And so I am doing capoeira.
I am doing capoeira. (I know, right? Another one? Sheesh. I guess I have to learn Portuguese now, too. Lech. And I haven’t even gotten my black belt in taekwondo yet. Talk about a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.) I couldn’t even pronounce this, let alone spell it, years ago.
I was in love the first class alone though – it was like the first time I did taekwondo in New York, or the time I fell in love with nunchucks and sai. In taekwondo, the first thing I thought when I saw all the black belts kicking was ,”Wow, that’s so cool!” But in capoeira, the sight of a couple dozen people doing synchronized gingas was just gorgeous. It’s a wonderfully balanced combination of kicking, striking, and rolling, with rhythm and song tying it all together. I also love how it makes a mockery of slavery, as capoeira was born from the slaves in Brazil. The happiest martial art of all!
After the first class, I welcomed the familiar feeling of being so sore and achy, with my feet black from the mat, and the undersides of my toes close to blistering. My whole body felt like it was made of lead, so much so that I skipped a parkour** class that weekend. Whee! I am home again! And finally, something that will develop my (non-existent) upper body strength! I can finally give up boxing, which I fear will smash my hands and render me incapable of sketching well.
** parkour – it’s this French thing that, as an exaggeration, involves you jumping from one building to the next. People who practice this (traceurs and traceuses) will tell you that it’s about efficiency.
I inwardly rejoice come kicking time, since squatting down for an hour makes me feel like my thighs disappeared. I am known by some as “the girl who does taekwondo” since the height of my kicks gave me away. Oh well. I guess the splits they made me do back then are so paying off now!
I will never give up taekwondo, though. I miss the resonating slap of a kick pad and the satisfying crack of a board breaking. It still comprises my roots and for God’s sake, I have bled for this sport! A lot of drama and angst and hard-earned cash went into my training and some of my teachers have seen me cry and that rarely happens. But I like having something to go back to where I don’t care about getting a belt; it’s just fun for me and I need to recreate that feeling of being so cleansed and spent without the 100 degree heat in yoga.
I think I am doing capoeira to force myself to socialize, as capoeira is a social art and we were told in the beginning that “no one is a stranger.” Yikes and whee, let’s get it on; I am losing this battle. Already my old habits are in place – I stand in the back corner and rarely speak to anyone. Hmm. I do not recall being in a bar voluntarily in my life, and I will make every single excuse not to attend press conferences, huge gatherings, and launch parties. Am I socially deficient or what? I have this feeling that they think me aloof – the pale girl from New York with the fancy handwriting (I was picked on during the first day when I had to sign my name.)
But where human beings are involved, I usually have a good first impression of martial artists. They’re usually more self-assured, respectful of people, and less obnoxious. It gives you a backbone without you realizing it. I think it explains my rather desperate answer to my father a couple days ago, when asked why I just HAD to go to class. I have to do it, Dad! Or else I get so mad at the world and then at myself. I’ve nearly thrown my cellphone on the floor three times the past week in exasperation. I need to get away, you guys, especially when I have this unstoppable urge to start breaking things.
One thing I’ve noticed consistently in martial arts is the apparent homogeneity of the initial mental states of the people who begin doing it. On one extreme, you get the people who are very competitive and want to be the best – the jock types who want to be cooler. On the other hand, you see those who are very problematic and who seem to be the types with self-esteem issues. I reckon that a number of them were picked on in school or at work, aren’t in love with their jobs, or are still seeking some life direction. A few months into it, it becomes quite beautiful to see their confidence boosted up, as though the simple act of hitting a kick pad did something to their heads. Each training day becomes something they can hang onto, to remind themselves that they can be something more than what they ever thought they could be. A few hours on the mat becomes their personal escape from the ordinariness of what has become the existence that is far removed from their childhood fantasies. They become more focused, feeling that if they can finally do a technique they were struggling with earlier, then they can do anything, including stand up for themselves or finally go for what they want.
One wonders whether the lone thing human beings need to trudge through life is a shot of affirmation.
Anyhoo, I am currently extremely jealous of the hosts of Fight Quest, a Discovery Channel documentary that chronicles the journey and training of two guys who go from one country to the next, learning their martial art. Whee! I am fascinated and in love and please, do you need a girl? Yes, you need a girl! And you need one from a different race and culture who is mixed and can speak a lot of languages! Three is a much better number than two and you need your comic relief. HIRE ME!!!!
Lots of love,