Posted on 31 January 2008 by chan
A RODA AT TOPAZIO
We walked down the cobbled stoned streets of the pelourinho, luminecent and glowing with energy. our fate however, lied within the darkness of the night sky and the spiradic glints of twinkly stars. Our destiny lay within the mystery, for better or worse. We were off again to visit some more groups of capoeira. We all squished into Mestre bamba’s car like a sandwich, and drove up around the corner. Mestre Bamba parked the car.
My heart froze.
I thought I had some kind of words to say, but when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. We were in front of topazio. All I could say was with a voice of utter disbelief was ‘Topazio?’
and all my mestre could do to reassure me was reply- ‘topazio’.
Topazio was one of those groups of capoeira everyone talks about with the utmost sincerity. They would be laughing and joking around about something completely random, but if someone was to mention the word topazio everyone in the room would turn around and their facial expressions would instantly change. As if reassuring themselves that you had mentioned that word they say ‘Topazio? oh yeah, those guys are gooood’. Screwing up their face with a painful expression, part pain, part fear.
Mestre Bamba once whilst we were watching tv and eating lunch, put on a batizado tape of topazio and I instantly started tensing up. I began to actually feel fear even though I was sitting and watching these guys play on a TV. They were huge! and literally tearing each other to pieces. It was amazing to watch. This group was notorious for having the biggest capoeiristas in Bahia, who loved to fight. So as I stepped out of Bamba’s car, everything around me went black and all I could see was the academy before me with the lit logo of grupo topazio staring at me from above.
ENTERING THE ACADEMY
From the car to the entrance I gave my mind a pep talk. I was ready for this, I had prepared, I had been training hard and many hours for this moment. The real test of my capoeira abilities. No matter who I saw in this academy before me, I will meet them with focus and determination and the want, the pure want to survive and play well. I stepped through the door and the first guy I saw was an absolute humungous beast of a man. He was half caste, literally twice as wide as me, taller, and built like a steam train. His shaved head, neck like a bull, and his muscles that bulged from places I’ve never seen before, led me to believe this guy was kinda large.
I focused my attention on the academy, It was around twenty metres deep and nearly 10 metres wide. A very decent sized academy. The floors, walls and ceilings were tiled, except for the roda in the middle which was like sandpaper. At the end of the room, a full gym was set up, complete with three boxing bags and a few mean looking guys hitting them to match.
We sat and stretched in the corner with Bamba, as a few more people arrived. As I was stretching I started to focus on some of the techniques I had been learning over the past couple of days. I settled my mind and kept reassuring myself I was ready for this. We were finally called over to form the roda after taking for what seemed ages. The berimbau began.
THE BATTLE WITHIN
The first thing I noticed was how differently their game was played. Not so much in the movements but in the strategy behind them. They distanced themselves quite a lot and waited most of the time for the other person to advance before they go in for the kill. Instantly my perception of this group changed, not so drastically that I was naive enough to open my game, but the reality of the game was more apparent. I entered the roda ready for everything to happen, but nothing did. He played capoeira with me but was not challenging in any way shape or form. We played our games with each other, at quite a distance, rarely moving in together to play capoeira close. The next game and the next, I kept fighting myself, to change my game and lose the preconception that these guys were invincible, because they were also fallible just like any other capoeirista.
I found myself in my game, and was happy with what I was doing. I faced these guys, overcoming more so the battle within, than the external battle. With that said, I now understood what mestre bamba said. “survive a roda with topazio, and you will survive in any roda around the world”. and it was true. I walked out of that academy as if I had smelt fresh air for the first time. I felt a deep happiness swell up inside me and a satisfaction I haven’t felt for a long time. As we walked to the car, the night sky darkly wrapped around our reality, with but only the mysterious stars to light the way.