It’s been a crazy week of rushing to get to a three hour long Capoeira workshop every night after work. Between work and two children I am usually fairly stretched without the addition of a nightly session. The baby sitter got a lot of overtime.
But all of that seems so irrelevant compared to those precious sessions with masters in Capoeira who came all the way from Brazil to teach us. I wish I could somehow have soaked up every moment, every word, and every joke. I have never felt more energized, alive and wide awake as I did night after night standing in that class.
We have been super charged in enthusiasm but also emotion. These people are not strangers. They are our family. We don’t use the same words but we speak the same language. We don’t have the same religions but we hold the same faith. We believe in the same things. Somehow we have connected on a level that is essentially driven by a mutual love for everything that is Capoeira.
That is to say, we all love the sport, we love to play and be playful. We love the adaptability. But we also all believe in certain way of life. It is moderate. It is healthy, and it’s fun.
We also all believe that humanity is essentially good. We are a colourful family. Like all families we have our drama’s, we have shared joys and our shared grief. We have all pushed through our hard times together and been there for each other in the moments when we have felt like we just can’t anymore. But thanks to each other we have stuck it out. And it has a kind of unifying factor.
We are strong for and because of each other.
I have often heard capoeira being compared to game of chess. But to me it is more like Poetry in Motion. A fluid, flowing, adaptable thing that has no set route. If it had an element I would have to say it is liquid.
Today I had a minor little collapse. I actually did something I never do and spent a rainy day watching movies! Utterly spent from a week of solid capoeira I am not sure if I am more exhausted by the physical demands I put on my body or by the intense emotional charge that the Brazilian masters bring with them. The Axé, as we call it, has been amazing. Every game is special. Everything that has been said has been etched onto our souls because each word is spoken with so much passion and feeling.
What I find truly most amazing about Capoeira, what I feel sets us apart from other martial arts more than any other factor, is that when you go far afield to play or fight against other schools in any other martial art, you are going to fight an opponent. You and your team are taking on them and their team. You have your trade secrets and they have theirs. With Capoeira, it is completely different. When you go far afield to play or “jogo” at another school, you are walking from a nuclear family into a bigger, extended family. Your focus in playing against each other is one of learning from each other and sharing with each other, rather than one of beating each other.
If you are a Capoeirista you will unquestioningly open your home to other traveling capoeiristas who need a place to stay. Likewise you know that you can be assured of somewhere to crash for a night if ever you are traveling through a town with capoeira people who even know your capoeira people.
I got to putting the theory to the test this past weekend. After days of Capoeira we arrived at the long awaited grading and Batizado. Amped to the gills myself and the three high school kids I give a lift to rushed off up the stairs to the venue and I completely forgot that as it was a rainy day, I had my headlights on!
Four hours later we came down to a very dead battery. There were small scraggly troops of exhausted Capoeiristas drifting off in their own directions. I hailed on of them and that was that. In no time at all a group of guys who I only know by their apiledos (nicknames) were pushing my car around and around the Spar parking lot in the rain. When push starting failed us they rallied around until jumper cables were found. Still no luck. Eventually they managed to find a complete stranger who happened to have some tools in his car and convinced him to swop his battery for mine to get my engine running in a very South African McGuiver type manoeuvre ( It was at this point that our comrade “Sainto” coined a little joke, “How many Capoeiristas does it take to change a batteria?”). All of this was achieved without anyone getting their white abadas (capoeira pants) stained, I might add!
All in all they made sure that I got out of there with my engine running, the kids got back to hostel on time with another capoeirista, and when we had a braai together later that evening it was as if it didn’t even happen. It is just a given that we will help each other out.
I guess It’s kind of a family thing…
Saying goodnight and goodbye at the end of that final evening when we all ate together was one of the hardest goodbyes I have had to make in a good long time. Leaving was very difficult, when such a beautiful and vastly diverse array of people were gathered together. Everyone was laughing and telling stories, translating them back and forth into at least three languages, and yet somehow we all understood each other and the feeling of unity and love is so real, so solid. But eventually my tired children had to be carried to the car so that I could get them home to bed.
I awoke this morning with very mixed emotions. So tired physically. So happy to be part of something so wonderful. So sad because we never know if and when we will see any individual again.
Especially after last Batizado and grading when one of our key members didn’t make it home, but was tragically taken from us in a car accident instead. It made it that much more real to us all, the awareness of how special these moments are when we are gathered together. It’s a big world, but the Capoeira community remains a small and close knit family. I am so proud to be part of them that I am now rambling….
Happy 40th anniversary Barrivento!