Conversation with EM
Published: 06 January 2016
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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Capoeira Debate with Prof HL
Published: 19 December 2015
Capoeira yɛ dɛn Mfonipɔn
Dear Dr. Kamon,
Good luck in your venture. The pictures here, when the images are revealed, indicate that you intend this course to be a totally macho, muscle bound show-off extended exercise of strutting aggression. A total turn off for people who know martial arts from the inside, including a Capoeria. Women in particular need to learn the art of self-confidence and physical dignity which training in the more subtle martial arts, particularly capoeria, but there looks like there will be no room in your training for women. One can assume this from the images. Too bad. As a yellow-belt in ju-jitsu I would have loved to develop along side physical discipline along with my younger colleagues, but your dojo will certainly not be the place to find such collegiality, from the look of your reference points and the photos you show of how capoeira under your aegis will develop in Ghana.
Some years ago, while you might still have been in JSS or even primary, we had a drummer from Brockport who was a capoeria trainer, and he was very keen for a co-ed Dojo here at Legon. He didn’t just show off his prowess, he encouraged women to also take their own participation and physical development seriously.
Martial art of such grace and power would be just the venue for young men and women in a university context to learn a new way of relating to each other–more as equals in respect and dignity. But your images give no clue you have any such vision in mind.
What a shame, a lost opportunity.
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.
Capoeira Philosophizing with Dr. KR
Published: 19 December 2015
What began as a conversation about knives versus guns on a social networking platform, transformed into a debate about legitimacy in Capoeira. A non-traditional Capoeira instructor posted a video of himself using Capoeira against a gun attack. He was promptly attacked by a Contra-Mestre of Capoeira Angola who declared him to be a fraud. While the back and forth as been somewhat interesting to watch, I suspect that there are bigger issues at play, issues that I’m hoping we can address here.
The core issues are as follows: 1) the rationality of training Capoeira for self-defense, 2) the legitimacy of individuals teaching or popularizing seemingly unconventional approaches to the art, 3) the combat tradition that Capoeira emerges from and its relevance to practitioners today, 4) and lineage as a measure of legitimacy.
With respect to number one, there seems to be a great deal of allegiance to the idea of Capoeira as a non-contact, dance-like, acrobatic sport. So much so that many have declared that A) Capoeira is not meant for fighting, or B) that Capoeiristas who are concerned about self-defense should train in other martial arts like Muay Thai or Jujitsu. This perspective fails to account for the historical accounts of Capoeiristas as proficient and deadly fighters. In this sense, this position seems both ahistorical and non-critical in failing to reflect upon how the political-economy of Capoeira in Brazil has influenced the expressions of the art over time. This means that the legal status of Africans, the legal status of Capoeira, and its commodification are all factors which have shaped its outward expression in quite deliberate ways.
The second issue suggests that Capoeira is a traditional art that can only retain its authenticity if it retains a specific kinesthetic form. While I agree that Capoeira is a collection of physical techniques, theoretical/philosophical orientations, histories, and non-combat elements (such as music, the game, and so forth), I do not agree that tradition is static. Thus, if Capoeira is a traditional fighting art, then its survival has most likely been occasioned by constant adaptations throughout its history in southwestern Africa, Brazil, and so forth. This suggests that if we were to observe Capoeira’s Angolan predecessor in the mid-15th Century, the art might look quite differently from what we have come to know. Also, if we were to observe it in the context of 17th Century African resistance to enslavement in Brazil, it would also, quite likely, look very different from its present form. These are not differences that would be evident simply based on the proclivity of the practitioners, or simply matters of inheritance of a supposed static tradition. Quite the contrary, their art would look different based on the context, its role, and their objectives in each time and place.
The third issue is a natural outgrowth from the second, or rather it is one for those who consider Capoeria a fighting art, and who seek to adapt Capoeira to their spatial, geographic, and cultural contexts. Moreover, these are individuals and/or collectives who have designated Capoeria as a technical asset that appreciably contributes to art or science of combat. Finally, they have decided to employ Capeoria in this regard for defense, the education and training of other mashujaa (warriors). If fact it might be argued that these practitioners are not merely creating a novel approach to the art, but are instead reclaiming an earlier and possibly lost tradition. This is not to suggest that their relationship between their combative Capoeirista forbears is a lineal one—most likely today’s practitioners learned Capoeria in a non-combative norm, as is the common practice—but they are, one might argue, reclaiming an ancestral tradition.
