings. Sure, I stare with longing at the ease of which some of my fellow capoeiristas can pull off certain moves, but if I could just snap and do the same thing, it would be a hollow victory. I am really freaking proud of the fact that I don’t want to fall down and die of dizziness after doing multiple rounds of 2 meia lua de compassos in a row! Small victory…but competing with myself, even the small ones make me happy.

28 04 2008
chan

Hey mandingueira.
Great post. It really epitomizes most of the frustrations that many of my students get in one form or another at one stage or another.
For me, there is no answer that will completely satisfy this question. Some answers will help and some wont. I guess the real question is, what answer is going to help you…

Everyone begins their capoeira journey at different points on a mountain, but I believe that we are all trying to reach the same destination. We all take different paths but in the end it is always towards the same thing.

I believe capoeira is a life-long journey. So, in essence if it has taken me a year to get a single movement, it is like a blink of an eye in respect to my life-span. Think about setting yourself up for life, not just what you may or may not be able to pull off next week.

Another tool, although superficial in its essence, but practical in its application is to film yourself. Do it regularly. Because every year, even though you may not think you will have gotten better, it is hard evidence. It will not play games with you. You will see, for sure, that you have progressed.

Find what you really enjoy about capoeira, and keep trying it. If you really love something, or a certain aspect, movement, you will get it. If you really want something, the world will conspire to help you achieve it.

Hope your well. Its great that you get to train with so many different groups. Your lucky, you get to learn from many teachers and see capoeira with wider eyes than most. So you definately grow in some areas of capoeira more than others. Here where I live this is the only school in our city. The next capoeira schools are in different states.

Chan.

29 04 2008
Joaninha

Cenoura:

That’s really true what you said about progress, and that being able to do something now that I couldn’t do 8 months ago is still progress, even if that something isn’t much compared to others…and I guess that really is the crux of it all. I had an amazing English teacher in high school who drilled all these truisms into our head, and one of them was, “People will always be content as long as they have no basis of comparison.”! Because I actually was feeling pretty happy and content, until my friend and I started to train together!

I’m actually glad you brought up the point about diminishing returns and practicing bad habits; I haven’t ever realized that even happens! Darn, another thing I need to be careful about.

I don’t know if it erodes my love some, for capoeira in general, but sometimes it does inject a tinge of bitterness, into certain conversations or moments in class for example, which is sad because it doesn’t have to be there (in the sense that we don’t have to get so upset about this as well as in the sense that you could be lucky enough to be “good” and not have this problem in the first place).

As for doing what you love even if you suck at it, I think that’s actually alright in general, for people who like drawing occasionally in their spare time for example, since if they don’t mind that they suck and just enjoy the actual doing of the activity, then why not? I think for capoeira it’s slightly different though, because it takes so much from us and we give or give up so much to it, and put so much of our lives and ourselves into it, that merely liking the sport is not enough to go on.

29 04 2008
Joaninha

Mree:

Ouch. I’m sorry about that, and definitely sympathize!

I think I’m the same as you, actually…I wouldn’t say I’m hopeless either, but just not “good”. The strange thing is that at my new place I do feel more confident and seem more competent, even though it’s not like the capoeira is worse (in fact, though the training is less intense, the capoeira itself is amazing), whereas the moment I return to my old place, like I did for an event one weekend, the complete opposite happens, I feel and act like the worst and most beginner student in the room, and I can’t tell if it’s me or the ambiance or what.

Well, I almost wish I could lay blame actually, because that gives you an excuse, right? And as an aside, marathon training is a really admirable one! But when it’s all just you…well, then it’s just you.

Perspective is good…but comparisons are just so darn easy to make, they can come in at any time and slash it all up! Especially if, for example, your friends have also gained strength and muscle, can hold a handstand, kick cleanly—plus the aerials. It’s tough because perspective is kind of like telling yourself “you can’t have it all”, but then looking and seeing others who *do* seem to have it all.

But wow, hahaha, you definitely have an impressively persevering friend! We could all take a page from his notebook. πŸ˜›

29 04 2008
Joaninha

Fada:

Hi, I don’t think I’ve seen you on here before! Thank you for your thoughts, and I’m kind of hoping that what you described will happen to me too—that though it may seem like a drawback at first, in the long run it will actually have become a major advantage. Only time will tell!

