“Nobody Can Say!”: The “Roda” That Is Capoeira Arguments

7 07 2008

“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.”

Capoeira is like philosophy. And I don’t mean it’s like a philosophy, as in “the philosophy of capoeira”. Capoeira is like the entire field of philosophy—at least when it comes to the discussions.

Who can say?  Maybe somewhere in the stars...

It struck me shortly after I came back home and finally broke it to my capoeira group (read: teachers) that I’d been training with another group in France. (I’d kept it a secret during all of last year…slightly long story there. But I digress.) What I then found amusing (as well as not so amusing) about the whole thing was how each side of the pond so readily disdained the other, even though I love and esteem both. And they all have their not-unreasonable explanations, including for why they’re each superior to a separate third group—who, I have no doubt, considers itself better than my two!

As one of my teachers pointed out, “…and it’s all opinion anyway! Maybe you think this capoeira group is better, but I think that capoeira group is better. Everyone has their own preference.” Most capoeiristas recognize this, yet many capoeira groups still claim, for one reason or another, to be the best (or at least pretty darn up there). It’s funny because with every capoeira group touting their own superiority, their claims kind of all cancel each other out, and so in the end it comes right back down to personal opinion anyway. After all, at least when it comes to capoeira style and capoeira philosophy, nobody can say!

Similarly, about a week later, I got into a conversation about fights breaking out in capoeira, and capoeiristas who “play” really to fight other group’s capoeiristas, and ended up saying something like, “It’s not capoeira!” (Since “just dancing” isn’t capoeira, so it’s okay to say “just fighting” isn’t capoeira either, right?) After I said that though, another one of my capoeira teachers ended it with the inevitable line: “But what is capoeira? Nobody can say.”

And therein lies the crux of the whole thing. Capoeira reminds me of philosophy because no matter how much capoeiristas—like philosophers—talk and discuss and debate and rationalize their respective arguments, you can almost never come to any ultimate conclusion because—who can say?! What can be proven?? No one capoeirista has enough authority or knowledge to decide for all, and for better or worse, Newton concentrated his efforts on gravity rather than capoeira when making his laws.

I think one of my friends from first-year put it best (paraphrased from memory): “The thing about philosophy [or in our case, capoeira] is that you can spend hours and hours talking and going through arguments and making your points, but in the end none of it matters because nobody can prove any of it anyway!”

Although that doesn’t quite work, either (clearly it matters some, or this blog wouldn’t exist!), I just found the irony or circularness (hence “roda”) of it all amusing. So sue me! ūüėõ

Picture source (modified):
http://s272.photobucket.com/albums/jj161/masterplats3/





FICA Women’s Conference 2008 (Washington, DC)

14 03 2008

Welcome to everyone from FICA or from the FICA Women’s Conference!¬†

I think it’s so cool that you got to be involved in something like that (I’m sorry I couldn’t make it), and thank you for coming by!¬† If you just found the link to my blog through the conference website, or found me through a recommendation (thank you, Shayna!), please check out my “Best Of” page, browse through the archives, or if you wish to zero in on the “women in capoeira” parts,¬†then¬†this post (a round-up all of such articles on my blog) will be the¬†perfect starting point for you.¬† I hope¬†you enjoy your stay, and come back soon!¬†

For everyone else, last weekend, FICA held a women’s conference in Washington, DC, and by all accounts I’ve heard so far it was amazing.¬† What I liked about this event (even though I unfortunately couldn’t make it) was that it wasn’t just a “women’s-only for the sake of it” event, but it was for men and women, but about women, and women in capoeira.¬†

Special guests at the FICA Capoeira Women's Conference! 

One of the most interesting and possibly valuable parts of this conference, I thought, was the discussion panels that it involved, since how often does that kind of thing happen in the midst of all our regular training and playing?  The breadth of topics covered was engaging and enlightening (as far as I could tell, from afar!), and led to ideas for some real-world, material results.  Check out a full write-up on the conference at their official website/blog, with pictures (including the one above), a slideshow, and what came out of all the discussions!  (It goes over several posts, so make sure you keep scrolling down to read.)

Click here to read the FICA Women’s Conference
Wrap-Up and Discussion Ideas

p.s. As you may have noticed, I’ve started to make some headway on the comments!¬†¬†I have¬†yet to respond to the¬†ones under “What is the Role of a Capoeira Mestre?”¬†because altogether they’d take a little more¬†time than the others and I wanted to do them justice.¬† In the meantime, you guys have been awesome, and add so much to this blog,¬†so thank you and¬†keep ’em coming!