Lastly, this question of lineage is directly related to issue number four, not with regards to whether today’s aspirants of a combative form of Capoeria are situated within the large historical and methodological arcs of Capoeria’s tradition, but whether they are transmitting an interpretation of the art that was taught directly to them by their teachers. Capoeira, like many or most fighting traditions, follows a path of transmission from teacher to student. Teachers are typically former students, who with their approval of their teachers, take on students of their own. One of the criticisms that has been levied against non-traditional instructors, that is those who teach without the approval or certification of a Capoeira master or association, particularly those who have sought to practice and teach Capoeira as a fighting art, is that these individuals are defying tradition, or worse, are fraudulently engaged in the practice of something else that they are deceptively calling Capoeira.
While I think that this tradition of intergenerational transmission matters in Capoeira, and that teachers of any art should begin as students of that art, I would like to propose that the viability of this process is contingent on the exigencies of one’s context of practice. For example, how would the reality of war impact upon the conceptualization and practice of Capoeira? Would training processes be adapted during a time war so as to emphasize both speed of preparation and competency of practice? Would all aspects of formal preparation be adhered to, or would new standards be devised? Finally, would prospective instructors of the art be recipients of a different training process than their predecessors? Would those who had proven their ability in combat be recognized as candidate instructors even if their own training processes were expedited by necessity? Ultimately, how would Capoeiristas be trained during a time of war? And how would Capoeira be taught if it were the primary fighting method of a contingent of askari (soldiers)?
Wafrika ni penye vita! Africans are at war! This war has taken many forms, however one of these forms, perhaps the most potent, has been the assault on African culture and African social systems. Our systems have been assaulted to such a degree that when one observes the limitations of today’s Capoeira, it is no wonder given the suppression of Africans in Brazil. Should an African who is conscious and aware of this condition submit to the instruction of a mestre (master) who may not posses, value, or teach this knowledge? Is our culture outside of our collective purview, meaning is Capoeira strictly within the domain of traditional teachers, not those who may be non-traditional, yet seek to both uphold and restore Capoeria’s rich warrior tradition? Further, should these so-called non-traditionalists cede the name Capoeira to those who have been deemed authorities in the art, and instead call their art something else similar to how Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do borrowed heavily form Wing Chun, but diverged from the tradition of Wing Chun enough to called something different?
These are all questions related to our present moment, one wherein the very idea of Capoeira is being contested.
01-01-2015, 04:42 PMObadele Kambon
Re: Unauthorized Capoeira?
I know the instructor who you are speaking of. Not personally, but I’ve seen some of his videos online. He seems to have a lot of ideas. Some seem plausible, others I’m not sure. I would need to see them or use them in context to see when they are effective and when they are not.
I have experienced this same view of many who seem to think that Capoeira is a non-contact, dance like, acrobatic sport; primarily useful for bringing people together in a social context.
I have seen all those who think that Capoeira is a game.
Yet others seem to think that it is an acrobatic exhibition.
What I have found is that those who view it as a game, when they engage in capoeira, they are always playing.
Those who see it as an acrobatic display, when they engage in capoeira, they are always doing acrobatics.
Yet others will see it primarily as a ritual, when they engage in capoeira, are always doing ritualistic movements.
Even the same individual, when that person is angry, you may see him or her doing Capoeira in a more aggressive manner.
By the same token when that person is in a good mood, you may see a more jovial and playful approach.
A lot of this has to do with context while another aspect of it has to do with goals and objective.
The person who tells you that Capoeira is the game, is not telling you about Capoeira, but is rather telling you about him or herself.
That person is letting you know his or her orientation (goals), understanding (background) and worldview.
By the same token, a person who tells you that he or she sees Capoeira as a fight, is again telling you about him or herself.
What you are able to glean from such statements is that person’s level of understanding and comprehension more than you can gain an understanding of all that Capoeira actually is.
As you can see it is different to different people or it may even be different to the same person at different points in time or in different contexts.
A person’s understanding, goals and objectives, may also change over the course of one’s life or even in the course of a day.
All of these things will contribute to what philosophy on Capoeira that person has and espouses and what type of Capoeira that person is able to produce.
I wholeheartedly agree with you are observation about the ahistorical nature of those who think that whatever they happen to be doing right now is the equivalent of what was done by Africans whose goals were to fight.
It is a matter of historical record that Capoeira was used in the Triple Alliance War in which many Africans were able to distinguish themselves.
It is also a matter of record that Capoeira got banned because of its violent nature.
What you see many people doing right now and calling authentic capoeira would never be banned due to its violent nature because many such people never make contact.
