Say hello to www.mandingueira.com!

9 05 2008

Psst…look up at your URL address bar! Notice anything different?

Thanks to a particularly informative post by Raul at hummingbird604.com, I’ve managed to give Mandingueira its very own domain name! No more “.wordpress” clutter (as much as I do love WordPress!). 😀

The best part? No re-linking is involved! Everything is automatically redirected. So for everyone out there who has linked, favourited, bookmarked, or subscribed to me in one way or another (to those who have, please know you have my profuse thanks 🙂 ; to those who haven’t, there’s no time like the present 😉 ), you can relax and—do nothing!

That is, do nothing but from now on tell your friends: “Hey, you’ve gotta check out this brilliant capoeira blog I read. Just go to mandingueira.com!”

p.s. In case you missed it because of the close timing between them, there is another new post under this one!





Brazil: The Father of Capoeira—or the Mother?

8 05 2008

Despite the title, this post is not exactly about how capoeira originated. It’s about something I heard recently, and wanted to…question? Correct? Mostly because I didn’t say anything at the time I heard it, and slightly kind of regret it now; so I’m saying it here!

Capoeira, the child of Africa and Brazil

I was at an event when a mestre (well, okay, my mestre) started talking about capoeira, and partway through he said, “Africa is the mother of capoeira…and Brazil is the father.” At this point there was a rippling of “oohhhhs” and laughter among the students, and a self-satisfied pause at his own joke. But I just wondered…why was that funny/how was it a joke? I thought making the comparison was fine (though inaccurate, as I’ll discuss shortly), but were people laughing because of the idea that Brazil “overpowered” Africa, or seized its flower of capoeira, or something? Because in that case, it really wouldn’t have been funny at all.

As for the comparison itself, first I thought it was fine (without the supposed-to-be-funny part), but thinking upon it further, I realized it was actually wrong. Assuming that the way, way-back roots of capoeira are from Africa (safe general statement #1) and that the actual sport/art as we know it today came to flourish in Brazil (safe general statement #2), then…Africa is actually the father of capoeira, and Brazil is the mother.

Why? Think about it. (Note: This is going to be all based on stereotypes…since that’s how metaphors work.) Africa provided the seed of capoeira, but it was the environment in Brazil that nourished and raised capoeira (even if at one point Brazil actually tried to abort it, but you get what I mean…though even in that respect, to whom do abortions usually apply?). The genes and chromosomes of capoeira came from both Africa and Brazil, but it was inside Brazil where they actually combined and merged and grew into the fully-formed art of capoeira (or as fully-formed as a constantly changing and evolving art can get). The gestation period of capoeira took place in Brazil—that is, Brazil was the womb. And who has those?

So, with all due respect to the mestre…if one insists on making this particular comparison, it’d be more accurate to say that Africa was the father of capoeira, and Brazil the mother. Not the other way around. And that doesn’t mean Brazil is weaker than or has been subjugated by Africa. Just my two cents!

Picture source: http://masscapoeira.com/HistoryofCapoeira.html





Video: “Capoeira Girl” [CGI]

6 05 2008

Watch this video! I came across it the other week and am sharing here it for two reasons:

1. It features a mandingueira, playing a mandingueiro.

2. It’s beautiful!

The graphics are stunning, the capoeiristas themselves are “devastatingly fit” (to quote from the youtube description), the music is haunting, and their game is pure enjoyment to watch. Although it’s mostly kicks and acrobatics (as opposed to more elaborate dialogue, though that might have been hard to create well), Lena at Utopia Films did a really good job. Look out at 1:46 and 1:53 for examples of cintura desprezada!

Of course, I couldn’t help noticing their capoeira cordas as well…I’m assuming, based on the red and the white, that the woman is a contra-mestra and the man is a mestre. Why they couldn’t have both been mestres I don’t know, but I guess for the variety. (And better than a higher level woman being matched with a lower level man, I suppose?) Oh, and apparently the video is an ad for Diet Coke, though it’s subtle (well, kind of)…just ignore that part! 😛

Anyway, the best bit about this video is: It’s supposed to be part 1 of a trilogy! So I will definitely keep an eye out for the rest of the installments and feature them on here once they’re available. (Unless they just included that line in the video for “effect”.) At any rate, for now, press play, and breathe in the music, the motions, the scene…

Update: It has been brought to my attention that this video has actually earlier appeared on another well-known capoeira blog!  So if you like, you can now have the pleasure of watching it twice. 😉





I Dream of Capoeira…

4 05 2008

I dream of capoeira...day and nightYou live capoeira. You breathe capoeira. Is it really any surprise, then, that you dream capoeira as well? Or do you? Dreams are often based on pieces of information we are most preoccupied with at the time, or on fragments of our days, or on hidden yet strong and influencing notions or worries in our subconscious minds. So with all the thinking and feeling we do for capoeira nearly everyday, how can some of it not follow when you enter the Sandman’s soporific realm?

