Perspective in Capoeira: Falling Behind on the Journey

16 04 2008

How much does it matter? Does it matter? Why?

Normally, people love what they are good at; conversely, you are usually good at what you love. Writers write, actors act, graphic designers design graphics, and soccer players play soccer. Academics excel in academics, and mechanics know their mechanisms. Passion and motivation are all you need to carry yourself to great heights in what you love, at least according to Chicken Soup for the Soul, et al.

What perspective do you take on capoeira?Of course, capoeira, being the malicious trickster it is, doesn’t care what Chicken Soup or the rules say. That’s one of the things that I always thought was awesome about capoeira; you didn’t necessarily have to be good at it to feel like you were getting somewhere, and anyone could fall victim to “capoeira fever” (to quote a friend), whether they were a beginner or athletic or not.

But after a certain point, sucking at something you love kind of…well…sucks. This is what’s been bothering me lately, and where perspective comes in, but first, some background: My friends and I have been training at different places for the past eight months due to geography, and seeing one of them this past weekend made it very, very obvious that we’ve been progressing at devastatingly different rates. I can’t do half—no, make that any of—the things they do, and I started a year before. I blame (rightly or not) where I’ve been training for not being hardcore enough in comparison to my old place, not intense enough, not pushing their students enough, but am blasting myself for the same things. It’s not like I haven’t been training (on the contrary, although I may as well not have been), but what if I’d pushed myself just that much harder each class, that much further, not let myself become that much more complacent?

And though I’m still upset, after talking to a non-capoeira friend about it, I also have to ask…why? Why do we get upset about capoeira if we still enjoy it while we’re doing it? Is there a point to it? Does it make our lives better?

On the one hand, this kind of dissatisfaction is good in the way that it can motivate you to really train harder and be determined to rev it up. (Although if you’re me, that in turn only leads to a sprained toe. Ah, irony, my dear old friend.) But if you put it into the context of your life overall…is there a point? If you enjoy capoeira and you enjoy going to class and training and playing in the roda, then can’t you just enjoy what you are doing, instead of getting upset about what you could be doing? That’s how I used to view capoeira. That is, I knew before I started that I wasn’t athletic at all and didn’t have much hope of really getting good, so my overall outlook every class was basically to not expect anything, so everything I did do was a happy surprise.

This also reminds me of what Xixarro said after “The Battle Between Capoeira and Everything Else“, about just enjoying capoeira while you’re there and not worrying about what’s not there (like extra time to train, or I guess in this case, actual capoeira skills).

But isn’t a capoeirista who doesn’t esquiva fast enough, kick high enough, can’t jump, has too little balance, not enough malĂ­cia, needs more control, hopeless at floreios (even if they are auxiliary, but definitely expected in my group, and the bar for them just keeps getting higher)…just like a writer who lacks vocabulary, spells things wrong, forgets punctuation, can’t structure paragraphs, and doesn’t even have very much to write about?

But again: if you enjoy it anyway, and doing capoeira makes your life better nevertheless…then does it matter?

p.s. In no way do I actually think this does not matter; I hate that my progress is practically non-existent and that I can’t do anything, especially while everyone else I know is zooming by on rocket-powered cordas. This is another “thought experiment” and just to see what other people, i.e. you guys, think. Or maybe you can convince me that it really does not matter and I should lighten up/stop thinking too much/look on the bright side/don’t worry?