29 04 2008
Joaninha

Shayna:

I thought you would have lots to say for this one, and you didn’t disappoint! Following your order…

1) That makes a lot of sense. Although I still enjoy doing capoeira while I’m doing it (these down moments seem to take place mostly in between classes), and I never viewed it as having a goal or final destination either, you made the point about enjoying the journey, and the fact that capoeira is an endless journey so there’s no rush to reach a destination, since the destination doesn’t exist, come through really well. Maybe I should just tell myself I’m taking the “scenic route.” πŸ˜‰

2) Making comparisons is definitely one of my biggest personal vices/weaknesses, and not just in capoeira (though of course, since capoeira is such a major part of my life, it gets more of or amplifies everything). I like the idea of also ditching a belief in “where you ‘should’ be”, though it’s difficult only because when everyone else is already there and you’re not, for me that always begs the question why. I think things would brighten up if I just learn to let go of comparisons. (Unfortunately, that’s a pretty big “if”.) For now though, I think it’s also really good what you said about there being no standardized levels, because there are so many different things to be good or bad at in capoeira.

3) I’ve heard about capoeira plateaus, but I honestly didn’t think mine was one…it didn’t feel so much that I’d hit a plateau but hit a part of the mountainside that I couldn’t climb . I’m still a beginner, I don’t think there will be any true plateaus in sight for a long while yet! Thank you for the suggestion about building your base though…and for the warning about moving backwards, as well (yikes!!).
4) Got it πŸ˜€

For the analogy though, I wasn’t thinking about them doing it for a living, but just in general…as in, can you call someone who writes badly a writer? I do get the point about just enjoying it though, since you’re (for the most part) doing it for enjoyment’s sake. (Scenic route, Joaninha, scenic route!)

29 04 2008
Shayna

Can you call someone who writes badly a writer?

One of my friends went to train in Brazil with a pretty famous mestre, and she didn’t have much time in the art yet. When she first met this mestre, he asked her, “Are you a capoeirista?”

She wasn’t sure how to answer – Do I claim to be a capoeirista even though I’m not “living” the art like he is? Do I just say I “train” capoeira? Is this even a trick question, or is he simply looking to see if I have any experience at all?

After a bumbling answer that sort of expressed all of the above, the mestre simply said: “You ARE a capoeirista, and you’re LEARNING. Now come train.”

29 04 2008
Joaninha

Soneca:

That’s really good that you know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can work on them steadily, even if slowly. I think that could be one thing holding me back, which you just reminded me of, is that whatever floreios I do work on are kind of chipped away at haphazardly, rather than focused on in a continuous stream of practice and concentration right up until I get them.

It’s interesting that you mentioned the concept of time in that context, because another friend I talked to about this actually said kind of the opposite. That is, he said that it might take me two years to get something, but in the context of the whole rest of my life that will actually seem like nothing.

Also, I don’t think that’s a stupid way to cope—coping at all, no matter how you do it, instead of letting it eat you up, is a good thing!
Patience IS a virtue, I guess I should remember that too. ^^”

Thanks for all that, Soneca. πŸ™‚ Only, could you elaborate a little more on what they meant by being grateful for the things you didn’t accomplish? Is it because that means you have more to learn and achieve, and grow into?

30 04 2008
Joaninha

Gigante:

Hey! You know what, I actually had almost the exact same conversation with my friend about what you said, only it was about foreign languages instead of capoeira. My friend and I were talking about how we both wished we’d been put in French Immersion when we were younger because then we’d both be fluent in French now, instead of struggling to learn it (struggling in the sense of going through the process, not as in we’re bad at French). But then my friend said practically identical to you what you said, about how now that she is going/has gone through the process, she really appreciates the fact she can speak/understand French, and she also wondered if those who were in French Immersion, or were raised with the language, appreciate their ability to speak it, or if they just take it completely for granted.
I have to admit though, that my response to her was…”…but if I’d been put into French Immersion, yes I wouldn’t have experienced ‘the challenge’, but I would be able to speak French.”

It’s slightly different for capoeira in terms of speaking French can help for job opportunities, etc., whereas capoeira is (for me anyway) basically more recreational than anything else, but even though I definitely see your point, the cynical part of me still wonders if this whole idea of “challenge” and “the struggle” is just some sort of idealism/ideology we use to make ourselves feel better?

Or do we think capoeiristas who are naturally good truly have a less rich capoeira experience? Since though natural talent may make things boring in life, it is capoeira after all, so no matter how good you are, there is always something further to reach for. So it’s not a “loss” if you start off at a higher bar, because in capoeira there are an endless number of bars, which means if you start off at a lower bar you just have less of a chance of reaching the really, really high bars.

Or do we think they really don’t appreciate/enjoy what they can do? Speaking for myself at any rate, I know what kind of things come easy for me (in general, not necessarily in capoeira), and I definitely appreciate them and realize it every time I use the skills I have. And for me personally…I guess I just see more value in, bottom line, actually being able to do something than in being able to say, “well, I can’t do it, but I’ll sure be glad when I can, if it ever happens.”

