Uma tarde um violão… a Capoeira (Playing our lives)

By Sandy Lokas

Prefacing Roger Garaudy‘s Dançar a Vida (Dancing Life) Maurice Béjart tells how words can sometimes divide people while dancing seems to always harmoniously bring them together. The book studies the history of Dance and how it can become a practical life philosophy to dancers. I believe Maurice’s and Garaudy’s take can help us understand how Capoeira shapes our bodies and lives inside out.

In the preface Maurice shares how he once went visiting a Yoga Mestre in India hoping to practice ‘the real deal’ and not the marketed gymnastic sold world over. The Mestre explained that “the word Yoga means unity. This unity you can also find in dance. You are a dancer. Shiva, the Lord of the world, the great yogi, is also named Nataraja, ‘the King of the Dance’… You are a dancer, you are lucky. May your dance be your Yoga, do not seek other.”

Lately my life has been quite hectic. Family, studies, work… Living life in a completely different culture. And to make it worse, I figured all this harshness has been pushing me away from my forms of Yoga; Daily Capoeira, music, friends… It’s been like that for a few years by now. I’m not as fit as I used to be nor do I have the time to be, but that’s not the worse part. Some how I made choices that, to a degree, disconnect myself from the very things I’m made from. Aware of that, I have been working on recovering my unity; my Yogas, for I have a few things that brings back my oneness.

During the first 6 to 7 years of practice I used to train 3 to 4 days a week. For the last 10 years before leaving Brazil I used to play Capoeira every day. Really, 7 days a week. For that I used to train 5 days a week on top of the 3 to 4 classes a day I used to teach. This much activity, as much as the lack of it, can’t be much healthy either, but that’s not my point now. For now my point is that I wholeheartedly miss playing Capoeira everyday. Just as I miss those close friends I grew up playing with, and the sambas and forrós I used to go every week with them.

By Eurico Vianna

Dançar a Vida has a simple proposition, one we capoeiristas are quite familiar with: “what would happen if instead of simply building our lives we give in to the madness, or wisdom, of dancing it?”. Isn’t exactly what we do?! We live our lives according to the principles of Capoeira. We learn how to fall and, even better, how to get up. We learn how to cruise through our difficulties using more ginga. We learn to overcome our fears and limitations. And most importantly we learn that in our interactions we don’t ‘play against but with the other’. Dance is an integral part of Capoeira, and I believe many of us have learned how to dance, how to play our lives.

Today, as part of my efforts to get back my unity, I played samba to the sunset. And, once I couldn’t play Capoeira in a Domingueira (a sunday Roda), I went training alone as I did for many years in Brasília. Though the game and some of my dearest friends weren’t there, the training was good. The day was better. There was the ocean, the sunset, the music and Capoeira.

By Sandy Lokas

When Maurice was leaving, the Yoga Mestre looked him in the eye and said: “Ah! If all westerners could re-learn how to dance!”. Isn’t what we’re all doing in Capoeira. We, capoeiras, are all dancers, fighters, musicians… Artists, deep at the bottom, and all at once. We’re all mastering our lives based on the principles of Capoeira. At times we dance, at times we play. But most often, because to express ourselves in this crazy world is a laborious task, we fight. Often too we do that against all odds.

Whenever my students are demotivated because they can’t train as much as they would like to, I tell them that it’s easy to train a lot for a short period of time. The difficult part, however, is to build up our lives in a healthy way so that we can be playing throughout our whole lives and not only when we’re young. These latter years of my life have been the hardest time to prove my point to them.

Garaudy, R. (1980). Dançar a Vida. Nova Fronteira. Rio de Janeiro.
(Original title: Garaudy, R. (1973). Danser Sa Vie. Editions du Seuil)

11 thoughts on “Uma tarde um violão… a Capoeira (Playing our lives)”

  1. O Euricones…

    Mestre Euricones
    Saudade demais daquelas tardes de domingos, do incentivo ao treino e à manutenção da saúde por meio da capoeira, saudade tb das tantas rizadas e das cachorradas no forró e no samba.

