Convos and Debates
Where in the U.S. can I find a professor of Capoeira like you? The self defense is not as important as the history and cultural perspective you bring to the table. Yes, I am trying to get some kind of connection with Africa, to answer the question "Who am I?
I'm not aware of any. Personally, I don't see any rigid distinction between the self defense aspect of Asako (Afrikan Combat Capoeira) and the historical and cultural aspects. Once you know yourself and your enemy, the behavioral correlate follows as a natural matter of course that value for oneself will translate into a concerted interest in defending oneself, one's Afrikan family, one's Afrikan community, one's Afrikan nation and one's Afrikan race. A good way to restore and reinvigorate your connection to Afrika would be to actually come to Afrika and, as much as possible, to cease and desist from enriching our historical, current and future enemies in the form of eurasians. We can help with that too http://www.sankofajourney.com
I wish you much success to you in your quest to answer your question. Hopefully you get the correct answer to it sooner rather than later so that you can get to the actual work of acting based on that answer.
Ọbádélé Kambon, PhD
Thank you for the prompt response. I ran across a Youtube video stating that
Asako mother is Africa and Brazil is Asako's Father. In my opinion this continues
the long history of Europeans stealing aspects of African culture. From Salsa,
Rock N Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Reggae, and now Hip Hop Europeans have
co-opted aspects of African cultures for their needs.
Asako is where I am drawing a personal line. I will continue to train using
Nilson Reis and Joselito Santos Videos. I have already mastered the
queixada, armada, meia lua de pressa, au, role, negative, ginga, and
basic escapes. As a descendant of a slave it will be more gratifying to
learn with limited means( at my house with no live instructor) Eventually
I will post videos, so you can check my progress if you are so inclined.
Do you sell those pants you are training in your videos? I'd like a pair.
There is a lack of videos that demonstrate Asako punching and
grappling techniques. The focus seems only to be on kicking.
I have read some of the literature you posted on your website
about Asako. Are there any other recommended readings so
I can put Asako in historical and cultural perspective?
No problem, EM,
Asako is what we do here in Afrika. I don't think the homogenized pasteurized toned-down Capoeira that they may have been referring to in that video would necessarily qualify as Asako. But, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the phenomenon of eurasian culture bandits. The eurasian enemy mines Afrika not only for raw materials and minerals, but also for cultural and ideational resources among others.
As a descendant of an enslaved Afrikan, I'm glad that you have drawn a personal line. I would recommend that you use the ongoing Abibifahodie highlight series to learn. This is because, contrary to popular opinion, Asako (Afrikan Combat Capoeira) is more than simply a collection of movements; it is rather the context-driven accomplishment of objectives through the maintenance of practical and pragmatic principles. Once you understand the objectives and principles, the movements and techniques will, indeed, emanate from within.
If you haven't already, join http://www.abibifahodie.com as a member and add videos to the video section and I will be sure to check them out. We only have the RBG pants here in Ghana. The t-shirts, however, are available online in the store area of the site.
You need to go through the aforementioned Abibifahodie videos. You'll see live implementation of hand strikes, grappling, foot strikes, stick fighting, knife fighting, spear throwing, knife throwing, etc.
There's a book called Fighting for Honor by TJ Desch Obi that should be a good starting place for you.
Let me know if you have any further questions and be sure to register for the site as soon as you are able if you haven't already done so.
Ọbádélé Kambon, PhD
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Dear Prof HL,
Yes, this is Capoeira as a fight. I appreciate the well wishes!
But Capoeira, as all martial arts, are not about fighting, they are about avoiding the need for fighting, by establishing a presence of physical invincibility, of balance and responding to opposing forces by moving through them by moving with them; that is why it looks like dance.
What a shame you are going to lead a university community without an understanding of the underlying principles of the art form you claim to be presenting.
Dear Prof HL,
There are two core principles of Capoeira:
1. Doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time (the Ma'at principle of propriety)
2. Attacking without being attacked
These are the principles that my African ancestors used to fend off and defeat their enslavers and establish Free Societies known as Quilombos (from Kikôngo Kilômbo).
My succinct response was a typical and easily recognizable capoeira movement. In other words, if you would like to go off on a wild tangent and draw conclusions based on unfounded assumptions, by all means, please do so. My daughter who is 6 years old does it. My wife also does it. The thrust of the original email was to give people who may not have heard of it a reference point and to show the effectiveness as many whom I have encountered seem to think only Asian ones (like jiu-jitsu) are useful for self-defense while thinking Capoeira is good for "dancing."
