Now that I am training for my cordao, Capoeira is becoming part of my daily life. I train three to four times a week with four different teachers at three different schools. As my scope and knowledge of Capoeira expands so too does my interest. I’m learning the meet and greet exchange that happens when I stumble upon a new Capoeirista:
They ask: Who do you train with?
I reply: Lobo and Cantora.
They ask: How did you find Capoeria?
I reply: Groupon.
They ask: What’s your Capoeira name?
I reply: Cenoura
They hesitate: Does that mean carrot?
I nod affirmative.
Then I ask the questions. So far I’ve had the honor of playing a handful of amazing female Capoeiristas. I have met White Rose, The Voice, Pirate, The Cat, The Voice 2 and River. I’ve watched these goddesses glide, bend, swirl and move around the roda with fierce grace. It’s both inspiring and humbling. My game feels choppy, awkward and crunchy in comparison.
* * *
Two weeks ago, after a particularly humbling class, my Sunday teacher asked me,
“What do you need help on, what don’t you have yet?”
I rolled my eyes wanting to say,
“Everything. Don’t you know they call me carrot? I am a freaking joke around here!”
Instead I named three difficult moves I’d be tested on that require upper body strength I don’t yet have.
He responded with a confident full smile,
“Don’t worry, I’m on your team, we’ll get those things.”
Despite kind encouragement, I left class dejected. To lick my wounds, I picked up a 6-pack, headed to the river and sprawled out on a blanket. I greedily sipped at my beer wrapped in my sweaty shirt as I watched the Schuylkill River lap against the banks. As I listened to Michael Franti Pandora I realized a few things: 1) I am not good at being a beginner 2.) The name carrot is really bothering me 3.) My novel is stuck; I’m in a creative rut 4.) Aunt Flow is town for her monthly visit.
Two hours, a handful of free writes and three beers later, I watched the reflection of the river-iridescent figure-eight spirals flowing along the concrete underbelly of the bridge. Life is all about perception, said my inner voice, shift perceptions of “carrot” and you’ll stop feeling sorry for yourself.
* * *
The next night I went to the Mestre’s academy. The Mestre is like the grandfather of ASCAB Capoeira in Philadelphia. I trained with an advandved Capoeirista who patiently worked me through some of the sequencias, showing me how to place my legs and move my body more effectively through the kicks. At the end of class I felt gratitude for his guidance and thanked him.
He shrugged and patted my back,
“It takes a village”
“Yeah especially when your carrot. I’m starting to think it’s like that country song, A Boy Named Sue.”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“Oh, It’s a classic. It tells the story of a boy named Sue. He grows up not knowing his father, angry with his girly name and fighting many brawls. Until one day he runs into his old man at the bar, they fight and at the end his father tells him he gave him a girl’s name to make him tough.”
“Interesting…well I don’t know the song but carrot reminds me of the opening scene of Shoot Em Up.”
The next day my perception shifted as I watched this clip: Shoot Em Up Opening Scene.
Eat Your Vegetables,
A Warrior Princess