So I am writing again due to the suprizingly overwhelming positive feedback I have received from a lot of you who have approached me personally regarding this blog and in particular a few topics I have addressed in the health fitness and movement field.
In honesty I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by those that care for me (and those that don’t!) Not to waste time and effort to write about these ‘useless topics’- That my tone is too harsh, bitter, critical and negative, that people care not and above all it is not good for business nor my public (fictional) profile.
That I should just stick to keeping on the ‘surface level’, teach and talk about ‘how to’ do the movements.
So thank you for your feedback and I guess I will carry on to voice some, not so popular opinions out here.
‘Capoeira, love the practice not the politics..’
Wow, ok so where do I start..
Well. Interestingly enough, this is a statement I have had thrown at me before without even bothering to respond to it, but just last week I saw it again as I had it forwarded to me by a friend who confusingly came by it and wanted to know what I thought about it.
It was posted by a young, so called ’multi disciplinary’, ‘movement teacher’ that mainly teaches Capoeira and its movement philosophy (now commonly referred to as ‘generalism’) and technique.
Regardless of the fact the statement alone is a contradiction to it self and clearly is a political one, I will address it regardless.
Once again, this is not in order to attack you or anybody- But to raise consciousness/awareness and hopefully indirectly help to educate.
So how do think Capoeira came to be here? Where do think it came from? And what do think Capoeira is?
You love the practice right? Let me try and guess, the practice is what? The movements? Playing the game? Do you even know what the game is? Or what the practice is? Where did you learn? Who taught you? Do you even know what the ‘word ‘Capoeira’ means? Do you think if it wasn’t for the ‘politics’, Capoeira would have ever reached you the way it has? Or that you would be using and referring to Capoeira as one of the ‘disciplines’ that you sell, instructing others to perform QDR’s, Macacos, bananeiras, Raizes to get paid?
All of these questions are relevant to this nonsensical and ignorant statement.
This may spoil your happy, positive, light hearted instagram echo chamber. With some dark depressing things that have nothing to do with your happy present instant insta moments nor what your fans, followers or peers care to know about. But I hope you the reader, can understand that politics is tied to everything and I mean everything. I am sure most Capoeiras could relate and agree to some point, that in fact the aim or goal of Capoeira if there is such thing is freedom, whatever that means.
I know and can even relate to the statement, believe me for I have been in those pretty well polished ‘politically correct’ environments where being involved with politics, sides and opinions simply doesn’t pay, selling product does! Whether your selling a workshop, class, pt sessions or anything for that matter. So yea why would you mention or in turn know about this stuff, its bad for business just like mentioning who taught you and from where you learned is (which strangely enough is very common in the movement community) and at the end of the day none of these things affect you, or Capoeira right?
Well, in your confused ‘solipsism’ and subjective reality, you’re always right even when you’re wrong you’re right.
Although you may not want to know or care to think about it. Many ancestors of Capoeira have suffered through enslavement, chattle and economic, racism, classism, for you to be able to mention ’Capoeira’ as one of the disciplines you supposedly teach.
But you ‘love the practice, not the politics..’
Once upon a time Capoeiras were sold, enslaved - Resisted, fought, created maroon settlements (Quilombos) - where they ’declared’ their own liberty.
Capoeiras were deployed to the front lines in the war between Brazil and ‘Paraguay’ (one of the reasons to why you might of, if you even know how to play a berimbau or what that is- or sung one of the many ladahianas mentioning this or one of the most iconic Capoeira corridos parana é you might have heard while doing a ‘macaco’ in the ‘roda’).
Why do think there is the rhythm of ’cavalaria’ (cavalry/police) to warn Capoeiras from the approaching cavalry on the streets. What do you think Capoeiras fought for on the plantations, front lines, streets, rings!?
But all this, this..Has nothing to do with politics right!?.. Nor affects you teaching a low ’ponte’ (low bridge) into a QDR.
You just ‘love the practice, not the politics..’…
Just like when you listen to Samba - that there just feathers, breast and bottom. Jay Z, Tupac or Robert Nesta Marley, Nothing to do with politics, just parties and weed smoke right?
So exactly who are you trying to be? The promoter selling tickets to the show? Or the guy sitting in a cafe years later listening to Bob Marley, Or the guy impersonating him? and has no clue about his message. Or are you a part of the movement? That get the message? Because whichever you are you are POLITICAL, as everything out here is and has its ‘politics’.
But na.. You’re not… You’re not into the politics, you just ‘love the practice, not the politics..’…
I hear you though young brother. Ye ye. I get where your coming from, you want to follow the mould of success, after all who wouldn’t want that? I just I don’t think you know nor understand- what you claim you ‘practice’, have learned and teach is.
Theres a whole chapter of Capoeira (Capoeira practitioners those of Capoeira) history on ‘maltas’ (gangs) but what does that have to do with politics? Capoeira once being illegal its practitioners hunted down thrown in jail tortured and mutulated but.. What does that have to do with politics? ’Lampiao’ who is that? Why does his name pass in Capoeira?
But all this is history, its in the past - Doesn’t affect you now right? Why do you think you enjoy these beautiful ‘capoeira’ acrobatics - that which you pass off as ‘soft acrobatics’ so your audience understands, also known as ‘floreios’? Poverty and injustice had nothing to do with that right? It was just made up by kids jumping in gymnastic centres…
Ancestors were once barefoot with ‘corpo fechado’ / ‘closed body’, now its vivobarefoot, hollow body and Underarmour right?
If you think this is in a far distant past, the delusion is real.
Teachers of this art living TODAY have been through the dictatorship era in Brazil, served sentences for being Capoeiras. Mestre Moa… Who sadly is a ‘Mestre’ (master of craft) we lost recently due to a political debate… But Politics? Whats that got to do with it eh?
You just do it for the love and really ‘love the practice, not the politics..’…
Have you ever thought that no one likes or loves the politics, but some my young friend especially those who brought the art this far for you to utilise and use (your teacher or your teachers teacher maybe…or who he learned from?) didn’t have that privilege!?
Have you ever thought that by you doing Capoeira that you are already making a political statement!?
Not just Capoeira mind you. For those of you who think CAPOEIRA is just ‘negative’ POLITICS. Then so is YOGA, you think yoga has nothing to do with politics? Just think of yogas message. Hint** ‘The clues within in it’. So is VEGANISM yes, you guessed it! Its more than a diet, but maybe nothing to do with politics lol*! PARKOUR. Lol, do you think Parkour has no politics!? Or has not had a Political impact!? But I guess these things are ok to be political because at the same time they’re pop(ular) and you can be a celebrity and part of a trend. Its ok to be political when its a trend but when its a minorities politics then… That there is bad, extreme, ‘cult like’, negative politics. Ok…
Oh yea but you, ‘love the practice, not the politics..’
Ah that privilege, what a great invisible privilege we have and just mentioning and reminding ourselves of it brings some shame resistance doesn’t it…
I mean your success is not down to your privilage of learning Capoeira with no responsibility what so ever to give back, not as an apprentice to a ‘mestre’ a teacher of craft, a group, or community, no - You’re just there to learn how to learn from a master of a craft, a pedagogy so you can then sell it as your own…
No privilege here right, its just your amazing unique articulation of movements and ‘great coaching’- I guess those doing this here before you and who taught you just couldn’t figure out how to do articulate it until you arrived and carved the way for us all!
Ahh what a hero (or Heru/Horus/Jesus) achitype you are! Joseph Cambell must be the reason how you learned what a ‘QDR’ and ‘Macaco’ is!
Now notice, I didn’t delve into what I think Capoeira is, nor some philosophy of this and that. No. For that you will need to be able to shake my hand and look me in the eye directly because unlike your statement, I am going reference the points made here and point out to you in the ‘culture’ of Capoeira where they exist. In order to try and help you.
I will bare in mind though that you, ‘love the practice, not the politics..’
I get it, You want to be like that other ‘guy’ you saw doing that ‘movement’ with his top off - But you don’t want to know about the actual ‘movement’.
I understand - why learn about the apple tree? When you can just buy, sell and eat the apple? After all you don’t even need the tree right? It doesn’t exist in your reality, nor serve any purpose. But the name of the shop where you buy it does.
I get it, you don’t want to be involved in the politics between people, ‘groups’, the ‘hierarchy’ and authority. You may have an authority complex issues and with communicating with a patriarch maybe- You don’t want to be learning from troubled masters of the art not as smart and sophisticated as you are or ever could be.
I get it, you just love ‘the art’ (only the movement mind- Not the music and other stuff) and you want to be free enough to practice the way you would like to… and to be ‘connected’ at the same time… But this is not paradoxical? Contractionary nor political? No. CAPOEIRA is though right?
‘love the practice, not the politics..’
