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  Topic: Define capoeira to someone who isn't familiar?
  2006-08-27 00:44:09
Hey everyone.
We had some cool responses come up from the other topic so here's another one we could try...

How would you define capoeira to someone who isn't familiar to it? What would you describe about it that would give it a depth beyond what it seems on first appearance. eg. that dance/martial art from Brazil.

This topic could give us opportunties to share ides to use when people ask about capoeira and when we get caught up trying to lead these people onto an understanding with slight depth.

What are some of the common questions people ask about capoeira?

To partly answer my first question, a definition given from one of Nestor Capoeira's book (Roots of the dance,fight,game) mentions this:

"it is a dance for fighters and a fight for dancers"

I also like some of the definitions brabo has used on this website on the "our capoeira page" (2nd paragraph)

Any other thoughts?

Thanks for your time
  2006-08-28 14:20:21
Yeah, I think that the second paragraph of the "Our Capoeira" page really sums it up nicely. The one thing that I might add if I got into a conversation with someone who was new to Capoeira and wanted to know about some of the depth involved is that Capoeira is an art form that reflects and symbolically simulates the struggle and challenges inherent in life itself.

The most common questions about capoeira (other than "what is it?") that I've encountered are:
- Is it a practical martial art? / Can you use it in a fight? (I'm really sick of this one)
- Is it like breakdancing? / Was it influenced by breakdancing? / Was it an influence on breakdancing?
- Is it Brazilian or African?
- Is it religious?

I've found that when someone new to capoeira asks one of these questions, short answers are not usually adequate, but when I give a long answer it usually evokes a response of a yawn, a look of bewilderment or a total lack of comprehension of anything I said. On the other hand, some of these questions can make for good conversations with people who have been in Capoeira for a little while.

  2006-09-02 12:52:18
I guess thats the mysteriousness within capoeira,
The in-ability to grasp it entirely without including what is also possible.
An endless expression of possibilities.

Eu quero aprende.

  2006-09-29 15:00:33
What if we added a FAQ section to the website to answer those questions answers that get bandied around?
  2006-10-05 15:55:20
palhaco good idea ...now whos gona do that? hummmmmmmmmm?
  2006-10-05 16:07:35
I thought the point of this message board is to ask all those FAQ's.
Judging by some of the discussion that has been going down in other threads the answers to those questions are never as simple a few lines.
However it might fuel more discussion anyway.

Can't make up my own mind on that one.
  2006-10-06 09:26:48
I agree that this is a place for discussion (or potshots, it seems) and most of the threads that I've read seem to center around the questions that ZigueZague posted above.

When I first began capoeira I asked myself those same questions; it might be the same for others. Perhaps we could add a page that attempted to address those questions?

Though I know little about Capoeira I'm happy to do a draft; more experienced players can laugh at it then improve it :)
  2006-10-14 11:02:34
I think it was Mestre Acordeon who describes capoeira as: a play on two people killing each other...
I really like that thought and find it an open point to explain to people about what capoeira is...
  2006-10-14 11:21:18
An improvised play.
A play with no script a cast of 2
A director
A musical score

Could it be called a musical though?

I'm sure there are more parallels to be drawn from that one.
Very nice Feiticeiro.
  2006-10-14 11:35:32
More possible parallels:
An audience watching to see how the story unfolds
Somewhat of a narrative, with the initial approach, which heats up to a climactic point and ultimately the resolution ending with a handshake
Our general roda structure tends to play out as a whole play too, with the opening act of the Ladainha and Lovacoes, then the middle act with all the chapters or scenes or whatever i.e. the games between people, which introduce all the characters and develop them as their games progress and they move onto music etc., until it all builds up to the grand finale with Boa Noite/Adeus Adeus. Then um, dois, tres... Ax�! [cue curtain] hee hee.

Hmm, that's all I can think of for now. But yeah, it's a cool concept. Musical perhaps, except that the music is continuous, but then the only other option is opera, and it's not really one of those either, lol.
  2006-10-14 23:06:34
Maybe a backstage musical cause capoeirsita always like to get changed in front of every one.
  2006-10-20 08:16:23
"What if we added a FAQ section to the website to answer those questions answers that get bandied around?"

Anyone still interested in this? I've finished a few mindmaps; is it worth going ahead and drafting an FAQ?
  2006-10-20 13:14:01
Capoeira the Musical - on broadway - by Andrew L... Somebody

Capoeira the Opera - complete with tragic betrayal finale
  2006-11-06 14:20:26
I found this on a site about Mestra Jararaca, thought it was quite an interesting perspective on defining capoeira:

"Capoeira plays havoc with our need for a world that is cut up and conveniently classified. Say what Capoeira is, and you say what it is not. Say it is slam-bam, in-you-face rumbling, much like a martial art, and it is not; it is good-natured play. Say it is dancing, and you’re wrong; it is struggle, a ludic form of struggle. Say it involves instruments and singing, and it is not only that; it is much more. Say it is frivolous play, and you’re off the mark again; from another perspective, it is serious business. Say it is fine-tuned acrobatics, and it’s also something else; it is on the spot creativity. Say it is a matter of brute strength, and, you guessed it; it is more than that; it is finesse. Say it is strictly rule-governed, and it is; but that’s not all it is, for it involves constant spontaneity. Well, then, you say it is nothing but improvisation, and you’re both right and wrong, for there are rules that must be followed within the improvisation. Capoeira is never either the one thing or the other; it is always both, and neither."