A few points of clarity:
1. You repeatedly spell Capoeira as "Capoeria".
2. Places where Capoeira is done are typically referred to as academias rather than dojos.
3. You mentioned "muscle-bound" but there is an inverse relationship between muscle mass and stamina/flexibility, the latter of which are most valuable in Capoeira.
4. I did not attend JSS or primary but rather JHS and elementary school
At any rate, Capoeira lesson 1:
In the face of "totally macho", "unchecked aggression" in the form of written emails from experts on Capoeira, a good capoeirista should deftly avoid the attacks and, rather than attacking back, let the person's own words do all the damage.
As you know "Capoeira é tudo que a boca come."
Again, I appreciate the well wishes!
If you want to be punctilious about spelling we can go through your initial messages hunting down spelling errors but I thought it was incidental and a completely tangential, therefore not worth pursuing as you indicate below, in any case email is a medium where spelling is not paramount so I didn't correct mine. But doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time, as you say, is to avoid fighting which is the point I was making. Similarly with translating dojo as academia. There will be many words referring to the same function and purpose, just as JHS and JSS have similar connotations, as do primary and elementary.
I thought as grown ups we could assume such fundamentals. I am mistaken, please forgive me.
I did not confuse Capoeira with dance, I gave an account of why it looks like dance, which it does--graceful and fluid at times.
The muscle-bound impression is not in my imagination, which is based on points where Asian martial arts overlap with Capoeira, but the impression that one draws from the photographs that you uploaded to attract people to your classes.
My very point was that martial arts as derived in Asia are not at all the only source where the arts of avoiding conflict in the face of aggression is confronted.
Like in our interchange.
To which I hope we can put an end, as it is so totally fruitless.
Good luck once again in your endeavours. Unless of course you will not choose to pick apart the inconsistency in my spelling once again.
God bless you.
ps: congratulations on the opening of your capoeira club. I am very much interested in what you are teaching them (kapore or capoeira). I will soon be posting a very exciting video on a Sao Tome capoeira dance called puita which I am sure will make your eyes pop out.
I have 15 videos that show excerpts from our rodas. You can check them out in this playlist.https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...B82lc4WeDJ4DOh
The main things I've been teaching them are
1) Doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time (the Ma'at concept of propriety)
2) Attacking without being attacked (also useful for guerrilla warfare)
When they follow these two core principles they do well. When they deviate from them, that's where the challenges occur. In short, I'm teaching them how to use Capoeira (Kipura) as an effective fight modality. I think I showed you one of those videos a long time ago. Great! I look forward to seeing your video!
Take care and stay BlackNificent!
Hotep Dr. (Obadele) Kambon!
Thanks much for your speedy reply. If any of the papers your seminar produces can find their way to a highly-respected academic journal, that would of course be better. What our Foundation offers is a viable alternate source of on-line publication if the paper in question fails to attain that lofty goal. You will see (under papers submitted) that we have published a number of papers by distinguished University professors (mostly from Francophone Africa) who have submitted them to us and we would be delighted if members of your faculty did the same.
I am afraid your second principle under Capoeira disqualifies the art you are teaching from being "capoeira" as I know it. Since any Capoeira attack must result from an armed trap which is set before it can be released. This is a basic fundamental of capoeira which follows the sequence "evade - arm a trap - attack by releasing the trap". Please read my article on the African origins of Capoeira which expounds this principle. You can find it by opening www.blacfoundation.org and going to papers submitted / black martial arts. It is the last article in that section.
This is not to say that what you will be teaching is not a powerful modification of what was. After all, that was what Bimba did in creating modifications that resulted in Capoeira Regional. He, in effect, turned a defensive art into a much more aggressive art. Everything evolves and so has Capoeria; but as Mestre Pastinha once said: "Capoeira Angola is a perfect art and has no need of borrowing from any other martial art to be effective."
You don't have to agree with me on this basic element of capoeira philosophy and I wish you complete success in your endeavors. However, 'tis well that you are calling it Kapore instead of Capoeira because you are most definitely deviating from a basic underlying fundamental of this unique African form of self defense.
I am looking forward to seeing you one day in Ghana and congratulate you on all that you have accomplished thus far and probably will continue to accomplish in the near and distant future. Also, I would like to ask at this time why don't you join our Century Club. Doing so, would place you in our loop of communication for the life of the Foundation. As a Century or Millennium Club member we will even officially mourn your passing!
Here's what you get with your memberships: 1) listing of your name on our website as a Century Club member; 2) a free Early African Presence in New York kit (as advertised on our site); 3) access to our private channel for the year of your membership; 4) continuing notification of updates to the site and where to find them; 5) a tax deduction for a charitable contribution statement if requested; 6) free electronic journals as they are developed; and 7) small gifts to countries where I travel if applicable. In the past our Century Club members have received BLAC Foundation T-Shirts, Batiks from Indonesia and East Timor, and various oter trinkets.
