PhD Research on Capoeira and Social Inclusion Calls for Online Participation of Practitioners

 

 

Dear Capoeristas,

This Blog aims to build an online network of social active capoeiras collaborating on issues of education, social inclusion, intercultural learning, and Capoeira philosophy. It is also an attempt to gather collaborators to co-edit an online Journal open to submissions on the above mentioned matters.

 

 

In addition to the different different 'styles' represented by Mestres Acordeon and Cobrinha, this picture shows Mestra Suelly, an American teacher; Obelix, a Swedish instructor; a Turkish/Norwedian Fellow (?); and myself with Espião, a Chilean/Swedish student.

The 4CapoeiraThoughts Blog is a not-for-profit initiative, set as part of the data collection for my PhD programme at the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas at Griffith University (Australia). My research topic is “Capoeira and Social Inclusion in non-Brazilian Multicultural Centres”.

My overall aim with this initiative is to discuss the worldwide spreading of Capoeira; the global forces acting upon it; how practitioners are locally responding to these forces; and the art’s purpose as a potential educative and inclusive cultural practice. In addition, the Blog aims to give voice to the concerns of non-Brazilian practitioners about both their role in the spreading of Capoeira, and their role as artists within their local communities.

The 4CapoeiraThoughts is a space to learn and share more about Capoeira and its social inclusive and educative potentialities, to non-Brazilians practitioners discuss their concerns, and their endeavours within their communities.

Please, check the Blog and share your thoughts, critics and comments. Sharing and discussing our ideas is the best way to learn more about Capoeira, and its social meaning. About how do we relate with, and within, the Art.

I would also appreciate if you could spread the news about my research to other capoeiras, related blogs and websites.

Axé!

Eurico

In addition to the different different ‘styles’ represented by Mestres Acordeon and Cobrinha, this picture also shows Mestra Suelly, an American teacher; Obelix, a Swedish instructor; and myself with Espião, a Peruan/Swedish student.
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42 Responses to PhD Research on Capoeira and Social Inclusion Calls for Online Participation of Practitioners

  1. Joaninha says:

    One question: How do I apply?! xD

  2. Already done! ;)

    Why don’t we pull the thread of ‘women in Capoeira’, since you have been discussing it in your posts?

    Are women really been included in our practice? What are the difficulties women face in order to succeed?

    Axé!

    • Joaninha says:

      Hey Eurico,

      There are just two slight wrinkles I see with that…the first being, I don’t really write in my blog anymore, so there would be no new content!

      The second, I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable writing a column advertised as such…I think positing the issues that way is slightly over-simplifying and reductive. E.g. Of course women are included in capoeira, but what are some complicating factors in that inclusion…and not all “difficulties” are faced by all women, and not always due to capoeira itself or one’s capoeira group…

      Sorry, I lied, one third thing! Which is, I’m not sure why I didn’t make more of an effort to clarify this while I was still active on my blog, but I don’t feel I was about so much “women in capoeira” as “capoeira from a feminist point of view”. I think that’s a really important distinction to make.

      Which is one reason I was so excited to learn about your blog, I think, because the more I wrote, the more I realized it wasn’t necessarily the feminist aspect of doing my blog I was ultimately into (though of course still important), but the whole idea of applying critical thinking and critical theory to capoeira in general.

      Anyway, sorry for that really long response! I’ll be sure to keep following how your project unrolls.

      • Mandingueira,

        I understand that you’re no longer active on your blog, and I presume you have your motives (lack of time amongst them, possibly). So, please, forgive me if I’m insisting too much. It’s just that I think you can contribute to those critical discussions you mentioned.

        How about writing here? A post on whatever you think we should be discussing that would still be related to social inclusion, education, intercultural learning, and Capoeira philosophy.

        For instance, you say “of course women are included in Capoeira”, I believe I understand your point. Including towards what kind of values? To fulfil which kind of socio-cultural roles?

        This is a key concept in social inclusion through Capoeira, and I call it ‘the paradigm of the first inclusion’. As you said, of course Capoeira promotes social inclusion. Once someone joins Capoeira s/he will be automatically included in a group.

        Problem is: does this inclusion necessarily equips students towards a broader sense of social inclusion?

        Do you see where are you heading to with this sort of discussion? Would you like to take it further with me?

        Looking forward in hearing from you again.
        Axé!
        Eurico

  3. Pintada says:

    Hello Eurico! Wonderful site, this is a place where many thoughts (and hopefully some wisdom) can be shared! But how do I join in/add/post?

    Axé!

    • Hi Pintada,

      Thanks for visiting.

      I believe you already joined in! ;) As I said the blog is an open place for comments, posts, suggestions, ideas, etc. Once you participate, you’re already influencing the directions my research will take.

      More specifically, you can submit a post, suggest issue, and engage with (or create) discussions around the written posts.

      I’ll create a page right now explaining these things in order to make everyone’s engagement easier.

      Thanks again!
      Eurico

    • Pintada,
      It’s done. I set a new page (Join in!) explaining more about how to engage. Please let me know if it’s clear enough.
      Até mais!
      Eurico

      • Pintada says:

        Great! Let’s get kicking then! ;) I really like Zarina’s idea about sharing narratives – the reason to why capoeira appeals to an individual says a lot about this mutual interest of ours, and can also lead us to important insights on the social role of capoeira. =)

      • Pintada,

        I’m working in a paper that I’ll share here on the blog soon. But meanwhile I don’t do that, I’ll see if I can put a post with some of the questions that brought up good discussions when I was doing a pilot research on Capoeira last year.