A few years ago I trained a brother who said that he had been doing capoeira for more than 20 years yet his time coming to train under me was his very first time of ever having made contact with anyone intentionally.
It does not follow logically that those Africans who were fighting enslavement had the same proclivities with regard to making contact with someone else.
With regard to Capoeira retaining its kinesthetic form, I have made some interesting observations over the years.
One of these is that Capoeira can be taught organically.
That is without the rote memorization of specific moves named in Portuguese.
In my experimentation I have taken people who have never done Capoeira before and simply told them to attack without being attacked.
When these Africans are given that task they start doing a lot of standard and recognizable “named” Capoeira movements; certain core movements found in Angola, Regional, Da Rua, Contemporanea, Carioca, etc.
What I have seen from this experiment is that Capoeira can be taught and learned organically when it is taught in a particular context.
When a person is told not to let another person touch him/her, his/her body is what does the teaching-especially when his/her face tells him/her that it doesn’t like being hit.
That is when you start to find an organic growth of movements that are so prototypically part of Capoeira from scratch.
This is part of why I’m less worried about Capoeira being “lost” than I used to be.
An African who doesn’t want to be hit magically and spontaneously learns so-called “esquiva” without being taught “esquiva” because not moving one’s body in that way hurts.
Now, this method isn’t popular with a lot of laymen and doesn’t gain you a legion of students, per se, but I find it to be most effective in teaching context and propriety from the outset.
As a quick digression, in the movie Besouro, the part that resonated with me the most was one of the first statements that was made to Besouro by Mestre Alipio.
Mestre Alipio asked Besouro who taught him how to walk.
Besouro responded that his mother and father taught him how to walk.
Mestre Alipio challenged him on this saying “não, foi seu corpo” or no it was his own body that taught him how to walk.
An intelligent person who is intent on not being struck, his own body will teach him/her how to avoid strikes once the body starts to feel the pain of stupidly standing there to be hit.
I think the disconnect between functional Capoeira of the past and what there is now (which serves different social/political/economic functions) is what happened to Capoeira after the ban and legalization and the rise of its being taught in academies following an Asian format of teaching.
In that format which persists to this day, people are taught a lot of movements.
They memorize how to do this movement and that movement.
However they do not get a real context of why to do these movements.
When I first started learning Angola in 1998 people taught me how to do this movement and that movement.
But I did not understand why to move in that way, when to move in that way, and for what purpose would I move in that way or any other aspect of context that would have made the movement make sense.
For better or for worse, many were just blindly aping what they had seen Afro-Brazilians do.
I don’t think any of them knew or understood Capoeira as a fight because they never fought with it (there are some things that one’s brain can’t even begin to conceptualize until one has experienced fighting someone who seriously wants to do them harm).
For me, my goals were that I was talking about actual combat application.
I was approaching Capoeira as something that I had read 1) was from Africa, thus my interest in it 2) was quite effective at fighting.
That’s when I saw a person’s head hanging out ready to be punched and it didn’t make sense to me of why a person would do that.
Over the years, I came to learn through actual testing in combat situations that such movements can either be a trap or stupidity.
We can look at Anderson Silva’s loss of his middleweight championship in this same vein.
It’s only an intelligent tactic when it works.
It only works consistently after repeated scientific testing in the lab.
When it doesn’t work it is seen as idiocy but actually its just a case of 1) the movement being applied in the wrong context (time or space) 2) lack of systematic testing under rigorous conditions which would yield wisdom via experience.
My most formative years of studying Capoeira were learned with someone, not because of his lineage, but I trained with him because of 1) his Afrikan ideology and 2) because he knew how to fight using Capoeira.
There is an African proverb which states that someone else’s legs do you no good in walking.
People come to my Capoeira class mentioning the names of all of their Mestres or Senseis or whoever get beat up the same as those who don’t mention those names.
Most often people do this name-dropping as a crutch because they themselves do not understand what they have been taught and hope that the osmosis of having been around X person will somehow make them good.
They do not understand the movements that they do or why they do them.
This year a young man from Germany came to class saying that he had learned Capoeira for 10 years with a big time Mestre from a big time group.
I made it a point to ask him whether he learned it as a game, as a ritual, as acrobatics, or as a fight?
He responded that he learned it as all of the above.
I proceeded to whip up on him thoroughly to the point that he had tears in his eyes-not from pain (well, that may have been a contributing factor)-but more so from psychological pain of being dominated so thoroughly.
For he had followed everything that his Mestre had taught him to do, however all of those things that he was taught were taught without any context.
