Archive for April, 2008

Music Workshop and First Roda of the Month

Posted in Updates! with tags , , on April 30, 2008 by testcapo

Just a friendly reminder that we will be having the first roda of the month and a music workshop at mestre’s class this Friday, May 2nd. The class takes place at the Glen Park Rec center and will be from 6:30-9:00. This is yet another great opportunity to practice that berimbau. I hope to see everyone there!

For more info go to

Capoeira Etiquette #4- The Angola Roda

Posted in Capoeira Etiquette with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2008 by testcapo
I pulled this off of another blog. This was written by an Angoleiro and is really great advice for all of us non-Angloeiros in interacting in an Angola roda. Many of you know that Angola rules are very different than ours. Here is the link to the actual posting. There is a lot of great info on this site that you will find helpful to learning more about the different aspects of capoeira. Check it out!

This might be of high interest for all of you people who want to try playing Capoeira Angola in a Roda de Capoeira Angola. The reason I start this topic is because I have seen a couple of people who usually train Capoeira Contemporeana and then end up being very frustrated in a Capoeira Angola roda.

The first reason for this is quite obvious. You are a stranger in the group and have a different style, which usually leads to “mis-communication” in play. Even if you take care of all the subtle things you have to do when you show up in a new group (introducing yourself to the trainer of the group, sticking to the movements the trainer does show, dont put yourself into the first row while training and so on….), you will have problems orienting yourself in a Capoeira Angola roda.

I´ll just name the mistakes (in random order…)

Buying the game

Buying the game is far less common in Capoeira Angola rodas than in rodas of modern Capoeira. Usually the person being in charge of the roda (if you dont know it, a hint: it might be the guy with the gunga) does tell when a play starts and when it ends. You can “choose” your favorite game in positioning yourself in the circle of people, because usually the ones being closest to the batteria will play the next game, succeeded by those who are next in line. Do never attempt to buy a game without the headhoncho saying this explicitly.

Entering the Roda with an Aú

Actually it is not forbidden to start the game with an Aú. In some Contemporeana groups it is oligatory to do this. It definitely puts the two players directly into the middle of the Roda. But in a Capoeira Angola roda you start quite close to each other. If you start with an Aú mean players won´t insist giving you a straight Cabecada. And there is another reason for this. A good Capoeira Angola play does live from its development. You start being close, slow, almost ritualistic. In a Jogo de Dentro which takes a minute or two. And as you approach the middle of the roda, the players get more apart from each other. The game gets faster, higher and sometimes rougher (of course everything depends on the players, their experience, mood, relationship and maybe on daily constellations of the stars). In jumping into the Aú in the beginning you skip all the steps in between.

Fast start

If you are “lucky” and are chosen to play the first game, wait. Dont start playing when the music starts. This is actually common in every roda, but in Capoeira Angola rodas you always have the introducing songs (Ladainha and Saudacao) where you wait and stay sitting in front of the berimbaus. And even when they start singing the common capoeira songs (corridos), wait until the person in charge gives you a signal.

Hit the air

A capoeira angola game is usually played with the partners being close to each other. If you are in a certain distance and just do kicks into the air somewhere between you and your partner, it is disregarded as boring play or at least unneccessary play. This could result in the other player making jokes about you, while you are playing. Very embarrassing.

The Open Aú

This is an obvious issue. Don´t do Aús where your upper body is totally exposed. The Angoleiro in front of you will come to the idea that that´s a perfect target for a head-butt! In this case players of modern Capoeira must concentrate on doing a “close” Aú, having their knees and feet close to the torso, not stretched out. I know you can do it ;)