Here are three dreams that I’ve had about capoeira:

It’s daytime, and I’m in a line-up in the usual training room at the community centre I train at. It’s a long line-up that winds across the room to the door, and leads to a table at which my two teachers are sitting. People are lining up for…their apelidos. They arrive at the table, are given their nickname, it’s recorded on paper, and they leave. I finally reach the table, and am given my name: “Toca” or “Tugada” or something similiar-sounding. “What does that mean?” “Little Penguin.” [Note: I looked it up afterwards when I woke up and the words don’t match up at all…would’ve been amazing if they’d had!] I feel disappointed because I knew the person in line right in front of me had been named “Penguin” and I’d wanted my apelido to be unique.

~

I dream that I’ve returned home from travelling, and bring with me friends I’ve made along the way. These friends are also capoeiristas, but from a different group than my own. We arrive just in time for my group’s batizado, and the first person we see is one of my regular teachers. He’s not too thrilled about the new capoeiristas, but quickly gets over it, and we all go to the public show our group is putting on. When the show starts, to my shock, one of my new capoeira friends has been put into the percussion band by someone. However, he keeps messing up…and I desperately want someone to replace him so the show can go on and because he’s making his own group look bad, but no one does.

~

There is a big meeting with everyone in my capoeira group in the city, and it is announced that due to some sort of emergency, every teacher and every advanced student in the group must immediately fly to London, England, for an indefinite period of time. This leaves myself, a first-belt student, and another woman, also a first-belt student, in charge of our class at the community centre. I’m completely panicked, but one of my teachers who’s leaving says we’ll be fine.

~

Those are the three capoeira dreams I remember most, though I’ve had many others! I hope you enjoyed that voyeuristic peek into my crazy subconscious mind. Have you ever dreamt about capoeira? Share with us in the Comments!

Picture source: http://pics.novica.com/pictures/2/p110363_1.jpg





Respect in Capoeira: How Much is Too Much?

2 05 2008

When it comes to respect—or rather, respecting hierarchy—in capoeira, how much is too much? How do you tell what is just capoeira, just context or politeness, and what is pure ridiculousness or taking things too far?

This post is slightly related to the “What is the Role of a Capoeira Mestre?” one, only looking at how students and mestres are specifically treated in capoeira groups. Before going on, I should clarify that in the headline, “respect” refers more to things done in the name of respect. There are two main issues here: 1) Just how much respect should be shown a mestre/mestra, and in what ways, before it goes too far? and 2) Respect in capoeira should go both ways.

1. Respecting Mestres

When your group’s mestre comes to town, how are they treated? Are they everyone’s pal, going around the room to shake every person’s hand, joking with beginners and graduadas alike, or is it as if your little academy village is hosting the Royal Entourage for a week, student serfs lining up to greet the king or queen, your normally alpha male and female teachers reduced to vassals and footrunners?

Eating before Mestre does feels weird/wrong…it’s not about protocol; it’s about respect.”

Although these are slightly two extremes (slightly), the examples I’ve seen are really not too far off. And seeing such contrasts makes me wonder if the concept of “royalty” has a place in capoeira at all, if it’s taking respect too far? For instance, I can understand that at a group meal in a restaurant, it would be polite and a sign of respect to let the mestre order first. However, is it still right if the mestre becomes engaged in an hour-long conversation, and his students are still not allowed to order until he does?

In another case, is it okay, right, or normal to expect that, during meals, a mestra sits there while a student or teacher fetches her food for her? Would it be considered too “plebian” for the mestra to get her food on her own, or is that just simple hospitality and accomodation on the part of the event’s host teacher?  It is not as if capoeira students would suddenly lose respect for a mestra who couldn’t snap her fingers and send people to fetch a drink or cutlery for her; in fact, the opposite is probably true.

How much “respect”, privilege, hospitality and accomodating at others’ expense, or going-out-of-one’s-way, is reasonable before one’s capoeira group could be mistaken for a cult of personality? And if the mestre or mestra comes to expect this attitude and attention, do they have the right to?

2. Respect is a two-way street.

In response to the questions above, some—or many—people would say that the mestre/mestra deserves it all, purely by virtue of what they have done and accomplished. I agree that they deserve respect and admiration for their accomplishments (provided that they are also good people who have managed to keep their feet on the ground), but there is a limit as well, and you will know when you’ve hit it by keeping in mind that simple respect between human beings should go both ways.