Htp Dr Babapo,
No problem. I will be sure to keep that in mind and let others know as well.
Unfortunately you learned "post-ban" Capoeira and never learned to fight with it as it was in a very pristine "laboratory" type of environment (i.e. removed from situations that may occur in reality) with strict rules that those who weren't part of it would not know or follow. It may be helpful for you to re-read the history of what Capoeira was able to accomplish in war and in the streets. Then take a look at what you do and ask yourself whether what you know as Capoeira is anywhere in the ballpark of being able to do similar. If so, I would like to see video of you and your students fighting or sparring so we can evaluate their successes and failures.
You see, at the end of the day, what you regard as tradition is what I see as the modification to make Capoeira more palatable and suitable for instruction in academias (there were no academias in the Kilômbo as you could well imagine). Pastinha taking the colors from his favorite football club is now held sacred as Capoeira tradition when that, among other things were innovations. The 3 berimbaus instead of 3 drums is another innovation. Singing in portuguese is another (by the way, we sing in Afrikan languages here). Having movements named in portuguese is another.
The crux of the matter is once you know that you are Afrikan, your goals and objectives will determine what your methods and subsequent outcomes will look like. If you don't know that you are Afrikan, you may begin to ape what you find Brazilians or continental Afrikans doing wholeheartedly without applying logic to it (i.e. will X help me accomplish my objectives? Self-defense or otherwise). Of course one would need to have clear objectives in mind. Then again, if one's sole objective is to swallow whatever one finds whole and assume that what they encounter is how it must have been from time immemorial, well, you get what you get.
The major difference between applying logic towards accomplishing one's objectives and swallowing wholesale is that for one who knows he/she is Afrikan, Capoeira becomes an endless open field full of possibilities being taught directly by one's ancestors. For those who think they need to accept what are clearly innovations as tradition, Capoeira becomes a strait jacket. In this case, the strait jacket is in the form of "evade - arm a trap - attack by releasing the trap" and thinking that any attack "MUST" result from an armed trap. I would encourage you to dwell on the first principle that I shared with you. Contextuality is key. The point is to know when to follow that mechanical procedural understanding and to know when wisdom - i.e. learning from experience - tells one to move differently. Logically, do you think Afrikans waited for their erstwhile enslavers to start attacking them first before raiding the plantations? "Hold on, hold on, let them go first...we don't care for the element of surprise in striking the first blow. We MUST evade their attack before we do anything!"
Also the term I'm using is Kipura. I think you may be familiar with etymology provided by the late Ngânga Kimbwandene Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau.
But I'm ready to agree to disagree on this. I'll just suffice it to say that I've gotten a chance to try both the strait jacket method and the open field method, and I have found the open field method to be much more conducive to my objectives which I think were more in line with those who needed to use Capoeira for survival BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY without the formalities of the rules and regulations of the ritual/game version that you regard to be the totality of Capoeira. Afrikan people are still at war, therefore our objectives should be in alignment with this fact. Once we understand this, it becomes clear who is deviating and who is staying true to fundamental principles of it.
In short, I am speaking from the experience of fighting and sparring with practitioners (and instructors) of Capoeira, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Wrestling, etc. In the end, the result is victory for Capoeira as I understand it especially over those who have been practicing Capoeira for a decade or more because, for many, they have never made physical contact and no one has made physical contact with them; not due to their skill, but because this is what their strait jacket tells them and their proscribed dancing partners to do. Those who are fighting resisting opponents who don't intend on obeying those rules have no such luxury and they will be forced to actually learn why the evasions and attacks are the way they are - because if they aren't body parts get destroyed.
At any rate, this exchange has been fruitful for, if nothing else, giving an opportunity to hear what Capoeira is to you and for you to hear what it is to me. At the end of the day, as your Mestre said "Capoeira é tudo que a boca come." So Capoeira may just be big enough to incorporate your understanding and whatever objectives you have as well as mine.
On your final point, given your vast wealth, however, I would like to see you make some purchases from AbibitumiKasa.com as your much-less-wealthy juniors greatly need your support (as you'll recall, when I asked you how you are able to travel the world, your response was but a single word: wealth!!) Trinkets notwithstanding, I think you may be in a much better position to support my humble endeavors financially than I would be to support your great and monumental work. However, if I ever do attain your level of wealth, by all means I will be sure to shift some over in your direction.
