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Capoeira
Learning Capoeira
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What makes a good student of capoeira?
 
Responses from capoeiristas:

They have to WANT to learn capoeira. Capoeira is not something that's easily understood, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. It's something that can start to consume you and you have to make the decision as to whether you're in for the long haul, or whether you can't deal and have to bail when it starts to drain on you. ( Most people seem to drop out between 2-3 years).

They have to have the drive to practice in their own time, to focus on what their Mestre is trying to teach them, and they have to cultivate the ability to be able to deal with changing times and situations. A lesson we learn does not necessarily apply to all situations, or even to any other situation besides the one that we specifically learned it in, Things change. And the world is tricky.

Patience. Patience is so important. In a world of fast food, 2 year black belts, microwave ovens, and bullet trains, it's even harder to deal with the fact that capoeira is not something you can learn overnight, or even in the space of a few years. It's a life long journey. And every day that you decide to wake up and train, you're recomitting to that journey.

Seek out information: The internet is an amazing tool, but like any tool, it has to be used, and can probably produce as much junk as it can anything else. I think that the perfect student should be out trying to find out all they can about the history of capoeira, the roots, the music, other schools, etc... Stay true to your own Mestre and school, but realize that there are other paths out there to the same goal, and if you learn from them, it might enhance your own abilities as well.

Stay Respectful: Always have respect for everyone and everything around you. This includes your own Mestre, your own school, visiting Mestres and their students, guys off the street.etc.. and also to yourself. If you're a hot head who likes to cause trouble, trouble will find you every time.

Try to be in harmony: Always try to apply the flow of capoeira to the rest of your life. Try to move in harmony with your surroundings and your environment. Sometimes this might mean having to leave your Mestre or your school. Or your partner, etc... If you're not in harmony then you're not only hurting yourself, but also the ones around you. If you talk RESPECTFULLY to any Mestre, who's worthy of the title, and you say that you just don't fit in here anymore in your heart. They should thank you for been given the chance to teach you, and then wish you luck. The ones that freak out on you will only re-enforce the idea that you must leave, either way. If it's time to go. it's time to go.

Practice, Practice, Practice. You have to always practice. Everything. Not just the movements, but the music and songs as well. Know all the instruments, variations and all. Learn as many songs as you can. The only way you get better is with practice. Most people don't want to look foolish so they don't practice the stuff they suck at, so they never get better at it. The ones that practice their weaker skills definately become the stronger in the end, and personally, I have a lot more respect for the people who overcome difficulty than the ones who slide through life only doing what they're good at.

~ Cantor, Capoeira Ache Brasil, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

For all students:
1) Respect the roda at all times, never forget that capoeiristas were severely persecuted for their love of this art.
2) Humility is a good trait to keep yourself grounded when learning in the roda.
3) Help build up the newer student's confidence.
4) Know that if you join a school you become a representative of that school. Your actions whether good or bad can paint a picture of that school.
5) Help promote your school even if the person teaching doesn't ask it of you.
6) When you come to class come to train.
7) Pick up an instrument even if you sound bad playing it, you can only get better.
8) Sing and clap until you can't anymore, than sing and clap some more. :^D

For people who want to learn capoeira:
1) What type of student are you? Goofy and light hearted, serious and focused...etc
2) Listen and watch closely to the person or persons teaching the class. Do they have a personality and methodology that suits your learning style?
3) What are your real intentions for joining a school? Getting fit, meeting new people, school bully took your lunch money...etc
4) How much of yourself/time are you willing to devote to your chosen school.
5) Get in shape playing capoeira. Don't say you're going to get in shape first than then learn to play capoeira.

~ Soneca, Capoeira Brasil, Phoenix, AZ

 

Everyone feels like quitting sometimes, but it's being able to endure that makes us strong. I remember someone asking Mestre Acordeon if he ever wanted to quit capoeira. He said something to the extent of "sure, yesterday I wanted to quit, but today I am here." I think he was trying to say that even Mestres get frustrated at times, but that doesn't keep them from staying with it.

I also think that a good student should help out at the school, even with little things like sweeping the floor and with bigger things like planning batizados and eventually teaching. They should also encourage the other students, those better than them and those worse than them. A good student should not get jealous of someone who can do a movement or something else that they can't. A good student should be willing to share their knowledge, but they should also know when to say "I don't know that very well and you would probably be better off learning from someone else." The way to grow and to make your school grow is to share whatever you can....and be humble.

~ Espantalho, Brazilian Arts Center, Sacramento, CA

 

One thing that I think is bad in some students is that they put their teachers up on a pedestal, this is bad for the art, the teacher and the student. unrealistic expectations of the teacher, and some times of Capoeira. Do try and keep it real.

~ Corvo, Grupo Caribe, Davis, CA

 

Yeah, I fully agree. Endurance and humility make a good student, in my opinion. And about creating a "cult to the mestre", I must agree again. My mestre himself is always saying he is just human, and will bleed if cut, the same way he'll cry when sad. Don't expect your mestres be supermen. They are not perfect, nor invincible...

~ Teimosia, Capoeira Arte e Luta, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

 

Also to agree that if you want to succeed in anything, not just capoeira, you have to embrace it in its completeness and give it all you can.

It has to be pointed out that there are some people who do capoeira mearly because they enjoy it and have no great ambition in it. I wouldn't presume to put these people down, but you have to decide how far you want to take it. If you want to go all the way you have to work twice as hard and twice as often as is convenient.

~ Jacungo, Filhos de Bimba, Newcastle, UK

 

I think that a good student should be humble. A little bit of personal comfort in your abilities is healthy, but don't kid yourself. Not everyone is impressed by sincere expression of egotistical pride in one's skills. You may be good, but don't remind me outside the roda.

I'm kind of a rogue. Mestres might disagree with this statement: I think a good student should seek multiple influences to learn from if possible. Train with different schools every once in a while. Get surprised as much as possible when you are a new student so you don't get surprised later. Try and learn your own weaknesses.

~ Atrapallado