        Hopefully, this will appeal to readers so that they will share their narratives. And we’ll all win with interesting discussions.

        Axé!

  4. Camiseta says:

    Ola mest!

    I`m from Indonesia, I`m CM. Papa-Leguas alunos. Visit us sometimes will you? :)
    You have a very nice research subject, good luck for your PhD.

    -Camiseta-

    • Oi Camiseta,

      Thanks. Feel free to drop your comments and suggestions collaborating with the project.

      It would be very nice to visit your work, of course I would like to pay you guys a visit, as soon as I have time.

      Axé!
      Eurico

  5. Z says:

    Hi Eurico,

    Why not ask capoeiristas to write narratives about why they practice capoeira? Maybe this can help shed a light on further issues, such as women in capoeira, spreading ideas or values of capoeira, etc. Narratives are always interesting! :)

    Zarina

    • Hi Zarina,

      That’s a good idea. Any ideas on how should we hook up our ‘camaradas’? Should they leave their comments on a post, or should we post something calling for post submissions?

      Axé!
      Eurico

  6. Pedra says:

    Comment on your blog…!

    You have very developed ideas about culture and capoeira.

    I think I just can say what I see threw working with capoeira here in Sweden/Helsingborg and what I see when I go to capoeiragroups near by.

    It seems like everybody I meet that plays capoeira and are not from Brasil are very starved feed with capoeira-nolige around here. People take what little knowledge they have about capoeira and make it their truth, and they won’t let go of that truth easily!

    For example:
    There was a person that came to my traning. He had been training with FICA for 1/2 year. Then he moved and played with Abada for 1 year and
    then he took a break for 2 years. Now he came to my aula and I could easely identify him as an Angoleiro.

    Me myself have never been in any kind of identycrisis about capoeira. I started with Cordao de Ouro and I am still with Cordao de Ouro. And think that it is the best and happyest way of expressing capoeira. You
    hold on to your original truth and it’s very hard to change that.

    Currently I’m reading a book about training-psykology and coaching. There they describe that the goal of the coach directly effects the development of the student. If the coach is teaching for the students benefit or for him self. If he has his own gain in focus he will try to convince and manipulate the student but if he knows what goals the
    student has in capoeira and whants to help with this, the coach will give guidelines and coach instead.

    When I work with trying to find out what capoeira is I think about what you say about this Mestre Angoleiro. And that he and others make new rules in capoeira for their own benefit. With this in mind I will always be looking at diffrent capoeiraschools that had truths about capoeira with my sceptical eyes.

    I don’t know what impact your blog has on other people, but Im enlightend with a will to research more about what capoeira is and how I should work with it.

    /Pedra

    • Hi Pedra,

      Thanks for your contributions! First, let me help you with something you miss understood. Mestre Angoleiro is standing firmly against the ‘invention of traditions’. He comes from a time when the role of traditions would never be put higher than receiving people politely within an activity. A time when the cultural practice was uphold above brand-like groups or brand-like styles.

      I’m happy to discuss ‘The Wisdom of the Brazilian People’ with you further if you want. This post discusses important concepts to the understanding of today’s ‘traditions’.

      Having said all that, it’s good to know that young instructors like you are reading about education. I totally agree with you that the teachers role is to foster his students career, not his. In fact, the teacher’s career will be in the right path if s/he prioritise his/her students’ goals.

      But why do you think that “People take what little knowledge they have about capoeira and make it their truth, and they won’t let go of that truth easily!”? Don’t you think that other people feel the same about their groups as you do about yours? And also, if all capoeiristas hold on to their ‘original truths’, how can we learn from our cultural interactions?

      Finally, it might be that your ‘Angoleiro’ fellow, regardless of being in an identity crises or in search for a more broad truth, being open to ‘inter-group’ interaction, he’ll be the one learning more about Capoeira culture in a wider sense. After all, being a capoeira is also about being an adventurous person, open to new forms of interactions (be it in a game or in life).

      Axé!
      Eurico

      • Pintada says:

        Interesting questions! I would dare to claim that since we humans are in fact pack-animals we love the feeling of belonging. When we belong to a class/team/group/gang we feel “safe”. But since all such named groups have one or more “leaders” it is very much up to them to remind the groups members of variations that might exist. If the individual memeber then wishes to Listen(!!!) to these facts is of course a completely different matter!
        I’m also a “member” of CDO, but I don’t think of myself that way – I am (just) a capoerista! Perhaps I owe this opinion to my trainer who never says “this is how WE do it, that’s how THEY do it”, or perhaps I’m simply secure enough in myself anyways? But regardless of that; a trainer who would emphasize differences rather than similarities within the capoeira world would “create” such stubborn students who would not easily give up on “their truths”.

        • Pintada,

          To a great extent the line we draw separating “us” from “them” defines our identities and feeling of belonging. So identities are based upon differences as much as upon similarities.

