"Everything that women do is more beautiful."
- Mestra Cigana
Was talking to Ying Wen after training on Tue night, and the topic turned to why there isn't a lot of girls in Zambiacongo sub-clubs - whether HQ, NUS, SMU or ITE, despite it being such a great way to keep fit (Read: lose weight ;p ). A curious thing indeed.. I used to accept it as a given- there's just few girls playing capoeira in general.. but talking to Mestre Luiz, I discovered there are more girls than guys in Zambiacongo Australia. Can't help analyzing this 'phenomenon' in my mind, and here's the result.
Common excuses why girls don't do capoeira, why -in my view- they shouldn't be excuses:
1. Capoeira is a martial arts, and hence it is un-feminine, harsh, unsuitable for girls.
Well, I think capoeira is actually one of the few martial arts very suitable for girls since it balances the 'fight' part with the 'play' and 'dance' elements. In fact, what attracts me to it is also how graceful and lithe female capoeiristas are.. certainly a lot more feminine compared to a female karateka or judoka. OK, I'm biased towards capoeira, but I strongly maintain that capoeira is one of the few martial arts that give females (and males, for that matter) a chance to develop their own playing style, which can be as feminine or masculine as they'd like it to be.
2. Capoeira is a martial arts, and hence girls -and guys,of course- will get hurt, though somehow it's less ok for girls to get hurt...
Hmmm.. having taken a martelo to the face once, plus several other minor hits and near-misses, yeah sure the danger is there. Thing is, capoeira being a non-contact sport, plus taking into account Zambiacongo philosophy, I believe the possibility of getting hurt is minimized compared to other martial arts. Maybe one danger is that we are playing with music, with energy, and when the axe goes up the play becomes fast and furious and the intimidating kicks start coming in. Simple solution that might sound silly: either don't play when you feel the jogo is too aggressive, or play with seniors that you know will watch out for you (and is pro enough to stop their kicks halfway haha.. )
3. Girls cannot do the 'moves' anyway.
There's just so many subtleties and misconceptions hidden in this one sentence that my thoughts are jumbled up here... First, what are the 'moves', mind you? I think a lot of us girls are intimidated seeing male capoeiristas do parafuso, macaco, au sem mao (though I'm not complaining.. Who will complain seeing hot guys do cool moves? ;p ), and do not believe a decent game can still be developed using ground movements and basic movements. I'll leave the more experienced seniors to comment on this, but well, techniques like rasteiras and bloqueios can be an option to develop a beautiful, malicia-filled game without flying around.. (Just my 2 cents' worth..)
Secondly, for those girls who want to do the 'moves' and think we are too weak for those.. Well, the only way is to train.. Haha.. Read that, pound-for-pound, male muscle has the same strength as female muscle, so technically, we're not 'weaker' but 'have less muscle'. Thing is, I used to wonder whether I'd develop bulging muscles if I train with push-ups, wall handstands.. so I read around, and apparently female muscles develop differently than male's, so no need to fear oranges sprouting from your biceps yet!
Ying Wen said something true for me: "I think for girls a lot of time the problem is not just lack of strength, but lack of guts. Girls are more afraid to do the moves." I don't know how true this is for other girls, but personally, I have to train step-by-little-step till I'm confident with each step even for an actually-not-so-dangerous thing like handstand and au.. And though I'm jealous with how the beginner guys are progressing faster, now I learn just to enjoy feeling physically and mentally stronger after each little achievement =)
Mestre said,"When you go into a roda, make sure afterwards people remember you." I admit that I'm still pessimistic and insecure about me as a female capoeirista ever achieving that.. but my version would be, "When I go into a roda, make sure afterwards people think, 'oh she must have trained pretty hard to get here.. she's serious about capoeira."
Long way to go!