    Espero que esteja bem por ai e em breve nos encontraremos novamente
    Abraço forte do seu amigo e irmão MAGONES!!

    See you latter

  2. Amazing (as usual) :)
    I am currently recovering from an injury on my hip due to ‘over-training’ or should I say unhealthy training. I remembered what you told me once about the need to train smarter with age.
    Wise words, wise article :)

    1. Marwan,
      Over-training injuries can cost a lot in one’s future… High-performance athletes usually have a life spam of 3 Olympic cicles maximum. This is only 12 years, and I say only because a capoeirista with around 10 years of training today is considered a ‘young instructor’.
      While hard training is good, over-training can be very dangerous. Not to mention that most people don’t really know how to plan and execute their training to suit their needs… If you’re not sure whether you’re training too much, it’s because you probably already is ;)
      Abraços Camarada!
      ps: I’ll doing a hip arthroscopy very soon. Watch out for your injury!

  3. Dear Eurico,

    A Capoeira e vida ea vida ea Capoeira! I really loved reading your article as it was short, sweet, and honest…I imagine that many people working with Capoeira away from home can identify with your feelings…

    As a volunteer having worked in Timor Leste with a Social Capoeira Project for the last three years there are definate days and moments when I feel saudade for the schools I first played Capoeira in…for the roofed and wooden floored spaces (not having to get rained in the rainy season or have my feet burned in the dry)…for the intense training schedules and people my size and age to train and practices sequences with, and during the most difficult days of all, for the mere easieness of just showing up and leaving from Capoeira classes…without the incredible responsability of being an integral part of a Capoeira social project…

    I think that when a Capoeirsita really begins live and dance Capoeira in and out of the roda,, incorporating it into his/her life and work, and sharing its value with those around them , is a beautiful and special, but a sometimes cumbersome responsability… and for sure this responsability and all that comes with it can feel overwhelming…because with responsability comes hardwork and a definate need to change and to give up things. you are used to having…for a greater objective….

    For me, when I have these moments of nostalgia….Ithink about not all I have given up but all that I have gained..and when I laugh together with the children and youth as we acheive yet another goal together…I know that I wouldn’t give up what I have here for anything in the world. At the end of the day I am one of the luckiest people in the world…privledged to know the children and youth who I have come to work with at MAC in Timor Leste…and even more privledged to have been given the opportunity to use Capoeira as an instrument for peace and social change.

    One thing is for sure… I know this for certain…one day when me and/or Capoeiristas like me go back to the places that we miss…we wiill come back with new things to share, a unique energy, and a lot more pimenta to add to the Roda :-)

    Dancing life…playing Capoeira, beautiful article, wonderful metaphor…I like it!

    Muita obrgiada!!


    Voluntaria -Assesora Juvinil MAC Criancas Unidas Timor Leste
    Voluntaria- Coordinadora do Projeto da Capoeira, MAC-ZUNGU Timor Leste

  4. yea i really liked the way how we some times go out of what makes us happy and relly on fighting against all odds.
    This article is once again very inspirational
    thanks for that
    i’ll se you next saturday now that i recover from my cold

  5. I’m a 42 year old beginner and training in this Martial art has changed my life. Capoeira makes every thing all right in MY world. I’m stronger smarter and more level headed than ever. Keep training in some way, always do what you love.

  6. Oi Eurico – very timely words.
    Especially now when I see my family suffering ill health and watch people I know and love struggle with their life -that idea of dancar a vida is something very strong for me.
    It is perhaps the strongest lesson that I have taken from capoeira:
    I know that even when things are hard in life, I can come to play and I will have companionship when I am lonely, community when I feel I cannot connect, music when I am unable to express myself and joy when happiness is hard to find in myself.

    In the jogo I dance with my comrades and engage on a deep and joyful level, and I try and take that dance into my life outside the roda.
    That idea of dancing -being graceful, companionable, strong, enjoying the ebbs and flows of movement around us compels me to try and live my life gracefully, compassionately, with strength and with flexibility all the while enjoying the wild ride that it is life.

    Take care and keep posting – its always great to read.
    – Madeira

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