Archive for bay area capoeira

Masculinity and Capoeira (i.e. Why guys like to kick other guys in the face)

Posted in Capoeira nuggets with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by testcapo

Written by Alex Kane
martialarts_capoeira

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.)

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I Encontro Internacional da A.C.A.P.O.E.I.R.A

Posted in Photos, Updates! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by testcapo

Immediately after our batizado,  Mestre Preguiça, Mestre Di Mola, Prof. Indio and Prof. Baiano jumped on the plane to go to Vitoria, Brazil to Mestre Capixaba’s (A.C.A.P.O.E.I.R.A) international encounter. Tons of capoeiristas made it out to this event to not only play capoeira with some of the top mestres and professors but also to celebrate Mestre Preguiça’s 50 years of capoeira. This year Mestre Capixaba made the celebration of his 50 years a centerpiece of the event. Congratulations Mestre!

Thanks to Prof. Indio we have pics and video footage of the event. You can check out his website at http://guanabara.ca/ for more information on his school in Canada. Thanks Prof. Indio!

What a Week!!

Posted in Photos, Updates! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2009 by testcapo

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We just had 4 full days of incredible workshops and batizado. What a week! Mestre Di Mola, Prof. Baiano and Prof. Indio came in for the event and added amazing energy to the event. Prof. Baiano conducted incredible music classes, we had an open roda on 24th and Mission and played a ton of capoeira!

But they weren’t the only ones to come visit us in SF! We had students from every single one of our chapters in the US and Canada join us. Chicago, NYC, LA, Seattle, Madison, Amherst, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and even Sweden. It was such a great event. But let the pics tell the story….

Here are photos from the batizado.

Omulu Capoeira Guanabara Batizado-San Francisco

Posted in Updates! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by testcapo

Our batizado is right around the corner. Here are the details:

Wednesday, August 19th

  • 4:00-5:15 Music Workshop ($10) @ Aceituno Arts, 2141 Mission Street, San Francisco 94110 (Mission District)
  • 6:30-10:00 Capoeira Workshops @ Harvey Milk Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, 94117 (Castro)

Thursday, August 20th

  • 4:30-5:30 Open Roda @ 24th st.and Mission st., 94110
  • 6:30-10:00 Capoeira Workshops @ Harvey Milk Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, 94117 (Lower Haight)

Friday, August 21st

  • 4:00-5:15 Music Workshop ($10) @ Aceituno Arts, 2141 Mission Street, San Francisco 94110 (Mission District)
  • 6:30-10:00 Capoeira Workshops @ Harvey Milk Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, 94117 (Lower Haight)
  • 11:00-1:00 am Celebration for Mestre’s 50 years of capoeira @ Aceituno Arts 2141 Mission Street, San Francisco 94110

Saturday, August 22nd (Batizado)

  • 10:30 am-3:30 pm San Francisco Batizado @ Harvey Milk Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, 94117
  • 10:00 pm-2:00 am Party at Pena Pacha Mama with Fogo na Roupa (Carlos Aceituno’s Brazilian Bateria) $10 at the door

***Individual workshops are $30. Each day there are 2 workshops. The first workshop is 6:30-8:00 and the second is 8:30-10:00. (if you plan on attending only the second workshop please get there at 8:00 to warm-up). Batizado without the package costs $60.

Getting to San Francisco from SFO or Oakland

For those of you flying in from out of town it is really easy to get to the city from the airport. The BART (The Bay Area subway system) has a stop at the airport and you can take that into the city. Go to this website for further info http://tripplanner.transit.511.org/mtc/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=en. This website works for both SFO and Oakland. This website will also give you the routes for the MUNI (the san francisco bus system).

Housing

As for housing, we are working that out right now. Once we get everything settled which should be within this week, we will have your hosts contact you.

San Francisco Resources

Also, for those of you out-of-towners, there are a lot of things to do in the Bay Area. Here are some websites that you can check out that will give you some good places to check out.

http://www.sfstation.com/ (General san francisco guide)

www.yelp.com (Great website that will give you great restaurant and shopping recommendations)

http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/

We look forward to this years batizado!

Instructor photo from lasts years SF batizado (2008)

Instructor photo from lasts years SF batizado (2008)

The (soon to be) annual RODATHON!

