Re: (Capoeira) Don't know what's going on
Don - There is a lot of different types of capoeira. Some general info - capoeira is referred to as a game. In that sense, it is teaching a body of cultural knowledge that goes back to African dance and sports aesthetic - that you defeat your opponent through style, grace, and - - - embarassment. Similar to street basketball, break-dance wars, whatever.
Secondly, capoeira was an education for people surviving on the bottom - it is one of the few martial arts that was for an oppressed class of people. What you learn in the ring (roda) is for life - until recently, as a black man (or rarely until recently, woman) in a society that dominated and oppressed one terribly. You learn what is called malicia (which reads like malice, but is far closer to the trickster, like coyote - not good, not evil - just surviving).
In the usual level of the game, you win when you dump the opponent on the ground (some great players always played in a three piece white suit, to show their confidence), or out of the ring. More intense games eschew the headstands, etc., and become closer and closer to a fight.
Finally, one may notice that the attacks are with the feet (and/or) the head. The hands are not "used," but they are busy. The "gokui," is that you have (or used to have) a blade in one or both hands. I know a practitioner who does everything you see in the video with a straight razor in each hand, flipping them open and closed as he flips his body.
Until recently, when guns took over the favelas, capoeira was the martial art of the poor - Brazilian jujutsu, with it's ethic of one-on-one fights on the ground, was the middle class/rich boy martial art. In the ring, no question that BJJ would and did win. But to survive on cobblestone streets, with blades and bricks flying, as well as a fascist police that would never take your side, capoeira was what helped such folks survive.
The video, btw, is Capoeira Regional, a modern development of the 20th century - more upright postures, focus on speed and athleticism. The older form, Capoeira Angola, is often slower, close to the ground, and more subtle. But this stuff has as much debate as early battles of doctrine in Christianity.
Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 12-27-2008 at 07:01 PM.