          The question is how do we deal with these differences. What, how, and when do we emphasise one or another? As you put it. And also, how can we foster the understanding that the adoption of a broader identity does not necessarily erases one’s particularities.

          Is it possible to have a group cohesive enough to pass on values (educative and inclusive ones, for instance) to its members, and yet, strongly focused on similarities?

          • Tentativa says:

            Hi All,

            I think that people tend to percieve their group as ‘better’ than other groups.Unfortunately this is something that happens anywhere where there are groups, not only in Capoeira. However for someone that knows a bit about social identity it is easy to explain. In the end it is all about having a better self perception.

            However here in Europe something very interesting is occuring as we speak. The level of group perception seems to shift a bit to ‘capoeira style’ or capoeira in general. A good example is that nowadays my teacher invites mestres/mestrandos contra mestres and professores from groups he used to fight with in street rodas in Brasil. This way we get something that students in Brasil don’t get, because we always get the best possible teachers eventhough they are or used to be of a rival group. This contributes greatly to the quality and knowledge of the European capoeiristas.

            So to answer your question to Pintada. Yes it is possible to have a group strong enough to have their own identity but also open to other ‘rival’ groups. Based on the similarity that we all are capoeiristas. Above that, in the beginning there were no groups, there only was capoeira. A famous master once told me that this is what European capoeira gave back to Brasilian capoeira.

            If you like to know more about this, search for the pascoa event in Amsterdam. This is an event where there are many people from all over europe and from many different groups and styles, getting along great within a great atmosphere! This event is not of my group, but it is worth saying, since it is a great example.

            Axé

            Tttva

  7. Panda says:

    Hi dear Eurico!
    I wanted to contribute. I didn’t know how, so I thought myabe it is not my job to find out how you gonna use the material, but just to write what I feel like and it might be of some little help to you.
    I come from Iran which is a warm land. Now I live in Västerås in Sweden which has a cold climate. I have friends from All around the world thanks to my studies in an international course in Sweden but Capoeira has been hepling me to get in the track of integrating myself in the Swedish society rather than just the International one. It has been the only place, I met Swedes and felt close enough to call them my friends. to dare to hug them and call them without any reason just to hear their voice and have a small chat.
    Why do I go to Capoeira trainings?
    As I said, I come from Iran. For you it might not be hard to imagine how Iran is, we are simillar to South americans in the aspect of interpersonal communication. We are warm and talkative people. Here in Sweden people are shy, it is hard to get hugs and smiles. People escape from looking in each others eyes and they hardly touch each other.
    I feel I get dry like a plant! if I don’t get intouch with at least one person during the day.
    under the Capoeira trainings, I get my friends who not only look in my eyes but also lock their eyes on mine. We smile at each other, give tips, get tips and care about each other.
    Ones who are better, tell us stories about their problems before and how it feels to get over something you think you can never do and ones who are feeling weaker, get tips from us and we pay back what we have got before.
    I feel like when we are in the room in which we do training, there is nothing else in the world that can distract us. We are there 100% so it makes it even more pleasant to interact.
    I do something wrong and there are people around who see it and care and try to help because there is nothing more important at that exact time.
    In Capoeira I face my body’s abilities and I get surprised.
    I can see where are the weaknesses hiding and why? then I work on them and week after week I see the improvements.
    Capoeira movements and Music are coming deep from inside, from nature and it makes me calm. The instruments are just simple things mayeb not found in Sweden but some where on earth with the least artificial, chemical, industrial processing on them. When a Capoeirista’s body dies if you put his Berimbau beside him under earth, they both get back to nature, it is the same if we burn them and I think it is beautiful.
    Many times, it happens that training is finished but nobody moves to go out, Obelix has to almost kick us out. Some times, I put on my shoes and my coat and scarf and then just sit there, look at my friends who are trying to get a movement done perfectly or trying to get a rythm out from Berimbau. I just sit there and think, how much I like these people because we have been going through more or less the same thing and enjoy from teh same things and can communicate with some words and expressions that just belongs to us and nobody elese.
    These were some aspects rather than the obvious mental coordination and physical attractions and influences of Capoeira in my life.
    I realy appriciate your commitment and wish you the best.
    With Respect and Love
    Mahgol

    • Hi Panda,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience, feelings and impressions! You sure contributed to our discussions.

      Would you mind in stretching this ‘conversation’ a little longer?

      Can you tell us what in Capoeira (or how
      it does so) helps your inclusion within the Swedish society? Also how different it is to interact with them from your study experience (once you mentioned it’s also a multicultural environment)?

      It would be interesting to read about your experience interacting with both the Swedish and the International community from within and out of Capoeira as well.

      Another of your statements that stroke me was “Capoeira movements and Music are coming deep from inside, from nature and it makes me calm”. Would you mind in exploring this further? How does that happen? It must be difficult to build this sort of connections through movements, instruments and rhythms alien to your first cultural background, or not??