Hotep my learned friend:
Unfortunately, you think we did not learn how to fight with capoeira Angola and are confusing what we learned with Pastinha with our performance in a traditional roda. Yes, you are correct in saying that the performance in a roda is sanitized. It certainly is. That is such because the objective of the strike is not to hit but rather to cue your adversary to defend himself. We learned all the intricacies of capoeira including how to hold a knife when attacking and how to defend ourselves. And it is that capoeira which enabled the ex-slaves of Palmares to fight off numerous expeditions sent against them. You remind me a bit here of Buddah's cousin who thought he knew more than the Buddah and wanted to take over the sangam. Yes there were street gangs and thugs in Rio who employed some capoeira in their endeavors; but they also employed other things too. If we talk about the logic of physics we would readily understand why the gun must be cocked before it is fired or why blows delivered to vital points are more effective.
Capoeira is not the only martial art in the world but it is unique to Africa and your "attack whenever you can philosophy by any means possible" seems more like Stokely Carmichael than a capoeirista. As fr as the language is concerned Angolans who came to Brzil spoke Portuguese Creole well before the discovery of Brazil. That they choose to sing it in the language they speak in a given country is natural. It is probably for certain that the first Capoeiristas were not chanting in Ga! But whatever language they used was a language they understood.
The fact that we learned to always be aware of malicia is indicative of the fact that we were aware that rules could be broken and furthermore must be able to deal with it. Both Pastinha's students and my students sparred with machetes and sticks and were quite able to defend themselves even though you don't see that in a modern roda. We had students who were even capable of dodging bullets in an elevator.
You must realize that what distinguishes capoeira from karate is not the attack but rather the evasive movements and arming of a trap, something that karate does not do. This is what makes it capoeira. Your teachings seem more akin to mixed martial artists fighting in a cage like animals.
Your notion that Capoeira Angola is a dumbing down or taming of some viscious form of more ancient capoeira is an idea shared by many capoeiristas who call themselves "regional" rather than angoleiros. I assure you that angoleiros can easily hold their own with such performers. We already had that debate in Brazil way back in 1967 and even prior to that. I think you would have liked the capoeira of Mestre Sena who did judo bows, wore kimonos, and fought mostly standing.
And what makes you think there were no accademies in the kilombos. When I was in Bahia there were many many street academies. The only difference between Pastinha and them was that Pastinha had a building whereas the street academies centered around the home of their respective masters. And Pastinhas colors has nothing to do with the origin of capoeira, but rather mestre Pastinha himself. Originally, capoeiristas had no uniforms at all and that was what we were taught. It is certainly not a sacred tradition held by anyone who knows what capoeira is all about. They hold it in esteem because they want to preserve his tradition not the tradition of capoeira. Much like many of Elija Muhammeds followers pretended to walk with a limp in imitation of their leader. CPastinha was not the founder of Capoeira de Angola and never claimed to be the founder. It is those who confuse Bimba's founding of Regional with the Capoeira of Pastinha and labeled it the Capoeira of Pastinha. All the other groups in Bahia did capoeira Angola and not regional and they werem't imitating Pastinha as their teacher before them taught them the same art.
As far as the names of the moves being in Portuguese, I alreadyexplained above that they name things in the language they employ tesouras is scissors in English and it could be called anything else in a different language. The idea of doing things in Portugues however preserves the unity of the practitioners much like Latin preserved the unity o the Catholic church even though Christ didn't certainly speak it.
You seem to imply that I didn't know that drums were used before the berimbau even though that is stated in my book. Capoeira as a philosophy of defense is unaffected by the type of instruments played. And yes, why not sing in African languages if that is your language. The only problem is that other capoeiristas around the world wouldn't understand you. That is a contributing reason why English and not Ga is the official language of Ghana.
Tradition is important, we all can sing Christmas songs together because they are part of a tradition. If there were new christmas sogs every year there would be a generational gap and Christmas carols would lose their powerful spell.
Certainly plantations were raided for food and women; but they didn't use capoeira to do that.
They were the same people yes; but do you think anything a capoeirista does is capoeira. Is anything a karateka does, karate. If he is shitting on a pot does he shit in karate?
When you talk of sparring with fighters using other disciplines and you emerge victorious, it is you who emerged victorious and not capoeira. If what you do doesn't adhere to the fundamentals of capoeira how can you call it capoeira? Nowadays Capoeira Contemporanea has increased use of fist blows and blocks in attacking and defending themselves.As a result the art is losing its character. The acrobatics that you see today, also were not part of capoeira. Flips and other displays of agility have little to do with the nature of capoeira.
