Masculinity and Capoeira (i.e. Why guys like to kick other guys in the face)
Written by Alex Kane
I’m a pretty passive guy, but for some reason, I kind of like kicking people. And I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve tried to ignore that weird little beef-steak section of my brain that gets thrills from battle. But for the past six months, capoiera has been bringing kicks-to-the-head to my cerebellum.
Without delving too deep into evolutionary psychology, I’m going to take Barry McCarthy’s stance that my testicle-intertwined “warrior” brain has grown to actually flourish in combat. My older brother might claim some credit for kicking my ass before dinner every night growing up, and the aggression-flooded media of my childhood gets a shout out. However, I’ll still throw my cord around my genes as the main culprit of my machoism.
I’m slowly accepting.
I leave capoeira class in pain.
My feet sting.
My thighs ache.
Some part of me is bruised and swelling. And all I can think about was that rush of ducking away from a flying heel and preparing to aim my next armada at Palhaço’s head. My mind mourns from relishing the violence that I philosophically disdain, but my ancestral warrior says, “Don’t be a PUNK! You were BORN to dodge kicks! Just shut up and enjoy it.”
And I do.
P.S. Although I feel like this issue is due more of the 100-page, graduate-thesis type explanations that it has received in psychology journals, my wife summed it all up as “you are guy” when I told her what I was writing about. I’ve tried to balance those two extremes of length. One crucial detail I’ve definitely left out though: we have chicas playing capoeira every week too, and I can attest to the fact that their genes are just as messed up as mine.
(in Archer, John’s Male Violence, 1994.)