Teaching capoeira to ten-year olds
// March 11th, 2011 // thoughts
I noticed that when I’m practicing my capoeira moves, sometimes a little bunch of kids gathers around. They didn’t say much at first, just watched. Three boys and a girl, all around ten years old. They started to ask me about capoeira. I was a bit self conscious about singing them any capoeira songs so the explanations I gave weren’t great.
After a bit, the girl asked me to show her how to do a move. I think it was a martelo. A little too difficult for you, I told her, but if you want to start with something more basic…
I taught her to do ginga, pointiera (a high kick) and mei luna de frente (‘half-moon; to the front, a sweeping, kicking cartwheel spin.)
She seemed pretty happy. The next day she came back with the three boys. They were demanding to learn too.
For a moment I imagined my future in Ek Naab as a sort of sensei figure, teaching kids and teenagers to find inner peace and harmony and whatnot in the mastery of capoeira…
That is, until I understood what the kids wanted. They’d heard stories about me fighting, defeating the kidnappers in Brazil with my mad capoeira skills. They’d heard how I broke Simon Madison’s wrist with my trademark mariposa move. Well for a start I wanted to know how they knew, although I guess they heard it from someone who heard it from Benicio who heard it from Ixchel…
Then I had to tell them that I didn’t win a single fight in Brazil, not properly won, I mean. Tyler did most of the hard work. And then they just looked puzzled, then irritated. “We didn’t hear about this Tyler person…”
“Can you teach us to fight like that,” one of them finally insisted. And I said no, that capoeira wasn’t meant to be used as a fight…it’s a game full of mischief and fun and axé (an Afro-Brazilian word that means something like ‘heart/energy/spirit’.)
And that’s when I realised. I couldn’t teach capoeira to these kids. Not properly. Because I’m not a master - a Mestre. I know some moves and I’ve used them to maybe help save my life. But this is not what capoeira is for. Although once upon a time, it was. I continue to need it that way. One day, I hope I’ll be good enough to just play.