Posted in Photos, Updates! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by testcapo

Yesterday we hosted our first annual RODATHON.  This open roda was a fundraiser for our batizado that is coming up in two weeks. The roda was held at Dolores Park in San Francisco on an unusually sunny day.  What can I say? It was a huge success! We had an amazing number of capoeirstas that came from all over the Bay Area to support. The energy was solid, music on point and, yes, we raised a lot of money!  Berimbaus were given out to the capoeiristas that raised the most money. In the beginning we were only going to give out one to the top student but we had three students that did such an amazing job that we had to give out 3 berimbaus!

Congratulations to our top fundraisers!

First Place: Rebecca Calisi  Second Place: Todor Tzolov  Third Place: Laurette Garcia

A big thanks to everyone in coming together in this fundraising effort. This is proof that grassroots fundraising is as strong as ever!

If you are interested in participating or watching Omulu Capoeira Guanabara’s batizado go to http://www.omulu.org for more info.

3rd Tour of Duty: Brazil

Posted in Capoeira nuggets, Updates! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2009 by testcapo

A few months ago, Mestre Di Mola asked me to join him in Rio in the recording of Omulu Guanabara Capoeira’s 4th album. In all honesty, at first I wasn’t going to go. I have been to Brazil a couple of times and wanted to ideally wait another year before my 3rd return. I spent a lot of 2008 traveling within the US and abroad and I was looking forward to spending a summer of total relaxation. BUT, I checked ticket prices and it happened to be the one week of the Swine Flu scare and airline prices were LOW. Tickets to Rio were $550.

I had no excuses. I was going to Rio. It will be my 3rd tour of duty.

Palhaço was in summer school and he couldn’t miss any classes without getting kicked out so he had to stay home. I called up a couple of my girlfriends (also capoeira students) and in 24 hours we had our tickets.

Angela (Manga Rosa), Vicki (Sabeginha) and Me (Andorinha)

Angela (Manga Rosa), Vicki (Sabeginha) and Me (Andorinha)

So we were on our way to Brazil.

I was given no information about recording times, possible songs I was singing, or training times or locations. I had no information other than Professor Baiano’s phone number. That’s it. Hopefully he picks up…..

We finally got in touch with Baiano and were told to meet him at Cosme Velho to train a little bit with Mestre Preguica and Mestre Di Mola. As we get there we are greeted by all of the capoeira instructors from around Brazil. No students, just Instructors and Professors. And so it begins.

The training was excellent and as a capoeira teacher, it is rare to get to train with a group of fellow capoeira instructors. It was invigorating to challenge and to be challenged.

But I digress, This blog entry is about the music, let’s refocus on recording this CD.

A bunch of capoeira kids that joined us after training.

A bunch of capoeira kids that joined us after training.

After training, we head out to Barra Tijuca which is where the recording studio is located. It took us about an hour to get there. We were sweaty and hungry from training and seeing that we would only get started at about 10pm, it looked like it was going to be a long night.

…….And it was.An awesome night but one that kept us going until 5:30 int he morning. We recorded throughout the evening. Excellent songs, on point bateria, perfect. However, I still didn’t have the song that I was going to sing. Mestre Di Mola spoke of this ‘song’ throughout the evening but I still have yet to see anything. I was getting nervous but I have to have faith so I waited.

Finally around 2am I get the song. Baiano sings the lyrics and melody with me. For those that have heard any of  Omulu Capoeira Guanabara’s CDs you will recognize baiano’s voice immediately. He has a voice that stands apart from the capoeira crowd, it is incredibly operatic. One can easily consider him a prodigy. Simply said, he’s got vocals. As Baiano goes through the melody with me, I start to see that he is a stickler with details. He is a perfectionist and was not going to let me slide for a second. I get nervous. We decided that rehearsing at 3 in the morning was not going to get me anywhere. We finally finish at 5:30 am and it is at this point that I am reminded that I am not as young as I used to be.

Recording the 4th CD

Recording the 4th CD

Next day, I holed myself in my apartment in Ipanema. I practiced the song throughout the day. Later on I met up with Baiano and Indio. We hung out at Ipanema Beach and I, of course, continued to practice and sing. I had very little time to make this song not only sound good but also my own.

We met the next day to record. This time we met a little bit earlier because we needed to be finished in time to get to Lapa for the roda. This means that I cannot mess up because I will NOT be the one making Mestre DiMola late to his Lapa roda. We go through all of the songs and I was the last to go. I was ready.

