Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Capoeira and the Olympic Games?

So I had a discussion months ago with someone about Capoeira being in the Olympic games at some point in the future. I've been thinking about it more and more (probably because the Winter Olympics are coming up), and I'll probably get some flak for this, but I think they should be included.

I've been looking it up, and there are only a handful of main arguments against it:
1) Capoeira will lose its edge.
2) Capoeira isn't about competition.
3) There shouldn't be winners and losers.
4) There's no way to score it.
5) The culture will be lost (its a way of life, etc).

For each of those, I've found counter-arguments and come up with a few of my own.
1) For those who say Capoeira will lose its edge, I hate to break it to you but it already did when they de-criminalized it back in the day. Do you see scythe ends on a berimbau these days? No? How about the participants holding razor blades and trying to cut each other up (that song Zum Zum Zum...yeah, its about the sound of razor blades swishing through the air and someone killing another in the roda)? No? Well, then, there you go. Capoeira has already been tamed down to where it is ineffective as a fighting style unless you've been practicing it since youth, which most of us haven't. In short, there really is no edge to lose at this point.

2) Now I've heard that Capoeira isn't about competition, and to a degree it isn't. It is about the conversation...but at the same time, you want to make yourself look better in the roda than the other person. That is a form of competition, folks. Like it or not, there is a competitive edge to Capoeira and it is part of the game. Prove me wrong.

3) There shouldn't be winners and losers. Okay, this sounds like the refrain from those who were picked on by the jocks in high school (and yes, I was one of those kids that was picked on and didn't play any sports). So you had a bad experience when you were 14 and don't want to play in a game where there are winners and losers. How will this being an Olympic sport affect your home-town roda if the mindset for winners/losers isn't present? Oh, it won't? Then live and let live; some of us like the competition.

4) There's no way to score it. Bullshit; there are ways to score sparring in any martial art and Capoeira is no different. "But Nick, there is no sparring in Capoeira." Um...yeah there is, it is called playing in the jogo. It may be a little more ritualized (i.e. you try not to hurt the other person for real), but it is still sparring as you are still trading blows and dodging.
Here's an example of a tournament's rules (yes, its for Capoeira):
Now I might lighten up on some of the formalities (apelidos, belonging to a single academy, etc), but I think they're pretty solid.

5) You'd lose the culture behind Capoeira/Capoeira is a way of life. So are other sports and so is Tae Kwon Do (a martial art which made it to the Olympics). You think that you finding balance and meaning in Capoeira excludes the ability to find the same things in volleyball, swimming, the triathlon or anything else? If so, you are sadly mistaken; any sport can become a way of life. Martial arts are by their nature sporting events, and those who practice them are athletes. Just because you think your sport is superior doesn't make it so.
As for culture, so long as they keep the music and malicia (which is a very important part of the game...I don't think a good game can exist without it), I think it'll be fine. Capoeira is already transcending cultures by enriching the capoeirista with knowledge of Brazilian culture. We learn Portuguese, we learn to play the berimbau and we learn about aspects more hidden in the culture like mindsets and whatnot. We learn history and I think that by including Capoeira in the Olympic games, it would be even more of a cultural ambassador for Brazil than it already is.
I fully support bringing Capoeira to the Olympic games, and I will be training as if it was already in the games. My workouts are currently designed to strengthen the areas I need to do some of the more advanced movements later on, and I'm working on larger amounts of cardio to increase my stamina in the game. I'm using my Yoga and other resources to help become more limber and focus on things that will help my game, too. My workouts are all focused on making me a better capoeirista, and should that day come when they do include it in the games, I may try to make it on the team.

This is my dream as an adult-onset athlete: to make it to the Olympic games playing Capoeira. It sounds lofty and it may not happen (its all up to the IOC), but I will still train with that intensity, that feeling and that dedication.

The Olympics hold a very dear place to me (just watching the opening brings tears to my eyes every single time) and yeah...who wouldn't want to train for that?

Um...I'm getting more emotional at this point, so I'm just going to let it go at this point before this turns into rambling.

**Edit: And yes, I know I'm far from being competition material, but having that goal to focus on is half of the battle. By having that, I will know what I'm up against, how I have to train, what training I will need and motivation. Its probably hard to understand, but yeah, that's how it works for me. I start at the end, work backwards to see what it'll take and plan accordingly.

Wow...its been a while

Update time (short and to the point):
Went to another batizado (this one with Senzala) and I think I might be training with them when I move...it was just a really good fit.

Learned some new things, mostly sequences, kicks, ways to use a cabecada and how to do chamadas.

Still improving my game as much as I can, but we all know its tough.

Still not so comfortable with acrobatics, but I'm working very hard on that. I need to get better at them and I'm determined to do so.

I'm teaching music to my grupo now...we have enough songs for a good 10 minute roda now, maybe longer depending how it all goes, ya know? Its pretty awesome.

That's all for now.