Source: Portal Capoeira
One day, a mother who used to play capoeira went to look for the perfect capoeira group for her son. On the first corner she saw a gym with a big poster advertising capoeira classes. When she went in, there was a stairway up to the second floor, where the capoeira classes were held. The stairway was all decorated with photos and banners with pictures of shirtless, muscular men doing flips or splits, and for the most part with facial expressions that looked like they were either angry or in pain.
The mother thought, “This capoeira is different from the capoeira I used to play, but maybe it’s because I’m many years out of practice and all this represents the evolution of capoeira…” When she reached the class, the mother noticed that there was one person giving class to many others, and very loud and fast music was playing. The people were all in line, facing a muscular man with his clothes full of logos, as though he were a human advertising banner. This man also ran the class with loud shouts, orders, and an intimidating voice. The mother thought, “This capoeira is different from the capoeira I used to play, but maybe it’s because I’m many years out of practice and all this represents the evolution of capoeira…”
The mother patiently waited for the class to end and then went to speak with the teacher. She started off by asking, “What style of capoeira is practiced here? I’m looking for a good group for my son.”
The teacher, with a wide and friendly smile, took a drink of a famous energy drink (the same brand as the logos on his uniform) and said: “We practice modern capoeira here – a more agile capoeira that is stronger, more beautiful, and above all very efficient as a martial art. Have you ever heard of Anderson Silva, the UFC champion?” Before the mother could respond, the teacher continued, “So as I’m saying, capoeira today is even in the vale-tudo ring and we teach everything here. You can relax, because here your son will learn to be a man. I’ll accompany him closely, teaching him from our group’s official handshake to the best finalization techniques in rougher games. We’ll definitely straighten him out, and he’ll be ready to face any situation on the streets.”
The mother politely thanked the teacher for the explanation and said goodbye, but as she walked away the teacher said, “And when are you going to bring your son to sign him up? Be careful, because the capoeira groups in this area aren’t good. Ours is the best for him, because we have many branches throughout the world. Plus, I’m a Physical Education professor…”
The mother, who couldn’t be silent any longer, politely asked for a minute of the teacher’s attention. She sat down with him in a corner and asked, “Teacher, what’s your name?”
He replied, “I’m known in the rodas as ‘Xicara sem alça’ (cup without a handle)”
The mother said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Xicara. I want to thank you again for the explanations, but I have no intention of signing my son up here. I can imagine how a crooked nail feels as it receives hammer blows to straighten it out… of course, if the nail could speak, it would say ‘Ow! Ow! It hurts!’ – and since my son can speak, it would interrupt you with your shouts.”
“About the technical efficiency for fights, I don’t think that’ll be necessary for him, because I’ve taught my son that the best way to deal with conflicts is through dialogue. As incredible as it seems, I learned this with a capoeirista named Joao Pequeno de Pastinha, but you most likely don’t know him, because… this capoeira here is different from the capoeira I played, but maybe it’s because I’m many years out of practice and all this represents the evolution of capoeira.”
The mother continued: “I’d like to find a group for my son that could teach him how to live in the midst of diversity, and here you tell me that even the handshake is standardized. I want a group in which my son can develop his individuality within the group and above all BE HAPPY… When I saw the way you teach, I realized that you know the techniques of Physical Education – because I’m also a P.E. teacher – however, I think that the method practiced here does not fit with the ancestrality of capoeira, since it kills autonomy and diminishes the students’ power of creativity and reason.”
“Therefore, professor ‘Xicara,’ I recommend that you study more about capoeira and the old Mestres, and only afterwards try to find out which Physical Education method would be best for fulfilling our ancestral duty with capoeira.”
The teacher “Xicara sem alça” was silent, still perplexed with everything that he had heard from this simple mother. The mother said goodbye with a happy smile, wishing the teacher a good day and making one last request – that he seek out the older capoeiristas and try to learn from them what it means to BE a capoeirista, because the main objective of capoeira, as a human practice, will always be to bring happiness to its practitioners, regardless of styles and marketing formats, because if this modern capoeira represents evolution, I’m afraid of what it will be in the time of my grandchildren.
This little story, although fictional, illustrates well the conflicts in capoeira these days. We need to be careful not to reinforce the “oppressor” that is being created internally, due to our traditional training and business.
Mestre Jean Pangolin
“Stones in the path? I keep them all; one day I’ll build a castle… ”
Jean Adriano Barros da Silva
Tel: 55 71 8109 2550 / 3363 4568 / 3366 4214
75 9168 7534 / 75 3634 2653
Bahia – Brasil