Well I’ve been in brasil one week and have pretty much been exposed to only one group of capoeira. So based on my impressions thus far, I just want to get some of the thoughts out of my head that i’ve been running around with for the past few days. My goal is not to offend here, but simply to critique a couple things from an outsider’s point of view. One of the bigest things GUETO has been preaching is that capoeira is these days exploited for tourism. They are trying to distinguish themselves as a more of a cultural association and teach students appreciation for the arts and apart from capoeira, incorporate other aspects of afro-brasilian cultural dance like puxada de rede, maculelé, and samba de roda. They also told me that they dont like the group of which i was a part of in the US called ABADA Capoeira based on their style of play, and according to them, their goal to own the world….. so, my goal the past few days has been to attempt to let them see that critiquing is ok, but they could be much more useful to be happy of who they are and where they are going, and not put so much negative energy to badmouth other guy. As far as i can tell, every group has an external appearance as well as their internal practices. From the outside, and from what i’ve seen in their presentations, GUETO could easily be mistaken for just another extravogant capoeira show with their university and mall presentations attempting to sell their instruction to prospective students and families looking for alternatives to drugs etc. for their kids. Of course they are not just show, they have structure and good intentions as does every group of capoeira I imagine.
ABADA has their own style and their own method of teaching, perhaps different from the free-style vibe of Salvador Bahia. But to GUETO I say: calm down here, you cant negate their existence as one of the largest groups in the world…. even if they have emerged as the McDonalds of capoeira, their system of training, and instruction must be doing something right! A few members have told me that my abada t-shirt is not well received in Bahia and that i shouldnt wear my corda crua (a beginners cord in the ABADA cord system) because this color in general is the color of mestres cords, which is true. I’m fine to forego the advertising and wear and wear all white with no cord, however the constant negativity against ABADA as a group and persistent badmouthing of other groups that to them have lost something of the “true essence” of capoeira, I find it to be redundant, petty and even offensive. I explained to them to take it easy and step back and look at what they are saying and to whom they are speaking… Im not Brasilian and i dont care about petty bickering, machismo, and competition for new $tudent$ between schools. Furthermore, i reasoned to them that without ABADA I would have never been introduced to capoeira and its highly likely i wouldnt be where i am today, and perhaps wouldn’t even exist as a capoeirista. Unlike Brasil, in the exterior much of the time there is no choice of schools / methods / mestres, in fact there is only ONE school in my city. I understand that the dynamic between mestres and personalities here is a complex, living, changing situation, but i believe capoeira is a beautiful means for cultural exchange and its really tiring to see so much negativity intertwined with the art.