Taking the teasings serious

This is actually a problem EVERYbody encounters in an Angoleiro roda. In the game of Angola there is a lot of teasing the other. This can be in a theatrical and nicer way (e.g. when I did a flashy movement which was completely unneccessary, the mestre I was playing with stood in the roda and was mimicking a photographer) or in a less nice way (e.g. sitting at the bateria and your opponent turns to the bateria, sings with his whole voice, spreads his arms, and hits your head with the back of his hand). That’s part of the mailicia, that’s part of the game. Yeah, of course he is teasing YOU, but still it is nothing personal. It is as personal as a Meia Lua you couldnt dodge. Of course you have the full right to tease back or to revenge this with other actions in the roda. But if you take it personal and (in the worst case) apply a direct into-the-face kick just because he was teasing you, then it will be considered poor/brute/un-intelligent game of you. But if you take the teasings, repay them in a similar, or other but more creative way, then everybody will consider your play being smart!

Mistakes in the Chamada

A chamada

Actually the Chamada is a story of its own and I even now feel the need to explain it excessiveley. In short. A chamada is a very ritualistic part of the Capoeira Angola game. It exists for seceral reasons:

1. calm down the game when it got a little bit too rough

2. as a small pauze in between (as Angola games can take long sometimes you really need a second or two)

3. as a time for recovery when you just got a bad hit and now want to get back into the game

4. as stylistic intermezzo in the game.

5. as a test (how far you know about the ritual and the malicia of the Angola game)

The fifth reason is important in this case. The Chamada, with all it’s ritual and all it’s peaceful behaviour, is still part of the Capoeira game. And as everybody (who plays Capoeira) knows, hits and kicks are not forbidden as long as you are in the roda. So even while you are “dancing” in the chamada the other person might want to find out if your attention is all there. Of course, it’s good to know how to answer to a chamada. there are different chamadas. That means you should learn all of them. If you dont know a certain chamada, do not hesitate to show your uncertainity. Be very careful approaching a chamada. And – and this one is reaaally important: a chamada is a call. It is, as I said, also a kind of a test. So if you are playing with a Mestre, don’t call him into a chamada. Not all Mestres are sensitive about that. But there are some which are. And why? Well, who does give YOU the right to call a Mestre into a small test?

I think I forgot some things, but this is at least a good guideline. Feel free to add things or argue about one or other.

P.S. not all points are equally important. And the importance of some things are changing from group to group. The possible pitfalls I have given are those I have seen personally.

An Interview with Mestre Preguiça

Posted in Capoeira nuggets with tags , , , , on April 29, 2008 by testcapo

CHECK IT OUT! This is an interview with Mestre Preguiça. Definitely an important read.

Interview with Mestre Preguiça

Source: Revista Capoeira
Translated into English by Shayna McHugh

Mestre PreguicaWaldenkolk Oliveira, known as mestre Preguiça, was born in Sítio do Mato in Bahia, Brazil. It was June of 1947. His mother died when he was only seven years old, and he was left alone to face the world about which he knew so little. Three years later he was in Salvador, living on the streets, sleeping under bridges along with other street kids. In the constant search for a direction that he could follow in life, he would spend time in the poor neighborhoods of the Bahian capital, like Calçadas and Ribeira. That was where he met Gilson Capoeira of the Periperí neighborhood in 1959, who taught him his first Capoeira moves and brought him to Mestre Bimba’s academy. The powerful mestre then taught him the rules of discipline and respect that Waldenkolk longed for.

How was your first contact with Mestre Bimba? Do you remember much?

When we entered the building, the students were training in a small room on the second floor of the Academy. Mestre Bimba rested on a bed in a side room. He was seated in silence, and his eyes observed each detail. Since that moment when I saw him for the first time, I felt that that man was a great and powerful mentor who didn’t need a weapon to defend himself. I was attracted by the power of the martial art and by the spirituality that I felt in the atmosphere. I knew then that Capoeira would be an important part of my life.

Were you soon accepted as a student?

When I told the mestre that I wanted to train, he mumbled and told me to do a ‘queda de rins.’ Although I fell over, he still invited me to join the class. I trained there until graduating from Mestre Bimba’s Academy.

What was the graduation ceremony like?

