How can I learn Capoeira better?
It is a question I get asked often from my students.
My reply is: How can you be a better student?
Today, Capoeira is literally practiced all over the world in over 100 countries. Why? I think because it is an art that is inclusive. It’s not an elite club. It’s an art that empowers ordinary people.
But that also means people from different background come to Capoeira with different expectations, ideas, and reasons. A parent who wants to enroll their kids because it looks fun and kids friendly. A fighter who wants to learn the deadly “meia-lua-de-compasso” kick he saw on the last UFC fight. An office lady who wants to try an exercise that’s not a kick boxing. A musician who wants to learn the “berimbau.” A loner who wants to make friends.
Capoeira has everything. Sometimes it’s a dance. Sometimes it’s a martial art. It’s a ritual. It’s a music. It’s a gathering. It’s not liner. It’s multi-dimensional.
But if you try to apply your biased idea on what Capoeira is, you are in for a bad surprise. It is often NOT what you think it is. In Capoeira, there will be a time to abandon your biased ideas on what you think it is, and accept and learn what it truly is. I have seen a lot of people quit Capoeira because “It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
You need to be humble. You need to be open-minded.
Capoeira has so many different aspects to learn that it takes a lifetime to be a master. Even when you train for years and years, you will always learn something new: you will always be a student no matter how long you train for or what color of belt you wrap your hip around. We are all students of life until the day we pass to the other side.
So how can we become a better Capoeira student?
One of our great friends and inspiring capoeiristas, Contra-Mestre Xara, who unfortunately passed away some years ago, left us with these tips for us. It is relevant today, and it will be for generations to come.
His tips are practical and also spiritual. When you substitute the word “capoeira” with “life”, you’ll be surprised to see how these tips can be relevant to your everyday life.
#1 Come prepared
It is good to wait at least two hours after eating before practicing. It is also not advised to attend training on an empty stomach. Hydration and nutrition are important throughout your day so you can function your best at Capoeira.
#2 Abandon the competitive mindset
In Capoeira you only compete with yourself. Respect in the Capoeira roda is mutual: if you wish to be respected, you need to give respect also.
#3 Everyone is talented
In Capoeira, everyone has different talents and limits; maybe you are not a good fighter but a great musician, singer, artist, dancer, etc… in time you will find your talent.
#4 Everyone learns at a different speed
Do not be surprised if a beginner learns as fast, or faster than you. What is important is NOT how long you have trained Capoeira, but the quality of training rather than the quantity.
#5 There is no secret to be a good capoeirista
If you give 110% every time you train, you are a good capoeirista.
#6 Express yourself at the right time
Don’t be afraid to express your opinions, ideas & concerns to your teacher but make sure you do it at the right time.
#7 Know when to train and when to socialize
A Capoeira group is also a group of friends, but know when it is time to practice and when it is time to hang. Pay attention when the instructor is explaining something.
#8 Belt represents your overall quality
Batizado and belt exchange is a celebration for all students. The belt represents each student’s experience, dedication, and strength. The students are evaluated on not only their physical abilities, but also on their frequency of class attendance, team work, discipline, behavior in class, events and rodas outside of class, and so much more.
#9 You represent yourself and your group
At an event outside of your group, it is important to gain new knowledge, exchange ideas, make new friends, and learn Capoeira. During social gatherings, you are responsible for your own actions – remember that the following morning, you need to be training in the class.
Not only you are a representative of your Capoeira group, but also your action reflects on you, your group and your teacher.
Also when traveling in group – gas fees will be divided equally.
#10 Treat others like how you want to be treated.
When you host someone from another city in your house during an event- remember that next time you may receive the same treatment when visiting their group. Always treat others like you want to be treated.
I hope these tips will help you on your journey to be a better capoeirista. Axé!