  2006-11-06 14:36:48
This seems like the Taoist thought that the Tao that can be defined is not the Tao. Or the Christian concept of God as trinity: Father; Son; Holy Spirit; Christian orthodox dogma states that the three co-exist and that none can exist without the other.

This parallels where I'm at with my thinking about Capoeira: that the dance, fight, and game coexist and are intertwined. My question, though, is: Can we remove one element and still have what we broadly call Capoeira?
  2006-11-06 17:56:40
That's a good question I suppose. To me it seems that capoeira needs all three elements in order to still be what a capoeirista knows as capoeira. It may be different to an outsider perspective though.

If you remove the dance aspect, I feel like it would make the music redundant, and that the capoeira would lose all of it's expression. If you take out the fight aspect, I think it would eliminate the element of danger, which, based on the previous discussion we've had around the place here, is pretty necessary for the overall dynamic of our capoeira, and to bring out the best in peoples games etc. And as for the game, without the game aspect, every song that mentions the word jogar or anything related to it would be nullifed. I think there's a reason why it's such a core element/philosophy, and hence comes up so often in songs, or just generally. The concept of the game leads to all the other core concepts of capoeira; malicia, vadiagem etc. And I believe it's a crucial and balancing link between the dancing and fighting elements.

So, it seems to me that without any given one of these 3 main elements, you wouldn't have capoeira. Though, as I mentioned, maybe to an outsider, a game of flashy movements incorporating the dance and game elements, but without the fight, would still be what they'd consider capoeira. Or in the same way, the other two combinations: dance and fight with less game, and fight and game with less dance, might also look like capoeira to them. It's hard to say now though, having more of an inside perspective myself.

Hmm, I guess, from another perspective, I guess it depends on your definition of 'broadly' :)
  2006-11-06 21:51:26
Capoeira is life compressed into a small circle. It's the most intensive collaberation of emotions and elements all put into play at once. It's a close interaction in every manner of the movement and the voice and finding out the limits. All have a chance to stand up. All have the chance to sing and to play. All have the chance to express an individual form of expression while still being part of a group. It's not an environment where we try to gain the advantage. We make each other look good. We enforce the rules when needed to stay true to the art but we play with a light heart and with childs play in mind.
  2006-11-06 22:47:52
I think I used the adverb in the wrong place. Perhaps it would be better to shift it and say instead, "Can we remove one element and still broadly have what we call Capoeira?"

I think this changes the meaning.
  2006-11-06 23:21:48
Hmm, I'm not sure, I still feel kinda the same way in response to that. At least the first part I went through anyway; I didn't get as far as to think about the 'depending on your definition of broadly' bit :)
  2006-11-07 14:33:20
Light has a wave-particle duality; perhaps Capoeira is like light?
  2006-11-07 18:35:27
Capoeira is Freedom. Is freedom of spirit and of body expression as well. Is symbolic lenguage. You can express your thoughts, your feelings, your state of mind through it. Is the belief in Positive energy circulating in Roda.
  2006-11-08 16:34:49
Rastinha, that's one of the best quotes I've ever read about the nature of Capoeira, can you give me the www address of the site that you found it on? I really think that it expresses the ambiguous nature of capoeira very well.
  2006-11-08 17:09:41
Sure ZZ, this is the page it's directly off:


It's not a particularly comprehensive site or anything, mostly just thoughts of a student of Mestra Jararaca I think (and the page design is a bit iffy to read at times, crazy as wallpaper behind green text and such). There's some good comments on there, but that was the main one that caught my eye.

  2006-11-08 17:37:56
Yeah, cheers Rastinha, I actually just found it myself with a quick search on Mestra Jararaca, but thanks anyway. I was slightly surprised to see that it was a quote from a student of Jararaca not Jararaca herself (no info on there about who that student is), and also surprised after doing a quick search on Mestra Jararaca to realise that I actually met her in Salvador when I visited Mestre Curio's roda. I had a game with Mestre Curio at the end of the roda that lasted about 30 seconds (if that) in which he totally bewildered me with his creative and original style/eccentric and wild gesticulating. Earlier in the roda, Mestra Jararaca was the only one to really give him a good solid game by more or less responding in kind. Definitely a sight to remember.
  2006-11-08 22:41:23
Yeah Brilliant quote that one Rastinha.

Thought i might add this.

Capoeira pronounced with a slient 'r'. Which stands for rhythm, ritual and respect.

Yeah Curio is so unpredictable, a bloody nightmare arrrghh!
  2006-11-09 00:15:46
Awesome, she sounds pretty cool. I tried looking for more information on her, but haven't managed to find much as of yet. Shall keep my eyes peeled though.
  2006-12-29 10:46:10
HERE DEFINE CAPOEIRA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira
  find more about%
  2007-10-03 02:30:38
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