When we sat and sang songs about capoeira, one of them was "We are in school to learnthe fundamentals of Capoeira", Not to learn how to beat someone. Nowadays if you want to win carry a pistol. If you bellieve capoeira is doing what is bet to win then you would have to include fighting with stones and guns and other such extensions as capoeira. I say if you fight with a rifle you are a fusilier. If you fight with bows and arrows, you are an archer. If you fight evading - arming a trap - and releasing the trap you are a capoeirsta. It is just that simple.
I welcome the continuation of the debate, but you my friend are badly placed in Ghana which has no tradition whatsoever of this Bantu art form. You should devote some time to the art of the Ijala hunters in Nigeria or to whatever the equivalent was in Ghana if you want to adhere to an African tradition rather than something you are still in the process of creating.
That said, capoeira, to my mind, is not a straight-jacket but rather a pair liberating wings with which to fly. As far as wealth is concerned, I am certainly not a wealthy man. I do get by, however, because I know how to live within my means. My secret (if you want to call it that) is not to indulge myself with fanciful things, but rather only with the neccessities of life. The money you give to join the Century Club does not benefit me in the least. It is exclusively used to support those projects you see under requests for funds. Since I am not wealthy and don't indulge in buying things I don't need, that leaves me out of buying abitumi products. I do however recommend them to others. Since I don't have a wife and children to support it really doesn't matter if anyone buys my books or not. I write them to provide knowledge in a field which few people write about and if people buy I am happy because others have shown interest in what I am doing. If they don't buy I will still write because perhaps in the future they will show interest.
I asked you to join our club not to get your hundred dollars but rather to put you permanently in the loop. Lacouir is a member and so is Danny Dawson and the other 14 people whose names you see in the listing.
Finally, I am not opposed to your modifications of capoeira in the least, I am only adving you not to call it capoeira because despite your "logic" and "arguments" to the contrary what you say you are doing is not capoeira but rather mixed martial arts.
I just watched your impressive presentation on TV3 Sunrise. You did an outstanding job there and what you did was most definitely capoeira without any deviation. I also watched another video of yours which also appears to be capoeira with minimal deviation and a far cry from your second proclaimed principle. I hope that that is what you'll be teaching at the U and not the rough and tumble fisticuffs of previous videos you sent to me for viewing.
Hotep my even-more-learned friend,
There are a lot of contradictions, or shall we say inconsistencies (contradictions is a bit harsh) in what you are saying and have said for the sake of this "debate". You seem to forget that when we were at Wisconsin, you taught us that in raiding plantations, Afrikans would feign running away from the plantation master in order to do macaco to attack. You then had us do drills simulating a chicken under our arms while doing macaco forwards and backwards over the verga of the berimbau. Now you say "Certainly plantations were raided for food and women; but they didn't use capoeira to do that." The lengths that one will go to to "win" a debate! Then you say "And it is that capoeira which enabled the ex-slaves of Palmares to fight off numerous expeditions sent against them." Hold on! Hold on! "They didn't use capoeira" or it was "capoeira which enabled the ex-slaves to fight off" the expeditions? They didn't use capoeira or they used their macaco with a chicken under their arms? Or did their macaco stop being a manifestation of Capoeira by virtue of the chicken?
When and where did they decide, "Hold on for a second. We won't use capoeira here! Let's use karate instead!"?
Indeed, you remind me of Ananse/Ìjàpá and the wisdom pot. Ananse, the old trickster spider went across the whole world, trotting the globe with the aim of collecting all the wisdom of the world into his pot. Then, to hide it so that he could decide who would get some and who wouldn't, he attempted to climb up a tree with the pot hanging on his neck down his belly. He found that when his legs touched the tree, his arms didn't. When his arms touched, his legs didn't. Then his young son Ntikuma came upon the scene and observed what was going on. He advised his even-more-learned old father that it would probably go much smoother for him if he would hang the pot on his back. Ananse, at first put off that his young son would have the audacity to advise him, decided to try it out. He climbed the tree with ease. He had gathered all the wisdom of the world into his pot but yet, his son was still able to teach him some wisdom. In a fit of anger, he threw the pot down, causing it to crash on the ground where the wind blew the wisdom all over the world. Here's a cute animated version where ananse ends up with a much better portrayal in seeing the folly of his ways than most real life Ananse's have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG9eknk6mqw
Now, back to the subject at hand; the major flaw in your thinking results from the aristotelian type of necessary and sufficient conditions approach to categorization: To be capoeira or not to be. Quite Eurasian. Rigid. Similar to Karate katas.
On the other hand, you may be well advised to adapt your approach to more of a prototype based approach wherein a given thing is an instantiation along a continuum. That thing, in this case Capoeira, would then show prototype effects whereby, in your perception, something is either more or less like what you conceive to be the prototype. However, for you there is only the rigid border rather than fuzzy boundaries.
