Fifth anniversary


Yesterday was the day of Iemanja, the mother of all orixas in Umbanda and Yoruba cultures, and more specifically, the patron saint of fishermen, but also women.

It also marked the fifth anniversary of the day that I started training with ABADA. The fifth anniversary is wood. This picture seems fitting to cover both.

In the past five years, ABADA has remained the one constant in my life. It’s seen me through death, break-ups, job changes, and more. The people who inhabit the space on a regular basis, including everyone from Mestra Marcia to new students, inspire me not only to train, but to keep pushing through even when I am not feeling great.

In class, I have sang my lungs out, laughed hysterically, and even cried, both from joy and from sadness. When everything is aligned right, how I feel in my mind and body, combined with the energy from those around me, there is a levity and a positivity that I don’t experience anywhere else. At the bare minimum, I’ve never walked into the studio and trained, and then went home regretting it.

I’m not sure how long my lungs and limbs will cooperate enough with me to continue training, but I will see how far they will take me. Continue reading


Third Anniversary

Today marks the third anniversary of when I started training with ABADA Capoeira. I’ve discussed before how important to me capoeira and the people of ABADA are. With each year, this only grows more.


That said, I need to commit myself more to training this year. I don’t push myself hard enough and it shows. 

So, I need to set some goals for myself. Here goes:

  • Improve bermibau playing by practicing at home (now possible as I finally bought my own!).
  • Learn to sing at least one new song a month.
  • Accomplish a floreira, maybe a macaco, but to do that move I will need to keep working on rehabbing my knee. That includes continuing my regular acupuncture appointments and strengthening the muscles around my knees with cycling.
  • Improve the most basic of moves, the ginga, because I am still swinging my knee too much. It would also minimize the stress on my knee.
  • Participate more in the roda. Playing more is good overall, but will also help minimize the anxiety I have about playing in general.


Second anniversary

Unlike most Saturday mornings when I’d be stretching my quads as I get ready to train at ACSF, instead I am sitting in bed drinking lots of hot liquid, blasting the humidifier, hoping this cold doesn’t get worse.

So I’m taking the time to look back on my second year of capoeira, Maybe I should go buy myself a new workout shirt now. The gift for second anniversaries is cotton.Image

Maybe my goals for the previous year were ambitious, but  I didn’t expect things to go the way they did. I started working full time again, and had a number of physical accidents of vary degrees, one  for which I am still going through physical therapy.

I have not learned to play the berimbau, though I have started to understand better the subtleties of playing one. I also realized I need to learn the pandeiro and the atabaque, with the other challenge for me of playing percussion and singing at the same time!

I am learning more songs, but am still too shy to lead one on my own, but that is still a goal.

My Portuguese has improved, though I am not speaking it as often as I was when I had time to take classes twice a week, but I was able to understand a lot of what was said during our training in December with Mestre Camisa. Plus, wow, I would have never expected training with him to be so fun, in addition to enlightening and educational.

I am playing more in the roda, but still could get in there more.

Floreiras like the basic parada are still an issue for me, but I am starting to understand better how to “stack” my muscles. Handstand classes and yoga help.

Unfortunately I can’t look back and say, wow, what a super awesome job you did meeting your goals, but I see now that as good as these goals are, I either have to accept why they didn’t happen, be it things like injuries, or better adapt to these challenges and figure out new ways to meet these goals so that I can accomplish some, if not all, this year.

What do I want to do this year? I still think the goals above are worth working for, even if I don’t do these all in the next year, especially now that I realize what is necessary to reach these goals. I’ll add another–going to Brazil in August for training. That would make me happy.

My next goal? Getting through this cold.


Hottest ticket in town

In my totally bias opinion, it’s Spirit of Brazil!

I’ve been watching the rehearsals and can confidently say, even if you want to watch baseball playoff games, there’s enough time to watch both. From October 18-21, ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco (ACSF) presents the SPIRIT OF BRASIL: “Mar de Tradições” (Sea of Traditions), at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.