A shot of cachaça settled some of my nerves and I was felling confident. Let’s do this thing.

BUT then Mestre DiMola flipped the script. He wanted Baiano and I to do a duet. Wait. What?? That is like trying to hang with Mariah Carey. So, ladies and gentlemen, it was time for my ‘A’ game. Take no prisoners. Let’s unleash the dogs.

It it turned into an experience that I will always remember. Signing with Professor Baiano forced me to push myself out of any comfort zone. He has got crazy vocals and an ability turn any melody into something that is absolutley poetic. It was truly a humbling experience but also one where I know that I let there be no boundaries on my own voice. It was then that I realized that I hold back quite a bit when I sing in the roda and I am not sure why. Singing with Baiano gave me license to unleash my own true ability.

The contributors of the 4th CD

The contributors of the 4th CD

And that is priceless.

Sometimes I wonder why I stayed with capoeira for such a long time. Sometimes I fell like capoeira is the boyfriend that I can’t break up with even though he can sometimes give me a huge headache. But then I am reminded. Capoeira brings me gifts. All the time. It brings me training with world classes mestres, recording CD’s, staying up till all hours of the morning with fellows capoeirstas signing capoeira songs and drinking chopp, dancing samba and pagode, and, of course, roda’s in Lapa.

Muito Obrigada, Meus Mestres, Rio, e capoeira!

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Don’t get kicked in the face and other tips for beginners

Posted in Capoeira Etiquette, Capoeira nuggets with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2009 by testcapo

by Trevor Gregg (Trovão)

Trovão, a veteran capoeirista, good friend and excellent writer, has come up with an excellent assortment of tips and advice for beginners. This is a must read for all capoeira beginners (especially with batizado on the horizon).

Batizado season is upon us.  Panicked and eager, beginners are crowding our rodas and academies.  Slightly off-beat clapping and mispronounced, mumbled lyrics ring in the air.  Gearing up for our own batizado, our instructors have been teaching a series of fundamentals workshops just to get the white-belts ready for their big day.  Aww, look at them doing their little cartwheels.  They grow up so fast!

Seeing beginners struggle, train, and play brings back vivid memories of my own long and difficult initiation in capoeira.  Making mistakes, and hopefully learning from them, is every initiate’s burden to bear.  I consider myself somewhat of an authority on beginner mistakes, not because I have any sort of talent or ability but rather because I’ve made nearly every mistake possible.  Many of them several times over.

A few things I’ve been taught, then, to help the next generation survive the coming months.

1)  When in doubt, do what the higher belts do.

Capoeira has few ‘rules’ per se, but makes up for it with a staggering amount of traditions, manners, customs, and obscure points of etiquette.  There are far too many subtle but important tenets to learn early on in one’s capoeira career, and there is certainly no definitive list of them.  What few customs are explicitly told to you as a beginner are but the smallest pile of snowflakes atop the massive iceberg.  The poor man’s solution, then, is to watch how the veteran capoeiristas behave, especially towards their ‘betters’.  Watch the way your instructor enters a roda when playing a mestre.  How do they buy in?  Do they show straight kicks, rasteiras? (Hint: no.)  Do they stop the game?  Throw palmas and elbows?  (Hint: No also.)  Pick a couple of high cords, pay close attention to them, and if they aren’t getting yelled at or kicked by the mestres chances are whatever they’re doing is ‘right’ and can be safely emulated.

2)  Escape, don’t flinch.

There will come a day when your instincts, sharpened by years of intense training and abuse, will serve you so well that a solid escape will be a completely natural response to any assault.  Whether it’s kicks in the roda, fly balls at the baseball game, water balloons, wild pumas, whatever, you’ll be such an excellent capoeirista that you’ll esquiva any and all attacks with grace and dexterity.  That day is probably not today.  Thus, you must make a direct and conscious effort not to just flail away from kicks and takedowns.  When another player comes at you, even if you’re surprised, do not flinch or flop around on the ground.  Swatting the air like you’re battling bees is not proper technique.  Instead, evade carefully and discriminantly, like you’ve been taught.  Choose an esquiva from your repertoire and execute it.  Did you do it perfectly? Maybe.  Probably not.  But any esquiva you can walk away from is a good one.

3)  Make your kicks count.