I told him to look at it like today was his very first capoeira class because up to this point, he was just learning a jumbled up collection of movements.
From this day forward he would be learning how, where, when and why to use those movements.
For my African ancestors, Capoeira was not something to be done in an academy but rather something that was functional and practical where if you did not know how to do it correctly you would lose your life or your freedom; they were forced to learn it in context.
Those who didn’t learn it in context died or were re-enslaved.
I was fortunate to have learned capoeira from someone who taught it as a fight.
His means and methods were quite unconventional, however, I found his approach and many of his techniques to be quite effective.
I found them to be effective not only against people who did Capoeira with an assumption that they would not be hit based on some tacit agreement or understanding, but also against those who came into the roda with vicious and violent content from Capoeira or other fighting arts.
I found also that there are different ways to defeat someone who has been doing Capoeira for 10, 20 or 30 years vs someone who comes from another art like the Asian arts.
Each of these techniques and approaches have been honed in actual combat with people fitting this description.
For the sake of my own learning, I record videos of each and every one and I have thousands of hours of footage where I am able to review and see how a person was ever able to even touch me because one of my goals is to not ever even be touched; not because the person has agreed to stand 20 feet away but because he/she can’t.
At this point I feel safest when I am sparring or fighting with someone who intends on harming me, because I have the utmost confidence in what I have learned through trial and error and experimentation that I will be beating this person 30 times for any one time that the person is able to even brush up against me.
I call that a fair trade.
Because of my own context, being in Afrika, I am less concerned about lineage and I even distanced myself from my own instructor due to primarily financial issues some seven or eight years ago.
Now he has put himself on the plantation under a white slavemaster of old presumably for the sake of legitimacy in the Capoeira world…whatever that is.
Since I parted ways with my instructor, I have not looked to go underneath anyone else because, at this point, my body is my teacher.
This is what I tell people who have been practicing for some time: that at this point you know all the moves you need to know and from here on it is not a collection of movements to be memorized anymore.
You know all of the movements that you need to know.
Now learn how to actually use them to attain your goal.
For those whose goals are those of combat and war, the best way to learn how to attain their goals is in the context of combat and war.
For those whose goals are acrobatics the best way to learn how to attain their goals is by flipping around a lot.
For those whose goals are game-like, their best bet is to play with other people who have a similar agreement and understanding so that they won’t get hurt.
I even have some half-caste (Ghanaian parlance for mixed/mulatto) students whose whole goal is just to connect with their Black side.
It will never be anything more than that to them so trying to teach them how to use it to fight is a non-starter.
They just want to do what they see Black people do regardless of whether or not it makes sense from a functional and practical combat perspective.
They are looking for legitimacy and will stop at no form of copycatting to attain it.
But I view the current state of Capoeira as an opportunity.
Rather than railing against those who say that it’s Brazilian to them or that it’s a game or give lip service to saying its a fight without ever actually using it to fight, I let them do what they want to do.
Then I enter recognizing the gap in knowledge similar to how one would do in academia.
This entails the recognition of an opportunity to fill in that gap with regard to reAfrikanization and functional application (two sides of the same coin).
For me, the degree to which Capoeira is so-called “Brazilian” is the exact degree to which it must be re-Afrikanized.
The degree to which Capoeira is a game is the exact degree to which it must be counterbalanced by those who, in our goals of reAfrikanization, dewhitenization and Afrikan Liberation, are willing to put our butts on the line and actually use it to fight.
This reAfrikanization process is multidimensional.
One aspect of it is using Capoeira as a fight.
Another aspect of it is no longer singing in portuguese but rather singing exclusively in Afrikan languages which is an executive decision that I instituted about a year or two ago.
Another aspect is expressing the philosophy and movements of Capoeira in African languages rather than in the languages of our enslavers as is done contemporarily in Brazil.
This is also done through translating useful things from the portuguese into Afrikan languages and discarding those which are not useful for what our goals are.
Having the wisdom to know the difference is a hard-fought privilege.
In the same vein, Capoeira already has another name in our context: Asako from sa – dance/war and ko – fight.
Our Afrikan non-“Brazilian” form of Capoeira is noted for its effectiveness and its aggression.
Those who have doubted this have actually experienced it and have seen the error of their ways with their jaw or their face or their stomach or their leg.
In addition to this we have also (re)incorporated survival training as part of Capoeira training.
We have also endeavored to use various weapons from the short sticks to the ɔbɛnta (berimbau) to the bow and arrow.
