Review: Capoeira Beyond Brazil

29 01 2009

Back to apologies mode…sorry, guys.  My new schedule thanks to work is insane, and I barely have time to cook and clean, let alone read or write anything of substance!  I may be going on another hiatus soon, but not before I release the Mandingueira Retrospect Magazine (only table of contents left!!!).  For now, here is my long-promised review of Capoeira Beyond Brazil!

Capoeira Beyond Brazil is written by Aniefre Essien and published by Blue Snake Books. I was really looking forward to reading this book because of the “international aspect” it seemed to have, and was really interested in seeing how capoeira would be treated in an international context.  Having said that, the book had both its ups and downs.

When I was in high school (please excuse the temporary non-sequitar; this is related, I swear!), our social studies teacher gave us a tour of the school library’s references section. There was Encyclopedia Britannica, World, Canadiana, etc., and there were racks of Time Magazine, as well.  Upon showing us the latter, our teacher told us, “Here we have Time World, which is about the United States, and here we have Time Canada, which is about the world.” (That’s still one of my all-time favourite quotes, by the way.)

Well, reading Capoeira Beyond Brazil, unfortunately, brings that quote to mind. I suppose you could say it goes beyond Brazil—but only as far as the United States (skipping over Mexico and Central America along the way). Maybe it was just me, but for some reason I’d been expecting a slightly more academic, ambitious piece with a larger scope than it had. I was expecting to read about capoeira in Asia, Australia, and (present-day!) Africa, about globalization or international relations (and capoeira’s influence from or on them, of course) and sociological theory more so than personal anecdotes and basic/typical introductory capoeira lore.

However, the book does have it good points, as well.  Essien touches interestingly on some topics that I don’t think I’ve seen quite touched on the same way before, such as the horridly ironic phenomenon of some capoeira teachers using capoeira as a “tool of oppression” on their students. The book is healthily “progressive” from a feminist point of view, and I enjoyed reading the capoeirista interviews at the end (though again, the interviews, similarly to the rest of the book, only feature “A Few U.S. Capoeiristas”).

One interview which especially resonated with me was the first one, by a former capoeirista who left the game because he felt that people were beginning to bring too much ugliness into the art and violating the spirit of the game. He said a lot of things that I found insightful and agreed with, especially in regards to fighting in the roda/in capoeira, mentioning how “students have been trained to fight in the name of the instructor, not necessarily because that student feels that s/he has to fight”. The capoeirista being interviewed concludes, “I have to separate the concept of capoeira from how it’s actually practiced by individuals who tend to bring in the element of machismo.”

Overall, Capoeira Beyond Brazil was an okay read. It just didn’t turn out to be what I’d expected it to be, which is the only reason I was disappointed. I think it would be an ideal gift to give to a beginner capoeira student, and even more so for an American beginner capoeira student. The writing itself is fine, Essien’s experience as a capoeirista and capoeira teacher shows through with no question, and I’m always up for a good capoeira anecdote, so in that respect the book is great.  For what I mentioned earlier, I guess I’ll just have to wait till some international affairs post-doc gets hooked on capoeira!

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Mandingueira Holiday Giveaway Winners: Congratulations!

3 01 2009

Blue Snake Books

First off, thank you to everyone who participated in this contest!  It was genuinely nice to hear from all of you, and whether or not you participated this time, I hope all of you are further encouraged to comment for whatever reasons in the future. Now, without further ado…

The winner of the Mandingueira on Facebook exclusive draw is Isabella Chan.  Congratulations, Isabella! Please send me your mailing address ASAP so I may send you your copy of Capoeira Beyond Brazil.

As for the general draw…okay, well, so here’s the deal.  I thought I’d do something REALLY COOL, and actually filmed the draw (I used my cabaça as the receptacle) so you guys could watch and all be in on the process.  Unfortunately, everything but my camera refused to cooperate (i.e. WordPress, QuickTime, Youtube, and this other file management site I used to rely on), so I wasn’t able to upload the video. And believe me, I tried!  There was background capoeira music and a little “Congratulations!” sign at the end and everything!  So in (sad) lieu, please imagine the berimbau equivalent of a drum roll as you read the following:

UPDATE: IF ALL ELSE FAILS, TURN TO FACEBOOK!

Please click here to view the giveaway draw 😀

The winners are…

  • earthsoulmind[at]hotmail[dot]com

  • skymandr

  • ebcpirulito[at]gmail[dot]com

  • Inglijh

Congratulations to all the winners!  Please send me your mailing address BEFORE MONDAY so I can post your copies of Capoeira Beyond Brazil out to you before I leave for Montreal (again, my flight is on Wednesday and I would seriously appreciate not having to include 5 copies of the same book within my 23kg baggage limit!). If for whatever reason you don’t want or can’t have the book, also let me know ASAP, please, so I can draw a new winner. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy Capoeira Beyond Brazil, and to reiterate, I will be writing a review of it within the upcoming weeks.

Thank you so much again to everyone for participating. If you didn’t win this time, look on the bright side: the universe now owes you some other form of good karma. 🙂  Finally, thank you to Blue Snake Books for sponsoring this contest.

I look forward to hearing more from and meeting more of you in 2009!





Mandingueira’s Holiday Giveaway (Capoeira Beyond Brazil): Win 1 of 5 Free Capoeira Books!

25 12 2008

Yes, you read that right—happy holidays, everyone!  With much thanks to the sponsorship of Blue Snake Books, Mandingueira is offering YOU, my loyal, lovely, and lethally cool readers, a chance to win 1 of 5 free copies of the latest capoeira book on the market: Capoeira Beyond Brazil: From a Slave Tradition to an International Way of Life, by Aniefre Essien.