      Again, thanks for your help!
      Axé!
      Eurico

      • Pintada says:

        Hi!
        Right now I feel like adressing both beloved Maghol and Clover at the same time in one reply…you both feel that capoeira has opened a previously closed door to a part of Swedish society…having trained with you two darlings for nearly a year now, may I take a wild guess and ask you both if perhaps the reason you can bond with these swedes (like myself, although I’m rather un-swedish in character) is because capoeira is NOT a Swedish thing? It’s Brazilian, with all the warmth and passion that comes along with that, so far from the coldness and shyness that Panda has experienced from other Swedes! That certainly is one of the many things I love about capoeira and Brazilian culture – I get to break the norms, I can shout and dance and sing my lungs out and in/around the roda THAT is perfectly natural!!
        And perhaps, just perhaps, the reason why you have gotten so many warm loving friends within our group in Västerås is because we are all attracted to those things, to letting go, allowing ourselves to be a little wild n’ crazy for a couple of hours, hugging, cuddling, supporting and loudly showing appreciation for the game and eachother?

        What do you think?

        • Clover says:

          Pintada,

          I think you are absoloutly right that the reason we are able to bond at capoeira is because it is NOT something Swedish. At a training we are ALL talking part in something a little alien, regardless of whether we do it in our home land or not. By entering into an activity which breaks the norms of Swedish culture you, and I, and everyone else, are taking risks with the ‘unknown’.

          As there is no ‘traditional’ capoeira culture in Sweden we are free to make our own. I am sure that if I had joined an inne-bandy team the group dynamics and social reprecussions would be quite different. But being such a mixed group (both in terms of gender and nationalities)we are able to create this close community. There is no macho-bullshit, no making allowances for girls and no separating teenagers from adults. We see eachother as equals regardless of our skill and knowledge. This makes it much easier to initiate physical contact (in my mind in any case!)

          However, I also believe our friendly atmosphere depends as much on our induvidual personalities as that we are doing something Brazilian… though perhaps we are attracted to capoeira because the music and movements (very Brazillian) encourage closeness in a way I can not imagine would occur if we are practicing a zen martial art. The emphasis is as much on fun as correctness. The lack of strict formality makes friendly bonding a lot easier.

          I think we are very lucky people!

      • Panda says:

        Hi dear Eurico!
        Well, it looks like it has already pushed Pintada and Clover forwards writing, though they would have done it anyway I think.
        About the integration in the Swedish society subject, for your information I should say that I am doing a master in Communication in Göteborg University just right now and so far the focus has been on interpersonal communication, one of the principles is that people communicate and get close to ones who have more things in common, more interests in common, more subjects to talk or discuss.
        And it is so different to have an obligatory course in the university or an extra evening activity in the cultural center in common.
        Swedes I met in some few courses that were offered to both international and Swedish students, had their passion outside university, they had maybe their friends from gym or place they worked part-time. But ones I meet at Capoeira are ones who have something for Capoeira which is a kind of passion for all of us.
        One of the points about Capoeira is that you can not just come and go every now and then, either you like it and you get it serious or you don’t like it and you quit. That has been my impression. Not being able to participate in the trainings because of family or work problems is completely another story.
        So there we have a group of people who like something very much and they have it in common.
        There are some factors here worth mentioning,
        1- trainer role:
        I agree with Clover, Obelix is fantastic, so has been other trainers so far I have met, it looks like they get more and more humble as they improve. I have always felt like, he is observing all at the same time, he has tips for each and every one of us. He remembers our challenges and motivates us towards it without any extra pressure and cheers up when we succeed. an example for better illustration is that I had problem going on my hands and whenever I was trying to do it at a corner of the class, he would never miss it and it was always like: “good Mahgol, almost, so close, come on try it again” and I felt like even I wanted to give up I couldn’t for there was some one hoping for my success. And during the event, Mestre Acordeon pointed at me and wanted to show some movement to all, asked me to go on my hands, I looked fast to Obelix, he looked a little bit nervous and then I just did it without any problem and I felt like I did not want to let him down and I could hear him: “Bra Mahgooool!” which means “Good Mahgol!” and it felt just fantastic. He has good helps, Baqueta, Coruja and Espiao and Crul. They are also nice, some times they take it so hard or too serious but still, the environment is good.
        2- belts hanging on the wall:
        We have the belts one can get in our group on the wall from green up to white and it just feels good to look at them. such a long promissing way to go.
        3- variety of participants:
        We have participants from different genders, age groups, nationalities and skill levels. It feels good to see how far one can improve by training hard when we look at those who are better and it feels good to see how long have we come so far by looking at those who just started. The best is when you see a friend can do something that he/she has been struggling with for a long time.
        and about the music and movement sincerity and purity. they are both so genuine.
        I am a silence person. I can not handle music for a long time. I never can have mp3 players while walking and working or have music on in my room while studying or cooking. I prefere silence. The thing is that, live music or some one singing is another story. I can listen to music played live or some one singing even with a bad voice for hours. It might go back to the fact that my family is religious and according to that it was not appriciated taht much to listen to music, they belived it mis-trains the ears from hearing the voices one can hear. Any way this is the way I am now. I get headache from electrical or multi instrumental music specially if it is loud BUT
        sitting in a batteri or standing in a roda, playing an instrument or just clapping and listening to it is completely different. It does not hurt any part of my ear, brain or soul. It just fits. The voice of people singing is just like the same wave of my body. And it is never the same as Capoeira music played on a CD player or mp3 player.
        The movements are also natural. It helps getting rid of thinking too much.
        It has come naturally to those who have been doing it at the first time maybe looking at animals or just trying to get the most out of their trained bodies. Every movement is to keep the balance, give access to reach the other person’s sensitive parts and protect your head. I have training pain almost after each and evry trainings and it shows how many muscles do we have that never get enough attention from us and never get used. My arms feel more confidant on teh floor and it feels good to be able to feel my “muscle body” so to say under the layers of fat and skin.
        I hope it has been relavant as Clover says and of help. Please let me know if any part needs to be more clarified or explained.
        Hug to you and all who read it
        Smiling Panda

        • Hi Panda,

          Thank you very much, once more! Great contributions.