Because I am a little lazy, here’s the scoop from the website: “ACSF’s performance troupe teams up with visiting Brazilian artists, Professores Mobília, Goma and Yara, as well as local talents, master percussionist Gamo da Paz and his group Quimbanda, musician Alfie Macias and choreographer/dancer Raffaella Falchi, and SAMBAXÉ Dance. The performances explore the evolution of Capoeira and Maculelê, from the post-slavery era to modern-day Brazil, and trace their movement from the northeastern state of Bahia to cosmopolitan Rio de Janeiro.”

I’m going. So should you!

8 weeks, 3 days and 16 hours

That’s the amount of time in between the last time I went into the roda and today’s class. I’ve been training for the past two weeks since I’ve felt well enough, but I haven’t been able to make it all the way through class and not have to sit out at least part of it due to pain and discomfort.

But today I could and that meant it was time to go back into the roda. I could hardly wait to go back in, but I waited until it felt right. I wasn’t good, but I made it through.

As I stepped out of the roda, I started crying, almost sobbing. After eight weeks of trying to get back into a physical place where I could go back in, I made it. As much as I felt relieved and not embarrassed to cry about my accomplishment, in theory, I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone to see it without being able to explain it to them.

But as I was taking in that moment, I heard Mestranda start to sing “Parabens” to a fellow capoerista who turned 50 today. My focus shifted to joy for someone who was celebrating his own achievements.

I hope to continue with my own accomplishments as I move towards my next birthday. I’m sure you’ll see me cry, but I hope it’s with joy.

Code of conduct

I’ve been loving my new job, but so exhausted lately that I’ve been falling behind on my blog posts. But I hate being flaky.  I don’t want to slack off, so it’s important to me that I keep this up regularly.  Not being a flake is part of my personal “code of conduct”, but also is being honest, so I am going to say right here that I am pulling this code of ethics from my capoeira group.

Not that I would lie about where I got it. I pretty much can’t lie about anything.  When I was five, I once stole a roll of lifesavers from Gemco (look that one up kiddies–it was basically what Target is now), and I freaked out so much that after I did it I was convinced I was going to hell. To avoid eternal damnation, I confessed to the priest at our church, but in the end I only had to say about five “Hail Marys” and three “Our Fathers” and all was forgiven.

Well, somewhere along the line I learned to have some morals. And respect is a huge part of it.  It’s probably why my capoeira group appealed to me so much (insert “oh jeez, she’s talking about that again”, but it’s true!).  They’ve got a code of ethics, which makes me respect the group all the more. I find myself turning back to this often and finding that it fits very well into my life, so I will just post it here:

Respect: Maintain respect for ourselves, each other, our ever-evolving capoeira community, the training space we share, and the art that we practice together.

Freedom: Create a safe space to express ourselves as the unique individuals we are.

Equality: Acknowledge everyone’s contribution as valuable. Never underestimate anyone – especially yourself.

Integrity: Be fair, impartial, and true to our word. Don’t cheat ourselves or others. Admit when we are wrong and strive to make it right.

Leadership: Serve as positive role models, both inside the studio while training and outside of the studio as community representatives of ABADÁ. Offer help when we can give it and ask for help when we need it. Hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions.

Community: Share experiences – both hard and easy, fun and frustrating, painful and pleasurable. Foster a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and wonder. Extend our skills, knowledge, friendship and time. Act for the betterment of the whole.

Education: Seek to understand and honor the rich traditions of capoeira. Choose to expand our knowledge and to take advantage of opportunities presented to us.

Strength: Commit to challenges. Push physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual limitations, building stronger bodies, minds, and souls. Approach fear and challenges as opportunities for growth, remembering that failure is a benchmark for future success, and achieved goals are marks of success to celebrate and benchmarks to exceed.

I look at these often as they apply to my life inside and outside of capoeira, and they don’t fail me in either space.  Even when I may “fail” in the sense of not meeting a goal, I never feel like I fail if I give it my best and do it according to my beliefs.