Every kick you throw opens you up to a variety of counterattacks, sweeps, and takedowns.  To minimize this inherent vulnerability, make your kicks matter.  Many capoeiristas, particularly beginners, have a tendency to kick too often and with too little intent.  Setting aside technique, the two essential considerations in an effective kick are distance and aim.  You can throw a textbook perfect armada, the kind of beautiful movement that brings a tear to your mestre’s eye, but if you do it when you’re fifteen feet away from your opponent it’s completely wasted.  At best it’s a pointless and energy-wasting decoration.  At worst it’s an opportunity for your opponent to pull out your support leg and ruin your evening.  A kick that’s properly distanced, however, forces the recipient to escape before doing anything, including kicking you back.  Whether you’re playing a beginner or a veteran, it’s guaranteed that your opponent’s priorities will be as follows:

1) Get to safety
2) RETALIATE

If they can skip number 1, it leaves them all the more time to work on number 2.

The second factor in an effective kick is intent.  Beginners are often overly sympathetic, which results in various sloppy habits: pulled kicks, ludicrously slow or stalled movements, and awkward roda apologies.  Forget all that.  Aim your kicks.  Strike to hit.  If you throw a clean, effective kick and your opponent doesn’t avoid it, that’s their fault, not yours.  Don’t mistake my meaning: intent is not the same thing as anger.  A kick can have intent and be still be controlled, courteous, even friendly.  I’m not suggesting you dive into the roda with murder in your heart, ready to lay waste to all comers and make a trophy necklace with their ears.  That’s low-class.  Simply make sure your opponent understands that there is a penalty, however slight, associated with not avoiding your attacks.

In the long run, effective kicks are just as important to your safety as good esquivas.  When you’re training, or playing with your friends, often times people will escape from your kicks even when it’s not necessary.  Don’t rely on this; you will come across people who only dodge when necessary, people who will take every advantage of your crappy kicks.  Getting the courtesy dodge from your opponent should be just as embarrassing as getting the courtesy laugh after telling a bland joke.

Don’t be that person that expects the courtesy laugh, or the courtesy esquiva.  He/she has no friends and is shunned at parties.

4)  Whatever happens in the roda, don’t stop.

Every beginner goes deer-in-the-headlights at some point.  Capoeira has a steep learning curve, and beginners lack both the vocabulary of moves and the understanding of the game to deal with every situation.  That being said, it’s always better to do something than nothing.  If you’re not sure how to react to what the other player is doing, just do what you know.  Ginga, au, kick, whatever.  However awkward and silly the thing you’re doing seems, it’s quite a bit better than just standing there.  Holding still gives your opponent an open invitation to force you to move, either by making you escape an attack or by pushing you out of the roda so they can interact with someone less catatonic.  Everyone, regardless of level, will encounter situations in the roda for which they’re not prepared.  It happens to me often: my opponent will be doing some crazy no-handed physics-defying backflippy thing that is entirely impossible to respond to and I’m left completely at a loss.  Still, I force myself to do something, ginga, floreo, handstands, whatever.  Waiting like a bump on a log, however, is not a viable option.

This point is especially applicable after a takedown.  Remember that a successful rasteira or vengativa is not always the end of the game.  If you’re a low cord, it’s best to let your opponent decide when or if to reset the game.  If you’re swept, do not lie prone and expect the other player to give you time to recover.  Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t.  There are players who are as likely to jump on you as give you a hand up.  So get back up, post haste.  Laying flat with a smile on one’s face or giving your opponent a thumb’s up is not a valid defensive posture.  Role away, keep your hands up, and do whatever you have to to regain your composure and continue the game.

5)  Stop looking at the ground.  Seriously.

The ground will not kick you, but the same cannot be said of the person you’re playing.  Watch them instead.  Recognize that your desire to look at the floor is like a toddler’s security blanket; it might make you feel better, but is of no practical use when you’re in danger.  The sooner you learn to live without it the better.  Don’t be that weird kid in fifth grade who still can’t leave the house without his binkie.

6)  Enjoy yourself.

You’ll reach an important milestone, a day when the enjoyment you get out of capoeira finally eclipses the sheer terror you feel when entering the roda.  This more than any other achievement will help you on your way to greatness.  You’ll quickly find yourself more relaxed, more creative, and more inspired to play.  It is a game, after all, and you’ll play better when you’re having a good time.  The more you play, the more comfortable you’ll get in the roda.

So go play.