I went to NJ for Easter. On Saturday morning I woke up to face my very own double dog dare- to train solo. I have never done Capoeira outside of a class setting, outside of a private room where there are skilled capoeiristas to follow. There is comfort in numbers; now I was asking myself to fly solo in public. I felt the resistance work through my body as I lay in bed imagining joggers on the beach looking at me while I did the ginga to music they couldn’t hear, and butchered kick sequences they couldn’t easily identify. (Insert crowd’s judgment: Crazy, red-faced, white chic on sand doing weird upside down movements to Afro-Brazilian music.)
Fuck it, I thought as I put on my sports bra, Who cares what THEY think, this is about YOU.
I stepped onto the beach to find 20 little kids hunting for eggs, along with 30 grownups huddled around snapping pictures. I veered to the right searching for an isolated patch of sand. As I walked I took comfort in the gentle purr of baby waves crashing and receding. I remembered my teacher telling me that in Portuguese there is a word that describes the sizzle sound of the ocean retreating. I never knew the sea sizzled before but I as I walked I could hear it. I looked to the distant horizon and saw big clouds with wispy ends that looked like cotton candy being pulled. When my gaze shifted back I saw a man up ahead clad in a wetsuit standing on a board with a paddle in his hand. He was bobbing on the water all alone, an ocean paddling soul rebel. (Picture featured above)
I stopped directly in front of him. I bent down in the sand clearing seashells in a 10 foot radius; it felt good to be training outside in a natural environment because most of Capoeira music I’ve learned describes movements of nature. The newest one, a song called Sobe Mare, is about fish jumping in the tides. The music- the tempo, rhythm and lyrics- of a song determines the type of play; when the rhythm is slow, so too is the movement and the game stays close to the ground. When the tempo is fast the movements quicken and raise, kicks thrown from a standing position. And lyrics, like in Sobe Mare, are cues for people to flip like the fish jumping out of water.
Through my sunglasses I watched the surfer, taking strength in his presence. I plugged my earphones into my phone and selected a different song called Revolta Olodum. I don’t know the meaning of the lyrics yet, but the song is beautiful all the same, with a beat that builds in intensity and drums that ignite the soul. I first started with stretches feeling off balance in the sand. Then I moved to sequences trying to perform them for the duration of the song (3.5 mins). To get my cordao I am going to have to do 50 moves, 4 times each from the ginga position called out in Portuguese; with this in mind it seemed fruitless to worry about anything other than perfecting the movements. After the fourth time Revolta Olodum looped in my ear, I felt my ginga loosen into more of a desirable two-step dance move. In that moment I realized little by little Capoeira is unlocking me. I can’t quite explain it to you, just like the “ocean sizzle” word in Portuguese can’t be translated into English, but it feels natural and liberating.
A Warrior Princess