You make this mistake because the narrowness necessitated by your epistemological orientation intimates that only physical movements are capoeira. If your understanding was more broad, you would see strokes of Capoeira even in the so-called "debate" in these email exchanges of ours. Again, your mestre said "Capoeira é tudo que a boca come". Check him out saying it (although you hearing and seeing him say it doesn't mean that you'll understand and/or agree with him):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBRgPTD4fMw . Apparently you may have gone out to sh*t karate when your mestre said that. It would do you well to ponder on what that means and, when you do, your focus will be less on what is not Capoeira but rather on seeing Capoeira in all that you do. This understanding, however, will always elude you when you simply see Capoeira as a collection of physical movements and miss the point that it is a worldview. By the same token, it seems that the Afrikans who attacked their enemies from trees would have had a hard time with you around as you would have been hopping around the trunk attempting to tell them that there are no trees allowed in Capoeira. The same ones you mentioned in Wisconsin who raided for chickens, you would have been at the fence of the plantation insisting that they either pick the chicken or the macaco, because there are no chickens in Capoeira. Once you introduce a chicken into the mix, that disqualifies it from being Capoeira.
Again, if you were able to realize that even one's thoughts can follow or deviate from the principles of Capoeira and begin to show adaptability based on context (back to the first principle), you would be much more likely to check your thoughts for the mental karate and katas going on up there in your brain and try to bring those eurasian renegades more in line with a more prototypically Afrikan worldview.
Again, as you hang your capoeira books on your belly, it would do you well to remember that Capoeira is less of a collection of techniques and more of a worldview, which encompasses one's thinking as well. Perhaps even in the thoughts that occur to one as he/she is sh*tting.
You mention "capoeira, to my mind, is not a straight-jacket [sic] but rather a pair liberating wings with which to fly." Then your mind preoccupies itself with delineating the boundaries of it into the smallest possible space. It's not this, not this, it's not that, not this and not this. Unfortunately the wings of a butterfly on a cow won't take it too far come flight time.
I wish you would read more carefully. The point is not attack as much as you can, but rather to attack without being attacked. If you are not careful, you may end up debating with ghosts that are not there or confusing beating up straw men that you set up yourself for actual resisting human beings. This would be akin to thinking that playing with a cooperating partner will help you when someone is not ready or willing to follow your rigid formulaic understanding of Capoeira. Wisdom - learning by means of experience - however, says otherwise.
You said that you were taught how to fight, but In a previous email you said "Whenever the 'game' went beyond the defense, counter-attack, resulting defense etc. ,however, it was stopped, not only to protect the adversaries but because it no longer served an instructive purpose." In this sentence you told me very clearly that you did not learn how to fight. In what fight, real or simulated would one be able to stop and say, "hold on, this serves no instructive purpose...please stop grabbing my leg and slamming me on my neck" There are things that you literally can't begin to think about until you have someone who is not only resisting but intent on harming you to whatever degree. You may think that you're thinking about it and that your pristine laboratory thoughts would serve you such that you would be able to elevate to the level necessary without ever having done so previously. You would see that you are sadly and badly mistaken. The experience you had shows clearly that where your instruction stopped was actually the exact point where the learning BEGINS! Unfortunately you were robbed of the opportunity to learn from experience as your body teaches you how to deal with any given scenario instead of only the add-water-and-mix scenarios to which you may have become accustomed.
You mention the TV3 video. As you see, it's much easier to descend from fight to game than vice-versa. The point is I can do Capoeira as you understand it but you and those who fall under your aegis don't seem to have the ability to do Capoeira as your ancestors did - pre-academia - by following the two core principles.
But at the end of the day, I actually followed your formula in this email exchange. "Evade - arm a trap - attack by releasing the trap." You see I evaded your email from August 2, 2013 where you were pulling verbal capoeira out of your wisdom pot - not out of any intent to bring this up later, but rather from a recognition of the futility of attempting to teach a senior citizen how to fight Capoeira via email. My evasion, however armed a trap which was sprung one day ago and now the trap is released. Again, if you listened to your mestre's philosophical understanding you would have seen the Capoeira oozing off the screen. However, the karate mind-state has certainly proscribed you from seeing how everything is just one thing rather than disparate compartments.
You mention mixed martial arts, but again, there you have another sanitized environment laden with rules and regulations. It's a closer approximation of a fight than of course your concept of gamesmanship and ritual innovation mistaken for tradition (albeit innovations that you can justify), but there in the cage, you aren't able to incorporate things like the puddle on the floor, the direction of sunlight so that your opponent has to look into it, the corners and objects that you would back your opponent into, the bricks on the ground, etc. Because what we do can and does take all of those things into account and more, what we do is firmly in the tradition of Capoeira, perhaps even more so than the innovations that you have preserved locked in a time-sealed capsule as you received them. Although, you justify each of the innovations that I mentioned they are still just that: post-ban innovations by those concerned with the palatability of Capoeira to shake off the bad name it earned during the days of the real Capoeira!