You know that saying, “My rights end where your rights begin”? I think the same concept applies here: “Respect” for high-ranking people in capoeira should end where disrespect for capoeira students begins.

“You wait for Mestre; Mestre doesn’t wait for you.”

For example, it is always stressed that students arrive on time for class, rodas, workshops, and events, and they usually get in trouble for being late. This is fair, makes sense, etc. Showing up on time shows you respect your teacher, the rest of the class, and everyone’s time, while being late implies you don’t (whether or not that is actually the case). Likewise, it’s fair enough to expect mestres and teachers will sometimes (or always) be late, especially during big capoeira events (read: logistical nightmares).

However, something is off when students are threatened with push-ups for being five minutes late so they show up on time, but then are kept waiting for 1-2 hours for the mestre to arrive so things can begin. I mentioned this to one of my non-capoeira friends the other day, and even then it didn’t hit me how extreme that actually is in the context of real life, until she stopped and stared at me in shock and possibly even a bit of horror.

Because it’s true, if you think about it—where or when else in life ever is it acceptable to keep someone waiting for 1-2 hours? I was an hour late for my friend once (ahh, it’s contagious!) and was actually almost scared to show up at all, because she was (rightly) in a more or less homocidal state by then, and in the end I baked her a batch of rice krispie squares to make it up to her. Has your mestre/mestra ever given you a batch of rice krispie squares for being 1-2 hours late? Come to think of it, have you even ever received so much as an apology?

“Yes in capoeira we have high belts and low belts and students and mestres, but outside of capoeira we’re all people, all human beings.”

If you think about it, making a group of people stand around waiting for 1-2 hours at every roda and event isn’t really a way of having them show extreme respect for the mestre, or it’s a completely unecessary way to show/ensure respect (and those who disagree need to ask themselves why their mestre is so insecure), but is really just blatant disrespect for the students and their time. Since we’re just lowly, star-struck capoeira students so obviously we have nothing else better to do in our lives than stand around waiting for two hours at a time.

Let’s see, that’s…dishes/laundry done and apartment cleaned, or half a book read, or half an afternoon’s work (and wages), or one blog post written, or one kid’s doctor’s appointment, or one or two job applications, or an exam crammed for, or a short date with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or a thesis outlined, or taxes done, or a car fixed…the list goes on. But of course, none of that is important if it means you’ll be on time for Mestre/Mestra, even if they have absolutely no compunction to even try being anywhere near on time themselves.

Moreover, late students don’t matter because the mestre/mestra doesn’t have to wait at all; they have every right to start the roda once they arrive, and too bad for the late students. However, it doesn’t work the other way around because students aren’t allowed to start the roda on their own.

Yes, a mestre/mestra probably does have dibs over students on not being kept waiting, but in fact, neither side should be expected to wait as long as capoeira students often are. Mestres and students should respect each other’s time. This is just one example of two-way respect in capoeira (or lack thereof) that I’ve gone into pretty deeply here, but I’m sure there are others.

“…as always, a lack of respect by teachers for their young students…”

All of the pull-quotes in this post are things I’ve heard said in capoeira, and this last one struck me for such an important reason that I felt compelled to write about it: it was the first and only time in my two and a half years of doing capoeira that I’d EVER heard someone talk about students in capoeira needing to be respected, instead of needing to respect.

That was definitely a wake-up call for me, and what inspired a lot of the other thoughts in this post.

Students have a responsibility to respect their teachers and mestres, but don’t mestres have a responsibility back to their students? Even if the capoeira world is slightly off-kilter from the “normal” world, aren’t we all still entitled to the same common courtesty and simple respect? Because the last time I checked, capoeira students are people, and mestres/mestras are people, too.





RSS Awareness Day: Are You Subscribed?

1 05 2008

Today, in the blogosphere, is RSS Awareness Day. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, and is a tool people use that gathers all of their favourite blogs and those blogs’ post updates in one place for you to read.

Click on this button to subscribe to Mandingueira!

If you look on this page’s sidebar, you’ll see an orange logo: wherever you see that, there is an RSS feed (constantly updated collection of that blog’s posts) for the blog available for subscription.

So today’s question is: Will you subscribe to Mandingueira?

If you enjoy my posts or find them interesting, please subscribe! You can subscribe using RSS by clicking on the orange logo above or the “Subscribe” button in the sidebar, or you can receive Mandingueira in your inbox by clicking on the “By email” button, also in the sidebar. Subscribing means you will be automatically updated on every new post, and if a certain Comments discussion catches your attention, you can subscribe to receive comment updates in specific posts, as well.

Now, what are you waiting for? Please click here to subscribe by RSS, or click here to subscribe by email, and thank you!