Posted on 31 December 2007 by chan
The Red Cordao
The world went wonky as I tried to stand up properly, face stinging the taste of blood filling my mouth.I awake to my alarm clock telling me impatiently it was time. I laid in bed for a few minutes, wide awake, still as a lake on a full moon. I knew that it was to all begin as soon as I moved, so I laid still trying to prepare myself for the day that lay ahead. This was it, this was the day in what dreams would come true, where we were to conquer all of our insecurities, all of our fears and find the potential within. I arose quietly and climbed down stairs to have a shower and stretch. Cabaca was already at the academy and was showering. He must have been there since six. We stretched and chatted. one thing that stuck in my mind about this conversation was the importance of one ideal. You and your opponent are the only people who exist in the moment, make everyone and everything else disappear.
Cabaca and nigrete took me out to a breakfast place and we chatted about my upcoming adventures in england and the world. As I was walking back to the academy I could feel the day dawning into a beautiful one, full of sun and heat. The day had finally at last come, and I felt I was ready. I could feel my focus, I could feel the energy. I jogged my mind through a few situations I may encounter along the way, as I had done a thousand times before, over the previous week. The air was calm and after a few stretches and warm ups I went and sat down by myself and looked out the window. I was completely in the moment, I was not fearing what was to come, more so eager with anticipation to meet this amazing challenge, head on. I still did not know whether i was to be getting my blue or red cordao, so there was much expectation as well as invisible pressure. I had delved and dealt with those demons the week beforehand so they were, thankgod, not so apparent on the day. My mind focused, my body ready our batizado commenced. Slowly but surely more and more mestres, instructors and professores rocked into the academy. It was almost as if they were lining up, one by one to try and break our confidence.
Australians at the Associacao de Capoeira Mestre Bimba 2004
10, 15, 21 people counted here and ready to play, and more still arriving. Mestre borracha, mestre baixinho, mestre curio, mestre dinho, mestre orelha, contra mestre toni amongst others. I thought of everyone back at home and instantly I felt a good energy pass through my body. I could feel the love in the air from all of the people who were a part of the associacao. They were all such an instrumental role in our growth and development over the two months that we had spent training there. I could feel a nervousness and worry that they had for us, which really made me undersand how much they cared for us. So many good times with the boys, through good times and bad we all went through them together creating a bond greater than ever. Bamba commenced talking a bit about himself and how he grew up, into such a huge responsibility that he has today. He also talked about the various things the associacao was doing in terms of today. He then passed on the microphone onto each of the other mestres who each said a word or two about themselves and there group. As I was sitting listening and watching, I could feel a nervousness from bamba as well; I didnt know exactly why he was nervous, I guess it was a mixture of things, only time could tell.
The Capoeira waiting game
I went through phases of tiredness, focus, nervousness but mostly going through in my head ways to be able to change my mood in the roda if I got stuck in fear or anger. I was preparing myself for war. The various presentations began. Puxada de rede, maculele and then the kids from jaqueras batizmo. I tried to relax and enjoy the puxada de rede and maculele, but my mind seemed to be focused on the moment of the batizado. I must have looked like a zombi as my expression was blank and staring into infinity most of the time. Our time arrived, mestre bamba called us to the pe da roda one by one to recieve our batizado names. I was first called over to play with Mestre Dinho from topazio. During the presentations he had arrived with profesor rudson. Dinho at 54 years old, rough face with a barrelled body, with years of beatings and beating. He reminded me of a short maui. you could feel his presence in the room, the greatness of experience he has ventured through. Like a famous persons body guard, professor rudson follows. A perfect image of a capoeirista in his prime. His muscles and body structure complete and porportunate to the rest of his stature. his face at one with attentiveness and awareness. Ready for anything, his aura one that radiates a type of domination over his personal indifferences with him himself. At the time I had no idea that it was professor rudson, all I saw was a really tough looking capoeirista. As I entered the roda with mestre dinho my mind fixed, my body ready my heart open. I found myself in a mind game. Every advancement, every movement a test, no huge amounts of physical force, just judgements, just perception. It was as if by call and response we were conversing, dinho asking the questions and myself responding accordingly. I was at constaant war with myself, continuously changing my focus between my own actions as well as dinho. it was as if I was simultaneously passing between my body and his, trying to understand both his intentions and mine. As time went by I could feel him closing in. By tradition, it is the mestres duty to try and prevent the student from recieving his cord or batizado name. By giving quedas and trips it will show the audience how ready the capoeirista really is to move forward into the next level of capoeira. I could feel the pressure being pushed slowly more and more, I hardened my mind, closing in, my concentration squeezed tighter and tighter as kicks and various tentitive quedas were applied. they were not too hard to get out of, what was hard was to keep thinking about the game and the bigger picture, showing dinho that I too had the ability to put pressure on him whilst recieving pressure. I waivered in and out of reflexes, sometimes just getting out of the way but sometimes using my mind to find an interesting way to respond so as to make him also have to think. Dinho shook hands with me and we went to the side of the roda. When bamba asked what was my nickname to be, his face went blank for a moment, he looked at my hair and said, cabelo arrepiado, which means hair that stands on end, and from there on, I had been baptized by the famous mestre dinho.
The Roda of Capoeira is in the mind
I felt so relieved but yet so energized by the game I had played. I had played a game that I have always dreamed of playing meeting the huge challenge that was before me and coming out of it a better person. Mestre bamba in the training before the batizado the monday before emphasised greatly that no matter who steps up to play you see them as a capoeirista and not by there fame as a capoeirsita. I watched the others play one by one, still dazed and amazed that everything was already happening. I t seemed all too fast. Watching each australian fight there demons was amazing to watch. All of their training, all that they had learnt both physically and mentally was amazng to watch all come out at once. Their pure determination seeped from their skin. One by one, we played and watched each other, judging our opponents games, trying to find holes and attributes. The room was not as full as expected thankfully enough, it was hard enough to breath as it was. Dozens of children from jaquera, a handful of spectators and around 30 capoeiristas packed to the sides and behind the berimbau. Luckily enough their was enough space to distance oneself and move around the roda easily enough. We were then all called to play cutting each other out and playing Capoeira, not capoeira regional.
The berimbau turned on and the singing errupted, my breating became heavier, trying to grasp that extra little bit of air before the pounding that was about to come. We all hesitate at first, not knowing exactly how to take it and then we all dive in, the beat of the berimbau buzzing at our feet. To be continued