At any rate, while I see what you do as somewhere along the continuum of what Capoeira can be, that's not necessarily on the same side as what it could be or what it should be. Especially in light of principle one.
Finally, to get back to the inconsistencies, previously you said that the way you were able to travel the world was wealth. Now you say you are "certainly not a wealthy man". There are a few ways that I could take that 1) you have since lost your wealth 2) you were employing malicia at that time and you weren't wealthy in the first place 3) you are employing malicia now and you actually do have wealth even though you feign not to. If it's either of the latter two, it would mean that you actually do understand Capoeira much more than I give you credit for (i.e. that Capoeira principles can even occur in other contexts beyond the physical).
Again, once my wealth is up to the level of those who are able to travel across the whole world, trotting the globe collecting wisdom into their books, I will most certainly join the century club! In the meantime, I will also continue to recommend your books and site to various and sundry who are interested in the Global Afrikan Presence.
I look forward to seeing you in Ghana!
In the meantime (and even long after), take care and stay BlackNificent!
My how you ramble since acquiring your doctorate! I will not respond to all the points you raise because I see you are set in your posture and will obviously not change your view, no matter what I say. Often when two people engage in an acrid debate they are so intent on making the other see their viewpoint that they don't even listen to what is being said to them by the other party. It is you who has created a windmill and your verbosity has sent it into motion. It is obvious we will not agree to anything at this point. Yes, for some people (like Pastinha) capoeira was more to him than a method of self defense. It was life. And it was life to him because that is how he tried to support himself. My conceptualization of the art of capoeira is based on differentiating it from other martial arts. Capoeira is a system of fighting based about evasion - arming a trap - and releasing it. That is what distinguishes it from let's say karate, or judo, or American boxing and that is what I was focusing on in my debate with you. Of course, it is more than that, because (for some people) it is the core of a culture representing way of viewing life. But, then again, so is karate and I was not talking about the life-style in which these two arts are enveloped; but rather the mechanical aspect of the art of Capoeira as a unique African invention which is distinct from Karate. I also said that Bimba incorporated moves from other martial arts into capoeira. Since Bimba's innovations took place in the 20th century, they have no role in the history of capoeira, because if they were innovations that means that they did not exist in that art prior to their insertion. What you want to do with capoeira is very much what Bimba intended to do - change it from a defensive art to a more aggressiive one.
You say I told you I was wealthy. I never recalled ever telling anyone, much less you, that I was wealthy because I am not and never have been. I have had the opportunity to travel a great deal due to my motivation and opportunities (US soldier in France, Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, Fulbright Fellowship, C.A.S.A. Fellowship, Lecturer Appointment in Nigeria, Associate Peace Corps Director appointment in Francophone Africa, etc.) that presented themselves along the way. Moreover since I (unlike you) never married I was able to save much of what I earned.
I sincerely do not know how you could possibly believe you know more about Capoeira than I do. If it is merely because I don't agree with your views and therefore must be wrong, so be it! The Capoeira you see today is not the capoeira taught by Pastinha in 1967 whenI learned it. It has lost much of its Africanicity and is now in the process of globalization. What I defend is the African tradition now known as capoeira (as transmitted by Pastinha, Caicara, Gato, Roque, and many other masters) that came to Brazil's shores from Africa in the 16th century. An art that was not created in Brazil, but which over time morphed into what it is today. You as a practitioner are free to make any modifications you wish, but if you don't maintain the underlying principles it ceases to be what it once was. It's like pouring milk into coffee, eventually the milk will lose its coffee flavor and become indistinguishable from milk.
I am gravely disappointed that you (as an Africanist) fail to grasp the truth of what I say, but so be it! I will survive, or perhaps I will not. With this message my portion of the debate is over. You can call it my closing remarks.
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Nana maaha, mekyea w'abusuafoo nso!
Thank you for your response.
I've been to two capoeira classes here in montreal with the fica angola group (still mostly whites as you can imagine). And man, when I was trying to explain to them how I have been training with yall in Ghana, the response was like: "What!? You mean you would actually use capoeira to defend yourself!? Wow.. very strange." And this was a response from capoeiristas! And I'm not trying to get all uppity, because I am well aware that I haven't even been training a year, and I have so much to learn, but you could train capoeira with a group like this for years, and not know the first thing about the potential of it...