          I’ll follow up Zarina’s advice and post some questions and suggestions so that more people can share their narratives as well.

          You provided a good material to approach the role of music in including people, something I might get back to you afterwards, ok?

          Take care!
          Axé!
          Eurico

  8. Pedra says:

    Oi Eurico..!

    I probably should be more clear about what I’m trying to say. it´s hard when you try to do it in english…

    I don’t know how it’s like in other places of the world. Here in south
    of Sweden, actually all of Sweden, i think, people are very “boxed in” in their
    behaviour. If You find something that you like you stick to it. I
    think curiocity is born in swedish people when you lack of interesting things in your
    invirement.
    Of course in a aula of capoeira you always meet new people from
    different backgrounds, and not always, but oftend they tend to have a
    inpackt on your life. training capoeira gives great ways to meet new
    friends , and learning more about people that you never would have
    meet in your ordinary daily life. Any new student has an inpackt on how the group works.. It’s
    uncontrollable and that is good..I think you identify with the group because you always want to be accepted and welcome. And if you don´t identify then you´ll go join another group instead.. i think this is natural.

    You are probably right about the Angoleiro-fellow. He moves around
    allot and has to play capoeira with diffrent groups, and this forces
    him to participate and learn more about capoeira from different angles.

    / até logo/ pedra

    • Hi Pedra,

      We were talking about how some people in Capeira can be narrow-minded towards the way others may practice it, and you mentioned that Swedish people tend to stick with whatever they like at first too… So you think in Sweden there might be a combination of factors leading people to adopt a radical attitude towards other peoples’ truth in Capoeira?

      I have a few questions further to your comment, if you could, please, give me more of your time:

      - How do you think this people with different backgrounds impact your life?

      - How Capoeira gives great ways to meet new
      friends? How do you explain that?

      - And also, in which ways “any new student has an impact on how the group works”? Can you explain this further?

      About your Angoleiro friend, what I meant was that been a member of a group shouldn’t prevent us to interact with others. So it’s good for him that he’s experiencing different things. But I also agree with you, we all want to feel accepted. I just hope we can work to improve our Capoeira communities values and believes, so that they don’t prevent us from having enriching interactions.

      Axé Pedra! Muito obrigado por sua contribuição.

  9. Clover says:

    Hej Eurico!

    I have just had a wonderful conversation with Mahgol (Panda) and earlier this evening enjoyed another great training session with her, Obelix and the rest of the gang in Västerås… so it seemed like a good time to add my tuppence worth.

    As a fellow foreigner in Sweden, me and Mahgol have a lot in common, and we are in strong agreement that through capoeira we have had the chance to bond with ‘riktiga svenskar’ in a way that the majority of incommers have not. The atmosphere surrounding our group is very special. I do not believe this unexpected boding with Swedes is dependant on the fact that we (unlike the majority of foreign students) have dared to partake in an extra carricular activity with the locals. I am also involved in a couple of community art projects here in Västerås. Despite common interests and the ubiquitous need for coffee breaks it has been unaccountably hard to build any kind of relationship with the people involved.

    I often ask myself why this is. Why is it that in one setting it proves next to impossible to integrate and in the next it feels as if we have been part of an extended family for years? The only conclusion I can come to is that when we arrive for training we leave more than just our shoes by the door. We also strip off a few layers of our day to day persona and dare to expose ourselves as the simple human beings that we are.

    Each of us is prepared to take the risk that we are going to make a complete fool out of ourselves… with an audience… which we usually do… But this kind of exposure brings us closer together.

    Of course we can practice endlessly infront of the mirror – like rehersing a speach. The moves are perfect, just like the exact emphasis on this, that, or the other word. It ensures that the point has been made. Prowess is confirmed. However, when we are thrown into the roda we are esentially naked. It is like taking up a debate with known speakers and unknown questions. There are no back-ups, no prompt with the next line. Naturally, research and practice makes things easier, but there is always a chance we will end up on our ass.

    Doing things that could potentially make us look silly is something most of us avoid! Trying to kick a man twice my size is certainly something I would never dare to do in the playground! Shaking my stuff and singing my heart out as I wait in line (to do acrobatics) is also something I would never contemplate in ‘civilian’ life – even at a night club after several drinks! I fall flat on my face, cry in frustration and blush profusely while trying to play pandero and sing at the same time. In short, I display my weaknesses. And, because we are all doing the same thing it never feels shameful, like victory or defeat.

    I think this is a very important factor in the naturally close atmosphere of our group. We trust eachother. It is not exactly “what happens in capoeira stays in capoeira” but looking like an idiot and knowing that no-one thinks less of you for it has a lot of positive affects! It is hard not to feel close to someone when you have sweated, tried, and high-fived.

