Friday, May 28, 2010

Thoughts from my mental roda

I played capoeira for a solid 4 and a half years. Hard core got into it. Four, sometimes five, times a week.

I learned not only to do the kicks and combos but also to embrace a holistic way of thinking. Because capoeira is not just about the Eddie Gordo moves you see in video games. It is also about music and dance and energy. A game is not just two people in the middle of the roda. That game is dictated by the bateria, it gets its energy for the people surrounding the players... and the singers and bateria get their energy from the back-and-forth flow of the players. It all goes round and round. Axe. Ie. The fact that I developed a four pack was a bonus I gladly accepted. ;)

So, back to what I was planning to say. I played capoeira for 4 and a half years. And then, I stopped. For many very different but substantial reasons, I stopped playing. For four years. And now, for reasons way too personal for a public blog, I am back. Back to reclaim the axe. Back to reclaim Pretinha. At least, that's the plan.

It isn't easy. I am easily frustrated with myself. Moves that were once as natural as breathing - the martelo rotado, the meia lua de compasso, the simple act of a bananeira - now elude me. My brain remembers the mechanics but my body is not at a stage where it can cooperate.

The first time I held a pandeiro again, I could barely play it for more than a few minutes. I used to be able to hold that pandeiro for entire rodas. I don't even want to try picking up a berimbau yet during the roda for fear that my hand will cramp and I will ruin the melody. And when my joints start to hurt, vestigial reminders of my recent bout with viral arthritis, I can hear the small voice of Kagey in my head go "Dammit." I reluctantly remove myself from training to rest, catch my breath, wait for the swelling to subside. Same thing when I get dizzy and have to find the nearest source of air so I don't faint. I don't remember it being this difficult. I really don't.
And yet, I am so happy to be back. With every ginga, with every note of the bateira, with every shuffle of the samba... I can feel axe pouring back into my body. I am thankful to my camaras, to Fantasma, and to the new EBC students who have been so supportive of my return to the roda. Thank you for not only the encouragement but also the patience.

My body is still recovering. I know that.
I am expected to still be weak and get tired. I know that.
Slowly, slowly... it will all come back. I know that.

At the end of the day, I can move... I have almost full mobility again... and for that I should be thankful. Only a few months ago, I couldn't close my hands into fists and had to walk by shuffling my feet like a geriatric. So yes, I remind myself every day, to be grateful for the use of my body again.

"Meu Deus, muito obrigado, pela capoeira eu pode jogar."
Today is Day 5 of the EBC Summer Workshops with visiting Profs Pimbal and Sapo giving special classes. The Bacolod students have arrived. Tomorrow there is a public demo at BSide at 5pm which goes straight into this party featuring Brigada and some other musical guests. I have a feeling the axe is going to be through the roof.

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