This approach seems to be all based on the theory of, "We need to create a dialogue of movement, and If I wanted to strike you there, I could have...but I'm never going to...but if I really wanted to I could!" And I'm like "Negro if that's all you've ever done, how do you know you even have the capability to strike when the time comes!" And I know they can't, I can just tell by the way they move that they have never landed a strike before. And don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of flow, but it can't all be about creating a pretty "dialogue of movement". But it can, and that's what it has become, and I think it has become that way because all these whites practicing Capoeira think they are connecting to the "tradition", but have no real sense of WHY it came about. So it logically follows that they nullify it--tame it into a 'pretty' dialogue of movement with zero practical application. And on the flipside, it's in the interest of some of these brothers to do that as well, in order to popularize their capoeira lineage for monetary gain or prestige or whatever, and make it palatable to whites, so that they can dissociate from the ongoing history in which we are all implicated.
So, my teacher, I hear your words long after they have been spoken. Mate, na meda ase papapa! Thank you for the wake up call.
In other news, I have been speaking with a friend who is interested in doing some self-defense stuff, and we are going to meet to discuss the possibility of starting a capoeira-centred practical application training session with a local black youth group. The issue is, I don't think I'm ready to run an effective "class" yet. I need more time!!! But I'm in such a hurry to get there, because now is the time. It feels so urgent, you know.
Aside from that, all is good, onyame adom, me ho ye.
Yaa nua. Yoo, wɔbɛte.
@Kai, one of the issues at hand is that instead of practicing an Afrikan fighting art/science in an actual practical context, many people are practicing Afro-Brazilian gymnastics/games/rituals/acrobatics. We can't forget that the academies that sprung up were after the famous ban during which it was disguised. The historical circumstances of what type of capoeira some of the most famous mestres got and therefore passed down makes it such that their "disguised" capoeira would necessarily look markedly different from that of those whose goals had nothing to do with disguising but were rather focused on ripping off the head of their enslavers on either side of the ocean. As such you, as an Afrikan, may have to use your DNA, pour libation to access those ancestors directly and pull rank by taking the movements and using them the way we know it was used historically pre-ban.
Feel free to show the Afrikans in the group up there some of our videos:http://www.abibitumikasa.com/forums/vbtube.php
You may remember the guy Marcus who came to class saying he had been studying capoeira for 8 or 9 years and how we mopped the floor with him. Well, that's because in actuality, that day was his very first actual capoeira class. The guy Michael with the white wife who started a capoeira class at Alliance as well, when he came to class he said that was his first time making contact ever and he claimed to have been doing it since he was a small child. Once you know what Capoeira did historically and then you see these jokesters starting classes with zero understanding of it and not a semblance of the ability to do anything close to the capoeira of old, it lets you know the sad state of affairs in this day and age.
You mentioned "you could train capoeira with a group like this for years, and not know the first thing about the potential of it... " and you're absolutely right. Because groups like that are doing Afro-Brazilian games and rituals rather than Capoeira that we know won wars, scared a population stiff, cut throats, intimidated voters, liberated Afrikans, kwk. Could you keep a straight face and tell me that what you're witnessing with that f.i.c.a. group there could do any of the above? Now take that picture and compare it with Abibifahodie Capoeira.
Although you're relatively young in your training, you're about a year ahead of all those people who proclaim that they've done it for a decade or more. In actuality, they haven't started yet. All you truly need is
the correct principles and goals,
the basic movements and
the experience putting the movements in context with "uncooperative opponents"
You already have #1 and #2 . You can get #3 by smacking and kicking around any self-respecting person to the point that they'll try to even the score. But since you've been doing Capoeira for a year longer than any of them, you should be fine.
You should definitely link with the friend and start training the youth group. You'll find that your body will teach you more being responsible for their Capoeira education than it would if you were just doing it for yourself. Document what you do (video, audio, writing) as well. You are part of changing the course of history.
Yɛda Onyame ase sɛ biribiara yɛ bɔkɔɔ wɔ hɔ. Hyɛ den! Daakye bi, ɛbɛsi wo yie!
PS - you said
"And on the flipside, it's in the interest of some of these brothers to do that as well, in order to popularize their capoeira lineage for monetary gain or prestige or whatever, and make it palatable to whites, so that they can dissociate from the ongoing history in which we are all implicated. "
This was the route that my own instructor followed putting himself under "mestre" acordeon. I still shudder at the thought of those non-Afrikans wearing the RBG.
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Word, thank you for your advice. Like Besouro, I will trust my body to teach me how to walk. The fight continues, indeed.
Yɛnni aseda o. Please keep your Abibifahodie fam back at home base updated on any developments in this regard