Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Joy of Capoeira" - Mestre Cajiquinha

"I am the joy of capoeira,
In capoeira I am the joy"
~Mestre Cajiquinha


I came across an e-book titled "Joy of Capoeira" which records an interview with the legendary Mestre Cajiquinha who popularised Capoeira Angola. I'm just halfway into reading it but i just thought i'd share a few paragraphs with you guys to ponder over:

Capoeira is fight, sport, a plaything…
For Canjiquinha, capoeira is preferably playfulness. Even better if there is an audience
watching. In the roda, doing ginga in front of his partner, he often plays a joke (giving the
volta ao mundo around himself). The opponent/friend follows the rules of this
playfulness to the letter. Any initiation of an attack will be neutralized by a backwards
chapa. The game is planned – inherited from the double-dealings and simulated combats
in the rings of free-fighting, vale-tudo, and Greco-roman fighting that the mestre
practiced in the 1950s and 60s.
A new joke. He stops, lifts his eyes. The audience applauds. Canjiquinha is the king.
Canjiquinha is a happy boy. (I only want honor when I’m alive because after I’m dead it
doesn’t interest me). He generously repays the applause by unrolling his spool of
varieties: capoeira, puxada de rede, maculelĂȘ, samba duro, samango, bolero, muzenza,
self-defense, jokes, Vicente Celestino. Doing things that God would doubt that he could
do. More applause, more things: unforgettable moments to last one’s whole life.
But, every volta ao mundo around oneself has its risks. The opponent is not always
cooperative. The result: a movement given just for flourish is curbed by a very well
performed arm-lock, as a punishment – a warning that capoeira is a serious thing. The
rule of playfulness was broken. Canjiquinha protests and makes a huge fuss. He defends
himself by saying that fight capoeira is for enemies and that, in the roda, it’s for playing
with one’s friends and companions.

IN THE OLD DAYS – Capoeira was more beautiful, it was danced.
TODAY – It is more violent. It is commercial.
EXPLANATION – There was no karate, there was no judo.
COMMENTARY – I was a contra-mestre of Pastinha, in 1950. That Japanese guy came
to take pictures. We would stand still. He was there making marks, marking the positions.
Later, karate appeared here in Bahia. Then, capoeira’s popularity decreased, decreased.
Then, the youngest capoeiristas sought to make violence. So that capoeira could be
shown to be more violent than karate. Capoeira stayed in this aggression. Because of this,
it grew too much. Because if it had stayed that beautiful to-and-fro game, then karate
would have won out. You see that five years ago all anyone talked about was karate.
But today, all everyone talks about is capoeira.

Do you think this change was necessary?
Is violence necessary in capoeira?
“No. Here’s the thing: If you’re inside the academy, training with your colleague, there is
no violence. You can even train fast. Now, if you’re playing in the street, and the guy
resorts to violence, then you have to resort to violence as well. An academy teaches you
to play capoeira, it doesn’t teach you to fight. Now, in the street you have to resort to
what you know if the person disrespects you. Sometimes, you’re alone… you have to
resort to what you know, right?"

I'll keep on reading and share with you any other pearls of wisdom i can find :) Hopefully i can pick your brains as well as the previous resident Capoeirista Philosopher.


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