Friday, 20 April 2007

"As voltas que o mundo dá"*

“We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”
- T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

I've lived in Bahia, in the northeastern part of Brazil, for over 20 years now. My original idea was to spend 3 months here and return to the US, where I had already been accepted by the UCLA History Department's PhD programme. After searching for Capoeira for nearly a month, serendipity (or my orishas) put me side by side with a mestre who ran a Capoeira Angola school. He invited me to take some lessons, I accepted, and for that and many other reasons, by the time I was supposed to leave Bahia (in the middle of Carnival) I'd decided to stay. One of the highest privileges I've had since then was learning Capoeira from one of the greatest mestres alive today - João Grande - but life steered me in another direction. Then, just recently, in February 2007, some 15 years since I'd last entered a roda, I visited him at his school in NYC, and he invited me to play a bout. Then he had me sit beside him and play berimbau. It was a huge honour and one of the happiest moments of my life.
"In my end is my beginning"
To paraphrase Michael Corleone's line in the Godfather, "Just when I think I'm out, it pulls me back in." Capoeira is more than a martial art. For a Capoeirista, it's a way of life. It changes your way of thinking and behaving and alters your DNA. This blog is about how I became a Capoeirista, starting with how a complete non-athlete developed an early disposition to learn martial arts. I can thank my brothers for that, in part - and it's probably no coincidence that one of them is now a Ving Tsun sifu.

*An untranslatable Brazilian saying referring to the strange turns life can take as "the world turns".

No comments: