The weather was beautiful.
Its was carnival weekend, so I decided to take my self to my regular training spot in 'Brockwell' (park) for my daily dose of movement medicine. Looking round at my surroundings its was amazing to see how this area had changed over the years and in this feeling of melancholy and nostalgia I began to move and work with the familiar.
In the air was the Brixton I've grown in, smells of barbecue jerk and weed all wrapped up in the sounds of reggae and rhythms of the diaspora. Further up the hill I could hear drummers, drumming away and I had already started to warm and move to their rhythms.
After 30mins of confusing, confronting, intriguing and at times embarrassing onlookers - in a moment as I was upside down, a stray football gently rolled toward me and in my inquisitive instinct I looked over wondering where the ball had come from. As I followed the trail of the ball I was confronted by a young boy looking at me in wonder.
There stood Maurice.
Without a word in exchange I understood this was his invitation to play. I guess we were both the odd ones out in the park. Both 'Playing' and both- alone. It's funny how what you need always finds you when you need it most.
Over the next 4 hours Maurice was going to become, my apprentice, student, teacher, coach and best of all my friend. Right away I could see that Maurice was interested in what I was doing, as he was tilting his head to the right imitating me, trying to understand what the world looks like upside down and so I decided to connect with that which he new and was familiar with (football) to what I was doing - It was an incredible mix and exchange of energy, creativity - co-ordination and imagination.
We made human goals with our bodies and used our hands as our feet. We climbed in and around barred railings, crawled and pretended to move like animals.
The most interesting thing was, we made up all these games as we went along. There was no winner or looser, we were exploring. Sliding, jumping, twisting bending - crawling, climbing, pushing, pulling, spinning. All the while Maurice never asked me what I was doing, of course not! As he already knew. To him unlike others it was obvious, He told me 'I am a caveman, I am from the jungle- and in the jungle we do all these things'.
Maurice was to become my teacher, He wanted to learn how I do the 'monkey leap' (back summersault) after the 'falling star' (cartwheel). So we began the journey, what was impressive and very interesting about this in hindsight was Maurice's ability to try, but not get attached to the objective/outcome or 'skill'. For him doing this move was what he wanted, but he wasn't bothered whether he could or not - he was enjoying himself thoroughly - and in doing this he was creating many new amazing moves. It was an incredible feeling being a part of all this. We were playing, together in the dream state, process of make believing. Maurice and I had started to create our world. People around us watched on, trying to figure out what it was that we were doing. After some time a guy appeared asking me if he could play with Maurice's ball. I told him that we must ask Maurice, Maurice replied 'yes they can play with my ball because I share'.
I was in awe with my teacher. He had given his only prized possession for others he did not know (nor cared for him 2hrs ago) to play with and enjoy.
I wondered where my new friends family were- I wanted to meet them, he told me that his mum is working in the swimming pool very hard for long hours, this touched me and reminded me of my younger self.
As I looked around me I could now see that a community was developing in the area where we had began our practice, there was conversation, smiles and banter between the different groups who did not know each other- and who now we're asking me directly what it was that we were doing. We are 'playing' I responded, with an unsatisfied look they then tried to guess what it was we were doing. Then right there there in that moment, I understood - people need to identify, they need a 'name' - they need to define or they can't understand. But for Maurice and myself we were free from these confines of having to know, name and define, we were 'vadiando' Capoeira.
"Capoeira is in all that we are and do as we are natural born movers, creators and artists in our own right our natural state is one of play" - Baris Yazar