I’ve actually had my eye on this book for a while, since I discovered its planned October release way back in February, so I’m extremely excited about this!  I feel like it speaks to an area nearly every capoeirista outside of Brazil would be deeply interested in: the globalization of capoeira. Of course, this is me still judging by the cover, but it won’t be for much longer!  In addition to the five copies for you guys, Blue Snake sent me a review copy for myself, so I will be reading and posting a review of Capoeira Beyond Brazil in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, click here for the book’s official synopsis.

This giveaway was originally to be in honour of Mandingueira’s one-year anniversary (it was the second surprise I mentioned!), but I didn’t want to announce it until I had the books in my hand, and due to a warehouse backlog they arrived only yesterday—just in time for Christmas!  Either way though, the purpose of this remains the same: to show my appreciation for all of you, and give something back for everything you’ve added to this blog. Since I am still(!) working on the Mandingueira One-Year Retrospect magazine, these are further tokens of my thanks and appreciation for you, and I hope you will enjoy the books!

Now, I’m sure I’ve held you long enough in suspense…let’s get down to the important details.

MANDINGUEIRA’S HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY:
OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES

1. Winners will be picked by random draw.

2. The FIRST way to enter the draw is to post a comment of substance on any post on Mandingueira. This means adding to the discussion, raising new ideas, contributing information, constructive criticism, constructive praise, etc. You can also simply introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your capoeirista/Mandingueira reader/feminist/activist/etc. background, whichever are applicable, if any. (Calling all lurkers, this is for you! 🙂 ) Trite/easy comments such as “Great post!” or “Cool contest!” will be appreciated but not counted, and trolls (NOT to be confused with respectful, reasoned disagreement) will be disqualified. If you post more than one comment (including replies to other people’s comments), I will enter your name once for each comment, up to a maximum of three (3) comments.

3. The SECOND way to enter the draw is to subscribe to Mandingueira, by RSS feed or by email. If you subscribe by email, I will see your email address and be able to count you. If you subscribe by RSS feed, you will have to notify me after you do, through email or dropping a line under this post. (Telling me that you subscribed does not alone count as a comment, unless it is part of a comment that is eligible otherwise.) Obviously, this is honours system-based. Please respect that and refrain from scamming the contest.

4. You may subscribe AND leave comments, for a maximum of 4 entries in the draw (up to 3 comments + 1 subscription).

5. One book will be reserved for an exclusive draw for fans of Mandingueira on Facebook. To be eligible for the exclusive draw, you must be already a fan of the page or join by the end of December 26, 2008 (my time). Note: Those eligible for the exclusive draw may also enter in the general draw, in the ways described above.

6. This contest ends at 11:59pm on January 1, 2009 (my time).

7. At that point I will collect names from all comments and subscriptions from now until then, for both the general draw and exclusive draw. (All comments are recorded in one place on my WordPress Dashboard, which is how I can still keep track if they’re on different posts all over the blog.) Random names will be drawn and the winners notified. There will be two draws overall: one general draw for four books, and the exclusive Facebook page draw for one book. Each winner will receive 1 book, even if your name is drawn more than once.

7. On entering the draw, you must give a legitimate email address so I can contact you if you win, as well as be willing to give me a legitimate mailing address upon winning so that I can send the book to you. I must send out all the prizes by January 7th (because I have a flight that day for a new job in another city), so if a winner does not respond with their address before then, they either forfeit the prize or may not receive it for another 4-8 months.

8. Your entering the contest signifies that you understand and accept the Mandingueira Holiday Giveaway Official Contest Rules.

9. Help spread the word! Your capoeira friends thank you, and so do I. 😀

I hope all of that was clear!  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the giveaway.  Happy Holidays!





New Book! Capoeira Beyond Brazil

19 02 2008

Now this one, I’m looking forward to!  Another winning combination for me: capoeira and poli sci/international relations.  😀  This book also seems like it’ll be particularly relevant to all us gringas (that’s not a derogatory term, is it?) who do capoeira.  It comes out October 2008—people do presents for Hallowe’en, right?

From North Atlantic / Blue Snake Books:

Capoeira Beyond Brazil, by Aniefre EssienUntil recently, Brazilians dominated the market on capoeira books, yet the form has spread across the globe over the last four decades. This expansion from the favelas (slums) to the world stage has introduced a host of new capoeira practitioners with varied lineages, techniques, and traditions. In Capoeira Beyond Brazil, Aniefre Essien brings an international, political perspective to capoeira, speaking to both the novice and aficionado, as well as to historians, martial artists, social justice organizers, and youth development professionals.

Essien shows capoeira in its complete historical context, providing not only technical instruction but a critical history that highlights the political milestones of the form. Author Essien doesn’t shy away from the realities of the capoeira community, directly illustrating principles that should be embraced, as well as established norms in practice and instruction worth questioning.

Capoeira Beyond Brazil expands the meaning of capoeira with a sociocultural consideration of the effects internalization has had on the form. Showcasing Essien’s own experiences using capoeira training at-risk youth, the book articulates the form’s empowering aspects with strategies for using martial arts to foster individual self-reliance and confidence, as well as a commitment to community development.

Author Biography:

Aniefre Essien, aka Tartaruga, started teaching capoeira to at-risk youth in Oakland, California, in 1988. Since then he has studied with Mestres Russo, Ralil, and João Pequeño. A three-time gold medal winner at the Copa des Americas, and the editor of Mestre Preguiça’s book Capoeira: The Art of Survival, he lives in Oakland, CA.