Capoeira Update – Goals, Progress, and Inspiration

It’s been a while since my last capoeira update, sorry for that. In late autumn I was sick for a few weeks and lost a lot of the muscles in my back and my arms and a bit of the flexibility for which I had worked so hard during the summer. As I stated a few months ago, one of my goals for 2016 is the ponte walkover. It’s still on my list, but I still have to work on regaining said muscles and the flexibility of my spine (and straighten my arms more) before I can think of starting to work on the actual walkover part. I’d love to be able to do at least an assisted walkover by summer, so I could do it in the park on the green grass where I started working on this move. Before Christmas break we practised the aú de frente (mix of a cartwheel and a front walkover; some people in our group call it aú amazonas, which I think is confusing, considering it is also another name for the aú batido) in one class. I tried it a couple of times after that and today we practised it again. It’s a really pretty movement and takes more courage and flexibility/balance than raw strength, so this is on my “learn before summer is over” list as well, especially since I’m already half way there. So 2016 is going to be my walkover year ;) This includes trying to get to a free standing handstand, which would make many movements a lot easier and more balanced. And as I’ll finally, finally get my very own berimbau in just a few days if all goes well (when I asked him today, contra mestre said he’d try to prepare a médio for me by Friday or Monday from the materials he brought back from Brazil recently!), another goal would be learning at least one new toque.

I didn’t make a lot of further progress concerning the basic techniques – apart from a faster and more precise martelo maybe -, but I started to learn and/or use a few new movements. The aú de frente I already mentioned above, but I also did my first few rather miserable attempts of an au cabeça no chão (sort of a cartwheel with the head on the ground). Additionally I’m working on including more ground movements in general, e.g. different rolês and fintas of  low kicks. I can hold a handstand for a few seconds after pushing away from the wall sometimes, or hold it for a longer time while touching the wall for support with only the toes of one foot. And my last macaco today seemed to be good enough for the contra mestre to nod and walk away instead of giving tons of instructions. I’m still not able to do one starting with my left hand, though.

My newest inspiration are the videos by Andrea Cazotti. He combines capoeira, acro dance, tricking, and a lot of heart and soul to create beautiful movement art. These are two of my favourite videos by him (narrations in French, but with English subtitles):

I’ve also started to read Tao of Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee). While it isn’t about capoeira at all I can relate a lot to the ideas and the mindset described in this book. Sadly the book on Capoeira Conditioning (bodyweight training with capoeira movements) hasn’t arrived yet. It should have been here by end of December.

How have you been, capoeiristas? What are your goals for the next few months? What is your inspiration?

Capoeira progress report

With winter coming closer it feels so strange to look back to early summer – just half a year since I received my first cord. It feels like a much longer time has passed since that hot weekend. I’ve come a long way since then, though the progress is much slower than I would like it to be.

Endurance: A little progress, I don’t get out of breath as quickly as I used to, but still a long way to go! We’ve been doing a lot of burpees (well … a simplified version without the push-up part) the last few months and it really pays off; so does running to the train station with a heavy backpack. And I don’t cry all the time anymore.

Strength: I’ve built up some muscles, especially in my arms – my Massai bangle doesn’t fit around my upper arm anymore and I had to modify it with a 2-3 cm long strip of elastic! This week I discovered I’m finally able to walk a few steps in a back-bend position, so this is definitely some progress. Talking about back-bends …

Acrobatics: Walking in a back-bend works, turning back into a normal quadruped position only sometimes (and only in one direction). I haven’t managed to reproduce the handstand against the wall, but at least I know I can do it theoretically now. Still working on the queda de rins, I can’t lift both legs at the same time; I should google which muscle groups I have to strengthen for this! My au (cartwheel) is getting better and I’m practising slowing down in the middle to hold a kind of handstand for a moment; this will take some more time I guess. Oh, and doing cartwheels with just one hand isn’t as difficult as it looks, at least one version is manageable and the other one should work with some more training (I keep hurting my shoulder with it, so I guess I lack muscles for control).

Movements/precision: I’m able to do most basic kicks somewhat right now on good days, and understanding/executing simple sequences has become easier. Sometimes combinations still confuse me if they include a lot of turning around, but instead of crying on the floor I go and find someone to help me, which is much more productive. Doing the meia lua de compasso with just one hand one the ground is one of the things I’m working on these days, and I have trouble keeping my leg straight during kicking. Precision is also an issue; due do my lack of strength I do a lot of movements with speed instead of control so far.

Dizziness: still a problem but I’m more actively trying to find solutions now (mostly experimenting with different kinds of food before and during class – yesterday I felt very dizzy and took a bite from my granola bar in the middle of class, which helped a little). I’m still fighting it a lot and often I keep going by sheer will power until I truly can’t stand upright anymore or feel like I’m a danger to others and myself.

Goals for the end of this year: Getting the queda de rins right at least for a moment (Update: managed to lift both legs by mid-November, though not yet with straight legs), doing at least one more handstand against the wall on my own, Update: goal reached on 12/12/2014 by doing not only one but three handstands against the wall and beginning to practise arm presses), managing to do 10-15 simplified burpees without resting in between (Update: reached 15 by 3rd December!). Doing more push-ups at home to build up more arm muscles. Working on keeping my kicking leg straight during spinning kicks. Maybe use my birthday money (if I get any, that is) to go to a one-day workshop (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt^^).

Goals for next year: Learning one or two nice combinations/sequences to put the queda de rins and other movements into use. Stopping in the middle of the au for a moment without falling over. Working on flexibility to get closer to doing a split. Building overall strength (especially upper body) and gain more control over my movements. Go to more rodas.

I don’t know where I’ll be next year at this time. It’s a little scary and makes me want to run away from my master’s thesis, but there’s no turning back now (“no turning back no backing down …”). Part of me wants to stay, part of me wants to go and start something new. Even if I stay there will be a lot of decisions to be made. I want to stay and keep playing with the people I know.