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Capoeira
Mestre Bola Sete Conclusions
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Mestre Bola Sete (José Luiz Oliveira Cruz) trained with Mestre Pessoa Bababá, who was a student of Mestre Pastinha. His own academy, the Centro de Cultura da Capoeira Tradicional Bahiana (Center for Traditional Bahian Capoeira Culture), was founded in 1980. Today, he is the president of the Council of Mestres of the Associação Brasileira de Capoeira Angola (Brazilian Capoeira Angola Association).

 

Here I have translated Chapter 7 of his second book, Capoeira Angola: Do Iniciante Ao Mestre.

Chapter 7 - Final Considerations

 

Mestre Pastinha used to say that “the best defense is not to involve oneself in conflicts,” with which I fully agree. I know various people, including renowned capoeiristas, who in spite of their advanced age always lived in peace without ever having utilized capoeira as a fight and without ever having suffered an attack, which for them is a source of pride.

I believe that in our world, where wickedness and consequently violence, the fruit of many peoples’ ignorance of the true direction of life, prevail, we must prepare ourselves in the best possible manner so that we can defend ourselves, in the hour of danger, against enemies. If we do not, we will be like a lamb among wolves.

In the face of this reality, I think that every capoeirista should circle in good and bad environments, so that he can acquire the experience and, consequently, the malandragem (cleverness) necessary to his development. To know wickedness and not use it. This is one of our main objectives. That is where merit resides. To have the knowledge of evil and keep it in your innermost, not allowing it to manifest itself.

The important thing is to possess the required knowledge to neutralize the evil beforehand, in the key moment, if necessary. In reality, the most difficult thing is to be provoked and manage to give a denial, to refuse, not in cowardice, but in awareness of the damage that this attitude could bring about for your opponent and yourself.

Although capoeira angola, in its fighting form, contains all the elements of defense and attack necessary for use in any situation, we all know that no fight is complete. All of them, without exception, have their weak point. Capoeira, without a shadow of a doubt, is invincible with the feet. But let’s see: what fighter of a different style would face a capoeirista in such conditions, in which the rules only permitted the use of the feet in the execution of hits? And regarding the boxer, what fighter would face him if only the use of the hands was allowed in the application of hits? It is the same thing with the martial arts that utilize the technique of linked movements, the example of jiu-jitsu, what fighter would face a practitioner of this art when the rules allow only body-to-body combat?

In reality, as said previously, all of them have their limitations. Capoeira is a street fight. It wins primarily through malícia, deception, and can never be subjected to regulations, specific to competitions in a ring.

Boxing, like capoeira, does not mesh with the holds characteristic of close grappling fights. Regarding jiu-jitsu and the many similar arts, they possess fewer resources than boxing and capoeira for facing more than one adversary, since upon securing one of them, the fighter will become totally vulnerable to the other attackers, who will be able to attack him freely. In addition, there is the danger of bites in the sensitive points of the body and stabs with sharp instruments, to cite only a few examples, obviously prohibited in sporting competitions but often utilized in street fights, in which the fact is that “anything goes,” any alternative is valid, in the anxiousness to free oneself from a dangerous situation.

Once, in a conversation with Mestre Pastinha, I asked him what he thought of my aspiration to learn boxing, and he responded that “the capoeirista is an inquisitive person,” meaning by this that all knowledge is important. Adding: “the capoeirista must aim to learn a little bit of everything, although his base must remain in capoeira angola, which is the mother of all fights,” thus avoiding, I believe, the loss of identity.

It is very important for the capoeirista to utilize all possible alternatives in seeking his perfection, including the fighting aspect; however, he must be attentive to not commit a very grave error that many unprepared capoeiristas and even some mestres are committing. Preparing ourselves for a possible attack does not mean that these trainings should be carried out openly so that all witness them, and it means even less the utilization of other martial arts’ movements in capoeira rodas, to the sound of the berimbaus and the many other instruments that compose the orchestra. This situation would be characterized as disrespect for the participants in the roda and for the viewing audience, and mainly for the greatest mestre of capoeira: the berimbau, which commands and dictates the rhythm.

In this way, the music and the traditional songs as well as the rituals and the precepts would lose sense, cease to be capoeira, and be transformed into another style of fight. In this type of proceeding, the greatest fault is with the mestre who commands the roda, who must be conscious of what he really proposes to teach. If he insists on mixing capoeira with other martial arts, he must at least have the honesty to change the name of the style that he practices and naturally cease to utilize the musical instruments and the songs that characterize the accompaniment of the game in the roda, and not the fight, reserved for defense against our enemies, so that he will not be deceiving people who really want to learn capoeira.

Concluding, in my opinion, the capoeira fighter must have notions of boxing and jiu-jitsu. Capoeira’s strength is in the movements of the ginga, the hits given with the feet and with the head, the rasteira, and principally the knowledge of malícia, which is one of its unmistakable characteristics, mainly in the style of angola; in boxing, we all know that its strengths are the punches and dodges and footwork; and in jiu-jitsu, the linked hits, mainly when one manages to take the opponent to the ground. However, the deficiency of each one is covered by the others, making, in my view, the fighter very prepared, almost invincible. Nevertheless, if in spite of having all these attributes, he still does not have the knowledge necessary to surpass fear and other negative feelings, generators of almost all the misfortunes in the life of a human being, none of this will be enough to achieve his objective that, first of all, must be victory over himself. He will only succeed when he manages to face any dangerous situation with serenity and confidence, even accepting a possible defeat as part of the learning process.