I hope I don’t sound too skeptical/cynical…maybe I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but at the same time I really am wondering. Also, I don’t think it’s off-topic at all, and actually really adds to this conversation, so thank you for that!

30 04 2008
Joaninha

Shayna:

So true…I’ve seen such beautiful and amazingly dialogue-intense capoeira games this year that now that I know what kind of joga it’s possible to have I’m even more motivated to develop my game and dialogue, and your advice only helps. πŸ™‚ But yes, I’ve definitely been “raised” to value floreios, so it would just be nice to rasteira that triple-twist backflip, then quickly top it off with something of my own while they’re still down. πŸ˜„

30 04 2008
Joaninha

Cenoura:

I understood what Gigante said intellectually, but I think what you said was exactly what made his meaning fully come through for me. I suppose it’s like that saying that goes, “Everything worth doing is hard.” But that still begs the question of how having a good game is worth less from one person because they had to work less to achieve it… :S

30 04 2008
Joaninha

Mree:

Sorry guys, I am actually starting to feel like the official group pessimist now, and I’m really hoping I don’t end up bringing anyone down, but I have to ask… Mree, when you first did an armada or quexada, those weren’t too difficult, right? But they weren’t hollow victories either, right? So I guess I feel like it’s also possible to get other movements or aspects of capoeira similarly, without losing their value…or even if they are less valued because you got them more easily, then that means you can reach even higher and then value *those* achievements.
p.s. Totally hear you on the meia lua de compassos! “Keep your eye on the same spot, keep your eye on the same spot…” πŸ˜‰

30 04 2008
Balanca

I meant to post on this topic earlier, but I think I can give a new angle on Gigante & Cenoura’s comments. I would say that at my academy I have seen 2 students come in the door who just had an instinctual sense for the game, and seemed to be able to play on the same level as much higher cords with VERY little time or effort put in.

BUT neither of them train consistently or work hard in class. Maybe they show up for rodas, but never to train . . . or they just drop out of sight for long periods of time.

There may be other complicating factors in their lives keeping them from capoeira, but to me, it looks like they don’t have the drive to train because it’s given them very little results.

And I’ve seen other students catch up with them, because they aren’t improving.

So i would say that it’s not necessarily their enjoyment of capoeira that’s lessened, but perhaps their sense of accomplishment . . . but also certainly their sense that they earned their achievement, and thereby the drive to keep improving.

3 05 2008
Gigante

Take the thought a little bit further; imagine what life would be like if nothing was -ever- a challenge. That’s what really makes it strike home for me. I think about it on that large, general level, and the thought of a life that’s that boring and monotonous terrifies me. That’s how I’m able to value struggle so strongly.

I’m not trying to imply that people who can do something instinctively value what they can do less, because that’d depend heavily on that person’s personality. And at the same time, you’re definitely right about there being value in being able to do something as opposed to just looking forward to one day being able to do it. There has to come a point when a struggle to gain a skill loses it’s fun and becomes frustrating. I just like to point out that there’s -also- a lot to be said for that skill-gaining process. I know I couldn’t live without it.

Took me so long to answer this because it set off a torrent of side thoughts that I’m still trying to distill… but I think this captures mostly what I meant.

3 05 2008
Joaninha

Chan:

Thanks for your comment! You made a lot of really good points, about the mountain, and the journey…I don’t know about the filming though because our teacher did that in class once and watching myself could’ve counted as cruel and unusual punishment under Canadian Law… πŸ˜„ Although you are right about it being good for if I want to see hard evidence of improvement.

What you said about capoeira being a lifelong journey is true…that part about the blink of an eye was exactly what my friend said as well, and he’s been doing capoeira for about 8 years I think.

Also, along the lines of what I told Shayna, I am definitely going to try working on dialogue and game conversation more, because that’s what I love and am amazed by most about capoeira. Thank you for reinforcing my motivation to do so!
I’m doing great, and you? Wow, so do you have a lot of students then, if you’re the only school there?

Thanks again for what you wrote!

3 05 2008
Joaninha

Shayna (III !):

Thank you; that’s a great story, and I suppose I should’ve figured! πŸ™‚

8 05 2008
Shayna

Haha, I think the reason I’m particularly passionate about this topic is that I’ve seen so many people – and they are disproportionately female – get really discouraged in capoeira and even quit because they can’t do the fancy stuff, or feel they don’t “measure up” in other areas. Even though they know that that’s not what’s important, their group gives such a strong impression that they have a hard time convincing themselves otherwise… it kills me!