    I think that Pedra also makes a very important point about new students and the way they affect the group dynamic. Being a reasonably small group it is clearly evident how our characters shape the mood of a training session. Yes, we all want to identify, it is why we stick arround. But we also all fill certain roles. There is the perfectionist, the hard-core, the joker, the musician, the acrobat, the new-be, etc etc etc. Each of us has strengths (along with the foolish looking weaknesses) and we are able to help eachother. You get what you give and you give what you get. There is no wrong, just ways to make it better.

    For me beginning to train capoeira was something of a departure from my comfort zone! I was an active child but during early puberty I developed some breast abnormalities and subsiquently required several surgeries. This, along with a turbulent family situation and a shock trauma, left me with low level depression and confidence somewhere just a little above non-existant. I left school at 17, worked dissatifying menial jobs and found myself in a very long and disaterous relationship.

    A little over a year ago I found myself in the happy situation where I was able change my life beyond recognition. I moved from the UK to Sweden on little more than a whim. I had enough money in the bank to last me two years and it seemed stupid not to take the chance! Having survived the first three months of WINTER (yes, it deserves capitals) with nothing in the way of social network I decided I was probably capable of doing anything I set my mind to… and set my mind to it.

    I began training capoeira, attending university and visiting a therapist (finally!!!) within a couple of weeks of eachother, this January. Who knows if I would have made such progress without one of those variables, but the change is extraordinary.

    I chose capoeira because it is essentially a non-contact game. After my hospital experiences and the ex-boyfriend I had a lot of problems with physical proximity. Capoeira allowed me to improve my fitness and mental condition while interacting with others but rarely having to breach the “contact makes me hugely uncomfortable” boundry. (Perhaps it would be interesting to look at the ways capoeira can help victims oftrauma and physical abuse one day). The therapist thought it was amazing! We often met in the afternoon before a training session and would talk through my emotional and physical difficulties relating to certain kinds of movements. I learnt how to push a little further, and how to say stop when I felt like things were getting beyond my controll. Valuable lessions which could have taken much longer to sink in had I not been working on body and mind similtaneously. My musical talents still leave a lot to be desired but I have discovered an ability for acrobatics and consiquently I have gained self-respect of the sort I used to only dream about.

    Call me an nhilist, but for me capoeira is not a lifestyle, a religeon or a philosophy. I adore the activity, and the company, but I do not feel the need to read the history or worship the ‘celbrities’ at this point. Capoeira has, however, been an invaluable tool. The confidence built and the social skills acquired have opened countless doors for me. Now I find it within my capability (moreover, a pleasure) to welcome newcomers and help make them feel at ease.

    I have also found the drive to follow Obelix’ example and start sharing my knoweldge (in areas I actually know something about!) with the rest of the community. During the summer I gave birth to a social drawing club (www.vscribbling.blogspot.com)which meets a couple of times a month and is open to everyone, regardless of skill or education. With funding from the local authorities, my improving Swedish and a truckload of capoeira related confidence I have been able to start giving something back to the community and help bring others into new social circles.

    So the effects of capoeira and it’s ability to include us socially (mentally disturbed foreigners and Swedes alike) are not just restricted to training and post training food enjoyment sessions! The effects capoeira can have on a person’s self-esteem and their resulting participation in the community is remarkable.

    Haha, and now it is nearly three am and well past my bedtime. It seems like there are a million more things to say, but I hope this has been relevant and of use to you!

    Clover

    • Hey Clover,

      Your contribution is far more valuable than you can imagine! Not a tuppence one, att all. Thanks a lot for sharing so much with all of us!

      If you don’t mind, here I go again.

      You chose capoeira because it is essentially a non-contact game, right? What can you tell me about the tactile behaviour common in Capoeira before and after classes? You know, those cuddles, kisses and warmth usually acknowledged as part of Brazilian culture and Capoeira.

      I know about some studies (in Portuguese) that covers therapeutic benefits in Capoeira practice (have been discussing this with Zarina), that I can indicate to you, if you want. As for my empirical experience running the social project Learning From Brazilian Culture in Brazil, I can tell you that the kindness and well intentioned cuddles and compliments before and after class amongst all of us, combined with discipline, mutual respect, and cultural activities (mostly Capoeira and Samba de Roda), amazingly helped them overcome contact intolerance. And most of them did came from extreme harsh backgrounds.

      About how you figure Capoeira in your life, this is not really up to me, but as far as ‘worshiping celebrities’ goes in Capoeira; the hell with that! This is part of the westernisation that has been happening with to the art. Though, if you ever feel the desire to engage with Capoeira teachings and/or social endeavours (as you did on one of your areas of expertise), it’s most likely that you’ll feel the need for knowledge in the historical and cultural backgrounds.

      Can you explain me further how Obelix’ work inspired you? How from Capoeira you got inspired to use arts in a community development endeavour?

      Thanks again!
      Axé!

      • Clover says:

        Hej again Eurico!

        Thanks for the reply, it is noce to know the late night writings are appreciated :)

        Ok, as for physical contact common in capoeira before and after trainings, it changes from day to day. Sometimes we have a lot of hugging and other days we make do with a high-five. It depends a lot on induvidual moods and also the people who are participating. Naturally, those who meet socially outside of capoeira, and those who have known eachother longer have a stronger physical connection.