I will close with this, people can argue with each other about what Capoeira is and is not.
For my part, I have very specific goals and objectives which I understand influence what Capoeira is to me, how it is relevant to me, how it relates to me and from my own perspective which is valid.
I need to look to no one to know that my perspective is valid and I will also acknowledge any other Afrikan that his/her own perspective is a valid outgrowth of his/her background, experiences and goals.
In time, any and all of our understandings can grow organically-as they will-whether we want them to or not.
This may entail growth on the same path or along new ones.
Nsi yankulu, tambi biampa ‘Old earth, new steps’
At the end of the day what everyone is doing is telling us who they are rather than telling us what Capoeira is regardless of how loudly they shriek that they have the lock on its patented definition.
There is a proverb that states that knowledge is like a baobab tree.
That not one single person’s arms can embrace it.
Capoeira can be seen from a similar perspective.
What it is to me will be vastly different than what it is to you based on your background, your experiences, your goals, your objectives, and your context.
That is fine.
The expressions of Capoeira by Afrikans in Afrika should necessarily be different from those in another locality as should the expression of those with a level of Afrikan consciousness be different from that of an integrationist.
Let other Afrikans use Capoeira however they think it should be used.
However, for those of us who are using it for a particular function in our current context of war, we move forward with our reAfrikanization and dewhitenization project.
No one will stand in our way because no one can.
01-01-2015, 10:17 PMObadele Kambon
Re: Unauthorized Capoeira?
A side issue which is related and may actually be at the root of all this is the notion of authenticity. I see authenticity in relation to spatial and temporal authenticity. Those who see Capoeira as a locational thing (either Angolan, Brazilian or whatever) seem to have the idea that the locale is what lends authenticity to their practice of Capoeira. Thus in Brazil, people who practice Angola may see their art as the legitimate, unbroken tradition having preserved that which came from Angola in its truest form (note that to do so, they must necessarily gloss over known innovations like berimbaus, the use of portuguese, etc.). Those who are in other places may look to Brazil in the same way. That’s the search for spatial authenticity: validation by location.
On the other hand, we have temporal authenticity. That’s those who are located in the supposed place of origin whose claim to legitimacy is in terms of having preserved what has been passed down through time unchanged. This is connected to ritualistic practices.
For the spatial authenticists, the only way to be legitimate is by associating oneself with the locale of authenticity. Again, this is primarily the imperative of “foreigners” (i.e., those who are no longer or never were in the location of validation). For temporal authenticists, the only way to be legitimate is by adhering to the practices of the remote past-the time in which things were done authentically. This is the primary imperative of the “indigenes”. In either case, neither is the authentic manifestation themselves, but is rather looking to a space or time where things were done authentically and attempting to adhere to those practices to the best of their ability whether those practices actually make sense to them or not. Then, you have an overlap of the two which, in this context, is where we find authenticity via lineage (making ones practices traceable to the space AND remote time of the authentic).
The flip side to this is making one’s own location the legitimate place which is done primarily by white Brazilian culture bandits to sever Capoeira’s Afrikan roots and, thus, preempt any and all questions about their right and legitimacy in co-opting it. After all, if it’s Afrikan, what in the world are you doing in it other than your regular run-of-the-mill looting and plundering. One of the quickest and easiest ways of making your time, space and self “legitimate” is by changing the name and calling yourself the inventor of it. Who can challenge the inventor? Thus, disciples of the inventor effectively shift the location and time of authenticity to one much closer and over which they can exert more if not complete control.
I couch all of this in terms of my previous comments with regard to what a person’s goals are. Someone whose primary goals entail being regarded as authentic and legitimate, their behaviors will be commensurate with that objective. They will hold up their cordão and/or mention the names of their Mestres ceaselessly. Their mouths will do the talking more than their Capoeira. Again, what they are doing may not be sensible or logical even to they, themselves, but their notions of adherence to tradition (spatial and temporal) inform all that they do to the same degree that someone’s whose goals are to have cool-looking acrobatics will display behavior in alignment with such objectives (i.e. ceaseless somersaults).
At the end of the day, one’s experiential background (where they are “from”) and one’s goals (where they intend to go) will inform the practitioner’s understanding and manifestation of Capoeira. Thus, whenever someone shouts from the rooftops their definitive version of what Capoeira is (the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth), we may be wise to take it with a grain of salt and shout back “thank you for telling me about yourself” and go back about our merry business. :meialua:
Capoeira Debate with Dr. EP
Published: 19 December 2015
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.