The beauty of solipsism and psychological dissociation, is that those who suffer with this disorder have the perception that the people and things around them as detached, distorted, unreal and non existent outside them resulting in the lack of empathy… I get it. I do. For this is an issue our society at large is plagued with to varying degrees and were are after all involved as we are a part of it, so I do understand.
I get it…. You think that you can articulate these ‘movements’ better than those who taught you…and… Those that tought you are … ‘Capoeira’!? They’re not people?, person(s)? Nor human beings they’re Capoeira right!!? Makes sense, because in your mind your already know Capoeira!
I get it my friend. I just hope that one day you do too.
Here’s to developing a practice and getting to know about the politics, so you can understand what you’re doing and from where that which what you’re doing is coming from.
Heres to mentioning who taught you and from where you learned. Here’s to respect. Respecting yourself and the community you learned with, Here is to your success my young brother.
Everything out here is interdependent, unlike you and your mind trying to differentiate yourself above and beyond ‘Capoeira’ (what you know of) and its so called ‘politics’ like you have none!? LOL. Any relationship you have or had involves politics and negotiations.
If you care to know something beside the movement, further reading below.
Matthias Röhrig Assunção: ‘History and Memory in Capoeira Lyrics from Bahia, Brazil'
More about gangs ‘maltas’ and Capoeira history and ‘The Formation of Capoeira Identity Throughout the Ages’ check out my brother Andrew C Eadie’s thesis for Kings College London.
On Mestre Moa’s assassination here on Lele’s wonderful blog:
For those of you teaching ‘movement’ and want to find out more about Capoeira watch the documentary. Mandinga em Manhattan, and if you are wondering where all the floor work is an coming from in the ‘movement culture’ it is largely from Capoeira Training! Yes training a big difference between it than Capoeira which is the art and ritual! and this is what you have largely been sold, thinking it is something else when in fact it is just part of!
The ladainha (Capoeira litany) below hails Zumbi-
The leader of the maroon settlement of “Quilombo dos Palmares” who fought against slavery.
The song highlights the injustice and lies which continue to plaque Brazil until today. Protesting against the 13th of may 1988- The date that princess Isabel of Brazil, supposedly ’abolished’ slavery. Although it is historical fact and documented that she signed the “Golden Law” which was to abolitionish salvery in Brazil. Mestre Moraes (Pedro Moraes Trinidad) shows us that slavery continued and the poverty that remained among african/native decedents is the proof of that. So Instead of celebrating the 13 of May as the liberation day, he hails the 20th of November as the date to be remembered – The day where Zumbi, who fought for freedom and considered in eyes of the people their hero, died.
‘A história nos engana
Diz tudo pelo contrário
Até diz que aboliçâo
Aconteceu no més do maio
A prova dessa mentira
É que da miséria ou não saio
Viva vinte de novembro
Momento para se lembrar
Não vejo no treze de maio
Nada para comemorar
Muitos tempos se passaram
E o negro sempre a lutar
Zumbi é nosso herói
Zumbi é nosso herói, colega velha
Do Palmares foi senhor
Pela causa de homen negro
Foi ele que mais lutou
A pesar de toda luta, colega velha
O negro nâo se libertou, camara
The history misleads (lies, tricks) us
Instead It says it all the contrary
’til it says that the Abolition
Happened in the month of May
The Proof of this lie
Is in the the misery that did not leave us
Long live the 20th of November
A moment to remember
I do not see anything on the 13th of May
theres nothing there to celebrate
A lot of times have passed
And black people always (have fought) struggled
Zumbi is our hero
Zumbi is our hero, my old freind
of Palmares, he was the Lord (king)
For the cause of black man
It was him who fought more than anyone else
In spite of all the fight (and struggle) , old friend
The black is not free, comrade
Below is a famous ladainha about Capoeiras being called out to fight on the front lines to fight in the way between Brazil and Paraguay. Over time this has evolved to stand for resistance, as the locations and names are changed and edited by practitioners to relate to the moment in time. You can read more about this on Matthias Röhrig Assunção’s work on the link above.
Tava lá em casa,
Sem pénsar sem maginar
Quando ouvi batér na porta
Salomão mandou chámar
Era hora de lutar
Para ajudar a vencer
A batalhá liberal
Eu que nunca fui de luta
Nem pretendia lutar
amigo velho Botei a arma na mão
Era tempo de lutar..
- public domain
I was there in the house
without thinking or imagining
When I heard a knock on the door
Salomão ordered to call
It was time to fight
To help win
the fight to break free
I had never faught Nor wanted to fight, old friend
I took a weapon in my hand
It was time to fight…