I’ve definitely been β€œraised” to value floreios, so it would just be nice to rasteira that triple-twist backflip, then quickly top it off with something of my own while they’re still down. πŸ˜„

Two thoughts – actually, three:

– Remember that floreios doesn’t equal flips. You can still “top it off” with one of your own movements, but it can be something simple – maybe a wiiide open au that highlights the fact that they are temporarily incapacitated and would never be able to cabecada you. Maybe a nice headstand that you just hold for however long it takes them to get up :p. Maybe you simply turn to the bateria or the “audience” and bow with a flourish! (but always keep one eye on them – nothing worse than trying to be a mandingueira and having it backfire b/c you weren’t prepared! :D)

– How many mestres – or people over 40 – do you see doing aerial floreios? Very, very few. Is it because their bodies no longer allow them to? Or because they’ve evolved their game to a point of maturity where they realize the good capoeira isn’t in the flashy stuff, but rather in the mandinga…

– And on that same note, another story (I should write a book…):

My mestre went to play w/someone relatively new to angola. This person thought that in capoeira angola it was “required” to start your game with a queda de rins at the pe do berimbau, so as soon as he got down there, he immediately did a queda de rins, before even shaking the mestre’s hand. Mestre smirked and then did a flamboyant imitation of what the student had just done – carefully sweeping off the space where he was going to do the queda de rins, calling everyone’s attention to SHOW that he was about to do a queda de rins, doing the most deliberate and intentional queda de rins possible as though it were his solemn duty, and then springing back up with an “okay! Now I’m ready to play!” look on his face. The student later told me that he was so rattled by that blatant mockery within the first 30 seconds, that he was “off” during the whole rest of the game – and was kicked, tripped, and taken down that much more easily.

Maybe I’ve shared this one before, but man it was CLASSIC!

9 05 2008
Joaninha

Balanca and Gigante, I’m so sorry, somehow I overlooked your comments!! It’s a good thing Shayna came back to revive this thread!

9 05 2008
Joaninha

Balanca:

Thank you; your comment DID help to further illuminate this perspective for me! How I understand it now after reading what you wrote, is that because there’s no challenge (and/or thus heightened feelings of achievement), they’re not as interested and so they have no (or less) passion for capoeira, and it means less to them. And once I grasped it in those terms, it all clicked. Having no passion for something (for anything, now that we’re on the topic) is a terrible thing, and would definitely be a loss. So I suppose if achieving macaco after 1000 tries instead of after 1 try is the price of the passion I have for capoeira (which has given me everything from friends to amazing travel experiences to this blog), then it is definitely worth it!

9 05 2008
Joaninha

Gigante:

Thank you, for your thoughts, and for trying so hard to have me see!

I’m a little hesitant to say this because I don’t want to get into a habit of, as Akira warned me, negative reinforcement, but…well, I definitely understand how boring (and probably seemingly and terrifyingly pointless) life would be if there were never any challenge. My only problem is that I’m not applying this to all of life, but just to my capoeira one! (Although, now I’m wondering if my objections to all this just points to some inherent laziness in me…? =S)

But all of your points still stand anyway, and so combined with Balanca’s, I am starting to see a little more value in “the challenge”/”the process”.

9 05 2008
Joaninha

Shayna:

Well then, I only hope that I don’t ultimately become one of those females fueling your passion for this topic! Though I can totally relate…everyone knows it and everyone says it…but then again, they’re also the ones who can talk, seeing as they can do it all. πŸ˜„ Isn’t it typical? No one ever practices “game” or malicia on the gymnastics mat after class…even if the class itself *did* have a special focus on dialogue and conversation!

Hahaha, your floreio suggestions made me laugh. πŸ˜€ For some reason, I can only picture an angoleiro/a in my head doing that! Probably because I see angoleiro/as as the more “playful/tricksy” ones. πŸ˜›

Good point about the mestres ^^”

Omg (the story) LOVE IT!! I would’ve been doubled over on the ground if I’d been there to see it in person, I think! But that poor student…XD

p.s. You should!

9 05 2008
Joaninha

Just so you guys know,

I have actually gotten over this by now. πŸ™‚ Although I have to admit that it’s not so much because I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of “the challenge”, but because I’ve realized (and have been helped to realize) that while this year wasn’t too hot in terms of physical improvement, thanks to the very same group it was invaluable in terms of mental/philosophical growth in capoeira…and a lot of that was ALSO thanks to all of you guys, with this blog. Another thing that helped was the idea that maybe even not being able to do so many floreios will have me hone a better game in terms of pure dialogue, especially since that is my favourite part of capoeira. Thank you again, to all of you, for writing and caring!

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