The graduates gathered in Mestre Bimba’s house for the ceremony. We all wore white pants and shirts and shoes, as was the tradition. That way, if our bodies touched the ground during the game, the dirt would show. Each graduate received a blue belt and a small silver metal with an engraved figure of a capoeirista. Afterwards there was a big party, with all the capoeiristas and their friends.

And why is your nickname Preguiça (lazy/sloth)?

The control, strength, and flexibility of Bimba’s students scared me a lot and I used hide behind the bench, afraid to participate. I was always one of the last to enter the roda, because of a little bit of fear and also caution. This slowness led the mestre to give me the nickname Preguiça.

Did your participation in Bahia’s folkloric performing groups help you go to Rio de Janeiro?

Yes. After I graduated around 1965, I went to Rio with the group Vem Camará.

Talk a little bit about your experience in Rio.

In 1968 and 1969 I was crowned national champion of the Golden Berimbau competition. Since I was champion in three consecutive years, I won the Golden Berimbau trophy, which was the biggest Capoeira prize at the time. The following year, I prepared two of my best students, Mosquito and Borracha, to go to the same event and I was entitled the Best Coach of Brazil, for my success as a teacher. To further develop my professional skills, I studied physical education at the university. This university was the first to offer a Capoeira course, and I was the professor.

And your experience in Europe?

I went to Europe as part of the Brazilian Ballet Show and I spread the practice of Capoeira in almost all the countries there. When I returned, I continued giving classes with Senzala, while I finished my degree. In 1976 I went to Austria to do a specialized Physical Education course, and I also taught Capoeira. Upon my return, besides my normal classes, I performed Capoeira in shows, theaters, nightclubs, and on TV. I ended up forming two groups: Mucuiu nu Zambi and Ganga Zumba. I also did a performance on Fantástico [a very famous Brazilian TV show], playing the role of Madame Satã.

How was your experience in the United States?

I didn’t speak English, but I liked the challenge of teaching Capoeira in another language. I began by writing the words “right” and “left” on my hands, which helped me give instructions to the students. After a year, I had already developed a strong base of study.

Capoeira Etiquette #3

Posted in Capoeira Etiquette with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2008 by testcapo

Here is a quick rule:

Capoeira, like a lot of martial arts, works in a hierarchy. We have our cord system which helps establish beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Each level is required to have a certain amount of skill and knowledge in the art. This hierarchy also helps classes run smoothly. For example, the highest cords help the instructor give examples of movements and sequences. The highest cords are also in the front rows so the lower cords can follow their movements. A common mistake made is when lower cords cut in front of higher cords during exercises. Unless otherwise stated, this is usually a ‘no-no.’ This mistake is made typically because those students aren’t aware of the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) rule. If you are new to a class or considered a lower cord, make sure to go behind the higher cords.

**Note: As everything in the capoeira etiquette series, this is a general rule. There will be times when the instructor wants the lower cords in front or when higher cords need to go to the back of class due to injuries or if they arrived to class late.

Practice the berimbau!!!

Posted in Updates! with tags , , , on April 27, 2008 by testcapo

We had a great brunch and berimbau session this past Saturday! We ate some eggs, practiced some berimbau and hopefully some were able to leave saying that they learned a thing or two. Now is this time for the real learning. It is important to not let your berimbau collect dust in the corner of your room. Make a point to practice playing it a few times a week. It is important to build up those hand muscles so you can get used to holding and playing the berimbau. Pretty soon we will start to call out people to play the berimbau in the roda so you better be prepared!!!

Brunch and berimbaus

Brunch and Berimbaus #2

Posted in Updates! with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2008 by testcapo

We will be doing brunch and berimbaus this Saturday, April 26th from 10:30-12:30 at our house.  We will be starting on time and will only go for those two hours so please make sure that you are on time. I will be making some eggs and other breakfast things but please feel free to bring something to contribute like juice, coffee, pastries, etc. We will also be asking for a donation of $10. Again, this money will be going towards class equipment. Also bring your instruments so you can get some good practice in.