        As a beginner it took some time before I was both comfortable with being hugged and I was considered a regular member of the group and someone TO be hugged (perhaps considered is the wrong word – but hugging strangers is not common in Sweden… and here you may still be thought of as a stranger after a years worth of socialising!) We have recently had a number of new students begin and the level of physical contact we have with them is significantly less than that with long-standing participants. However, as their confidence builds and our farmiliarity with ther personalitis increases so does our physical contact.

        There is a marked difference in the number of hugs we get from the girls and the guys though. I could say I am GUARENTEED at least one female hug before and after every session, but it is less common I would be hugged by a male member of the group (though high-fives are mandatory! :D)

        The level of this friendly physical contact also varies greatly depending on the style of class. When we practice acrobatics there is always a much higher level of physical contact. We take turns to repeat the same move all the way up our training room. We go two by two and then enter the back of the line on the opposite side. Because we get to watch eachother and then stand in close proximity the verbal encouragement, dancing and singing occurs spontaniously. These are the classes where most of us look most foolish, but also leave with the biggest smiles on our faces.

        As for the ‘celebrity’ statement, perhaps I could have phrased it a little better! I am certainly not disinterested in the history and culture of capoeira, it is just not my priority. There always seem to be a million and one things to do and something has to take a back seat. Possibly, if I continue to train for many years (as I hope to do) I will find the time to invest a in a little more research, though it is equally likely that some other project shall appear to eat my spare time!

        Last but not least – the Obelix effect. Jens is such an impressive teacher because he is is passionate, knowledgable and very responsive to the needs of induvidual students. What makes him such a great inspiration however, is that he chooses to share his passion with us. He is not someone who has studied to become a teacher, rather, he is someone who has become a teacher because it enables him to share something he considers to be wonderful. He has a natural talent and love for capoeira and consiquently is able to gently nudge people past their boundaries and do things they would never have previously dared.

        I, on the other hand, love to paint and draw. Since leaving highschool I have not had any formal art education but I have continued to practice and improve my skills because it feels good. I am by no means a master, but I believe that painting and drawing is a fantastically fun and therapeutic activity. When asked the majority of people say they would love to be able to paint or draw but it is seen to be some kind of mythical talent given only to the chosen few. Of course, there will always be those who excell, but this does not mean that the rest of us need give up!

        Unlike capoeira, art activities require both a location AND expensive materials. One of the biggest hindrances for the majority of people who would like to paint or draw is that they have to part with so much of their cash before they begin! Seeing Obelix at work made me believe it was worth my while attepmting to build up a group where I could provide the opportunity for people to try painting and drawing. It was not necessary to have a teacher’s education or business mind, just a love of the subject. I am able to impart my knowledge, encourage and help people socialise and relax while doing something they wouldn’t normally.

        Interestingly – like capoeira, there is substantial foreigner participation at Scribbling Society meetings. This helps to build a warm and cosy environment, but I imagine it shall take several years before I am able to help my ‘students’ with the same level of sensitivity as Jens!

        Again, I hope this has been relevant and helpful. If you have any more questions please fire away, it is a pleasure to write!

        Clover

        • Hi Clover,

          Thanks! And yes your contributions were relevant again.

          It’s interesting how Obelix’ approach to teaching has inspired you in doing something similar in your area. This is an issue we need to address more often – the role of Capoeira in our communities, and I hope to be posting something on it soon.

          Please, check other posts and see if they inspire you to some late-at-night writing again. ;)

          Take Care!
          Eurico

  10. Pedra says:

    Oi eurico… Very interesting…

    You said (Eurico): “So you think in Sweden there might be a combination of
    factors leading people to adopt a radical attitude towards other
    peoples’ truth in Capoeira?”

    Yes.. Well said. But is it different in other places of the world? How
    do you see this in all the different places you been teaching and
    training capoeira? Is there big diferences between groups and do they
    have problems communicating and exchanging information?

    Sure people change through interactions with each other.. But Its very
    hard to tell how people change.. I am very sure about that everything
    i experience i carry with me throughout life. But as an example..: I
    don’t know who I could be if I never started with capoeira. Maby I
    would have done somthing similar and developed totaly different? Maby
    there is a drive in people to explore and interact.. A curiosity to
    learn more all the time.. This makes us interact and to know more
    about each other builds a more understanding invirement and commond
    grounds.

    You said (Eurico): “How Capoeira gives great ways to meet new friends? How
    do you explain that?”
    I think capoeira is very personal. You can’t practice capoeira and
    have a great time if you don’t give a little bit of your self. To be
    able to give you need to go out of your comfortzone. This is esaly
    done through capoeira-music. If you start the capoeira aula with
    singing and playing the instruments, it’s like a warm up for the soul.
    Through this people greet eachother and music gives the feeling of
    Being a unit.
    Capoeira you create together.. And you are always having a dialog..
    This is good for getting to know each other..
    If you decide to go to arobics class instead you never have to
    interact with other people and never need to go out of your
    comfertzone.. In this kind of forum for workout it’s so much harder to
    make friends effortlesly like in capoeira were you haveto interact to
    create something.

