Friday, August 22, 2008

Esquiva, Pôrra!

First up, don't use the word 'pôrra'. It is a very naughty Brazilian Portuguese word.

You had to click it, didn't you? Anyway, this is my little meditation on the esquiva (literally, 'dodge', probably from the same Latin root as 'escape'). Basically what I want to say is that the esquiva is a dodge that lets you control space. Now if you understand this, you can skip the rest of this post. If you don't, and you actually think I might be saying something important (silly you), then read on.

Mestre Acordeon (1993. Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form. pp:175) says,

This sphere [the movements of a capoeirista] envelops the energy of the fighters and the best capoeirista controls the inner space [of the roda]. His or her opponent must be handled carefully, as if inside a bubble of gelatin that needs to be moved around intact. An abrupt movement of attack that is mistimed will shatter the harmony of the jôgo. A centrifugal movement made too fast or a startled defense could break that surface tension of the sphere, making control of the game difficult. Experienced capoeiristas will make the jôgo flow smoothly event at a fast speed while attempting to control the action.

No prizes for guessing Mestre Acordeon's interpretation of the objective is control. But how does one control space when one has to back off from incoming kicks?!

Ah hah! Enter the esquiva! Sorry, one more quote (Capoeira, Nestor.
Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game, p. 240):

As the late mestre Canjiquinha revealed to us once, “You can block the blow of a very strong man but you can’t block a truck at 100 mph.”

Yes, sound advice indeed. I think I read this somewhere (I'm not sure where), the esquiva is the corporeal manifestation of the slave's resistance modality (yes, that is what we Arts majors do--mystify the mundane and obfuscate the obvious with verbose verbiage). Already... enslaved (my diction is not very powderful), the slave's only method of resistance was through indirect subterfuge, deliberately misunderstanding instructions, faking stupidity and incompetence. It was a way of not giving in without direct confrontation of power-in which case he would surely lose. It is the feigning of a lack of power (intellectual or otherwise) that gave him his... 'space'.

'So what on earth has this to do with bettering my game, pôrra?' you might ask. Well, the esquiva is what allows you to avoid a direct confrontation (usually of shin-to-shin-which--
let me assure you--hurts like crap). But when we start to learn it, we usually esquiva away from the attack, sometimes even backing straight out. Over time, we learn to esquiva at the 3 or 9 o'clock positions (12 noon is straight in front).

And then we stop.

I think that it is important to learn to esquiva into the movement (not into the attack!). Take space even as you move defensively. Esquiva diagonally into the half-past 10 and 1 o'clock positions. If the objective is a control of space, you want to occupy as large a sector of the roda as possible while cramping (choking) your opponent.

And an esquiva is not just an esquiva. EVERYTHING is an esquiva when you think about it. But then again, everything is a ginga too. Before I wax poetic, let me just say that breaking the ginga and 'running around' a compasso (a la Bryan) is also, basically, an 'esquiva'. A 'dodge' that lets you avoid a confrontation while gaining space for yourself. So is faking an armada and then hopping (esquiva-ing) over your opponent, or faking a compasso with a giro and going under a kick.

Yes, basically what I want to say is that the esquiva is a dodge that lets you control space.

And if you understood this sentence, you wouldn't have had to read my gibberish in the first place.
Stay Sexy,

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