Capoeira O Teatro Da Vida
My capoeira teacher always says that capoeira is in his skin and that he can’t just put it on like a uniform when he goes to class, then take it off afterwards. When I first heard this I wasn’t sure what he meant by it. But then I heard his teacher repeat it. I then understood where my teacher had got this slightly bizarre mentality from and kind of knew what it was about. But it was not until three and half years into my capoeira journey; when I left quaint little Wallingford for the grand promises of university life in the city of Southampton, that I truly experienced the capoeira-skin mentality firsthand.
For the first month of uni I found myself far too busy with the workload that comes with a physics degree and the social pressures of being a ‘fresher’, to actually find capoeira in Southampton or make the 2 hour trip back to Wallingford and train with my group. After this hiatus from capoeira I noticed the standard loss of flexibility, strength and fitness that I had expected; but there was something else as well. It felt as though I had lost something more fundamental. I had neglected an important part of my life. Just as we all take for granted that our skin will always be there, I had assumed that I would always have capoeira in my life. But if you don not look after your skin it weakens and can become very ugly. I experienced the horrible realisation that my capoeira would have certainly weakened, but also that there was a chance my capoeira had become ‘ugly’. It was in this moment of vanity that I understood even more what my teacher and his Mestre had meant.
Not only is capoeira an important part of their entities, which they need in their lives, but it is also a physical representation of themselves. Other capoeiristas, other artists, other dancers, even just arbitrary observers will make judgements about them based on the ‘beauty’ of their capoeira. They are judged by how expressive they are in the dance, by how tactful they are in the game, by how purposeful they are in the fight and by how passionately they combine all of these aspects into fluid, coherent movements. The same is true for any practitioner of capoeira. Myself included. We all show ourselves in our capoeira, just as we are recognizable by our faces. We all carry capoeira in our skin, but our commitment and passion for the art is what determines how deeply it becomes ingrained in our being and this is what distinguishes between each individual capoeirista. The depths of capoeira that they are willing to strive for and the path on which they walk through capoeira. These are perhaps the most significant components of our ‘capoeira signatures’. At least they are to this aluno de capoeira.
Often it takes an absence from something we take for granted before we can truly appreciate how important it is to us and the impact that it has had on our lives. As Mestre Poncianinho once said:
“Absence is to love, what wind is to fire. It extinguishes the small, but kindles the great”
My brief absence from capoeira definitely kindled my love for this amazing art.