    In my last comment I said that a new student has an impact on how the
    group works. This is more true if the group is smal.. If you have a
    large group with maby 30 students one more or less won’t change the
    course of the class..

    Thanks Eurico for your feedback on my comments.. They make me think in
    new ways..

    / pedra

    • Clover says:

      “I think capoeira is very personal. You can’t practice capoeira and
      have a great time if you don’t give a little bit of your self.”

      I think you say this perfectly Pedra!

    • Pedra,

      I’m glad that our discussions over here are influencing your thoughts. They do influence mine too, for sure.

      Good comments over the role of music and personal engagement, as Clover pointed out. Mapping what and how people establish more effective social relationships through Capoeira classes must partly guide the planing of our lessons, don’t you think?

      Abraços,
      Eurico

  11. Pingback: Capoeira Narratives: Share yours! « 4capoeirathoughts's Blog

  12. Z says:

    Hello everybody!

    Interesting to read this blog. Would be interesting, as Pedra mentioned, to know about the practice in other countries, too.

    I read somewhere in your blog, Eurico, about “corporation-like capoeira”. I think in some instances capoeira becomes instrumental rather than capoeira for the sake of capoeira. AND it’s not bad at all, because it should be both. But I think we all could strive more to have fun with capoeira. AND I know it is a process of learning to get rid of all thoughts and just be “here and now”. At some point one becomes too serious about capoeira (as myself) – but I think it’s also important to learn that capoeira should be serious, but fun at the same time.
    Nevertheless, I think it’s good to have a determination to come to a training to have FUN. I hope one day I will be able to switch the “FUN” button automatically :)

    P.S. I found out that there is a CDO group in India :)
    http://capoeiraindia.blogspot.com/

    • Zarina,

      The invitation is done for everyone. Please, lets spread the word out to all our Capoeira contacts and see if we can have these people sharing their experiences.

      Both the good and the bad experiences will help us to understand Capoeira as an educative and inclusive tool.

      Have a look a the ‘Capoeira Narrative: Share yours!’post. I shared some ideas on how we could share our experiences and ‘what for’ over there.

      Thanks for your tip on narratives! ;)

      Axé!
      Eurico

  13. Pedra says:

    Eurico said :”Mapping what and how people establish more effective social relationships through Capoeira classes must partly guide the planing of our lessons, don’t you think?”

    Good conclusion. I totally agree with you Eurico!

    I was thinking of another way of looking at how people see and take part of capoeira. To evaluate what impact my aulas of capoeira has on them and see how they influence each other.
    By asking all new students what they expect from capoeira and what there goals are with it before influencing them with new ideas. Then after some time of practice you do a feed-back and ask them again… Has their goal changed? Do they still practice capoeira? What do they expect from capoeira? How do they look at one another?

    / Pedra :)

    • Pedra,

      You’re becoming a really good teacher! This close contact with students and worry about why they keep in practice or leave is capital to run community oriented classes!

      Please, keep us updated about your actions and what you may find as well. Meanwhile, check my post on Capoeira Narratives, and see if you would like to share something.

      Abraço!
      Eurico

  14. Dan Harrison says:

    Eurico, Pedra, Panda & Clover – thank you for providing such an interesting discussion.

    I’m currently cycling from London to Cape Town and recently joined a Capoeira group in Damascus, Syria – http://www.CapoeirArab.com – their warmth and welcoming has been made this foreign land feel like home; a fine complement to the wonderful introduction to Capoeira I received from Mestre Ponciano of CDO in London – http://www.cdol.co.uk.

    The CapoeriArab group have made some remarkable contributions to local society here with a Free for Kids program, lessons at a local juvenile institution for girls, and at the Al-Tanf refugee camp. Too much to go into detail here; nor am I the person to do so. Nevertheless I wanted to share this with you.

    The work at the refugee camp in particular has been transformational – there is an article about it here on the UNICEF site:
    http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/syria_51283.html

    Work is under way to bring the benefits of this project to more displaced peoples – work I hope to be able to share with you very soon.

    With love in great appreciation of you all,

    Dan (Vagabundo)
    :)

    • Hey Vagabundo,

      Thank you for passing by, and sharing your experience with us. Sounds like you’re having a great time!

      I’ll post the Unicef article soon, it has interesting statements about the potentials of Capoeira as a social tool. Thanks for that.

      Now, there are a few things we could do to further promote this action.
      1. An interview with the project coordinators and Capoeira teachers;
      2. You could share your experience on ‘Capoeira Narratives’;
      3. And the blog could post a guest author on another article about this project (written by you or someone else involved with the project)

      I would be happy to promote this project, as well as learning more about your experience as Capoeira traveller.

      Axé!
      Eurico

  15. DonAna says:

    Hi everyone here,
    Without posting a huge thread, I just want to say I recognize a lot of what has been discussed here. Social inclusion, Physical and mental confidence etc. I have witnessed more than once that capoeira can bring out the best in someone. A shy person turning into the best cantor of the bateria, someone stiff doing brilliant makakos etc. What puzzles me though, is why do such shy and inactive people choose capoeira? There must be some inner longing… to belong???? To be “cool”, “fit”?
    Tnanks for this discussion, I’ve read it all! (and even recognized some names – from the event in Vasteras ;) )
    Axe,
    DonAna

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