Capoeira Progress and Goals

It’s been a while since I last reported on my progress in capoeira.

Basically, when it comes to playing, what I am able to do didn’t change a lot. I do some basic kicks and esquivas, sometimes an aú. I’m trying to include more ground movements, but most of the time I simply forget that I can go from an esquiva to a negativa to a rolé. At the moment I try to learn more about building a fluid game by closely observing more advanced players in the roda. Additionally I will go back to my books and look up possible combinations of movements, which is something the geeky scientist inside me finds very helpful. Something I added to my range of movements is simply spinning on my heels (sounds lame, I know) and evading kicks by bending backwards, like in “The Matrix” (I don’t think my instructors are too happy with this, but especially in a slower game I like to do it for fun or sometimes even just because it’s my instinctive reaction now that I’m flexible enough to fall into a bridge or queda de rins from there – something I don’t do in the roda yet, but I’ll practise it more and then include it at some point!)

I’ve made some progress in the field of acrobatics. For a while now I’ve been able to go into a bridge/ponte from a standing position, recently I even managed to fall back in a way that allowed me to find the ground with both hands at the same time. I’m also able to do some small hops while in the ponte, getting my feets off the ground for a moment. This month I practised exiting the ponte by falling into a queda de rins and rolling over into a negativa, which is easier for me than just rolling out of the ponte, because in the queda de rins my arm and wrist feel more stable. I’ll work on lifting a leg while in the ponte, then try to get closer to a walk over. I don’t know if I’ll manage doing a ponte walk over by the end of this year, but I’ll try to get closer to it, so maybe next year? To get the necessary strength I started doing exercises with filled 1.5 litre water bottles in my hands, for example bicep curls and some exercises I found on the internet which are supposed to stabilise the wrists by training the forearm muscles. I’m working on my pull-ups, though I still don’t get beyond one and a half. Doing handstands against a wall is now something I practise almost daily. My handstand push-ups are getting better, while I also try to learn holding my balance without the wall for a moment. Just this week I did an underarm stand for the first time (also against the wall), to add some variation and give my wrists a little rest. I hope to learn a handstand without a wall soon, in whatever form – maybe with the legs either tugged in or in something like a forward split to make balance easier.

And I finally started seriously working on the sequence I’ve been hoping to learn for a long time now. This one:

I’m deconstructing the sequence by only doing two movements at a time to learn how to transition from one position to the next – entering or exiting the ponte by a queda de rins for example. What I’m mostly stuck on is lifting both legs from the ground in the queda de rins and swinging them around. My goal is to be able to execute this sequence by the end of this year. It doesn’t have to be perfect, I just want to be able to do all the transitions in a row without falling over or hurting myself.

Favourite Friday: inspirational capoeira videos

Recently I discovered some really cool and inspirational capoeira videos on YouTube, and I’d like to share my favourites with you.

“Girl on Fire”, the capoeira edition

She’s awesome, isn’t she?


Soul Capoeira: ground movement combination

This isn’t extraordinarily spectacular, but a great inspiration because I want to get better at playing close to the ground, so this nice little sequence is my goal for next year. Still working on a decent queda de rins, though … but seeing what can be done with it makes me keep trying.


More Soul Capoeira:

This guy reminds me of a dancing rain drop (especially with the music in this video) – his movements are so fluent, but slow and defined enough for the eyes to follow. Watching this video makes me fall in love with capoeira over and over again.


Last but not least: dancing with a chair


What’s 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.

happy – finally some progress

I left today’s Capoeira class very happy, because finally my cartwheels are getting better and more controlled, and for the first time I managed something that could pass as a queda de rins (translates to something like ‘fall on one’s kidney’).

The next step would be learning to do it without resting my knees on my other elbow, putting less weight on the head, and then bit by bit stretching the legs, but that’s for another week month. If I learn to do that, I’ll post photographic evidence :)