Many years ago (does that make me sound old) I encountered a friend of mine as I was walking down a hallway. I jokingly put up my fists. In the next instant, he disappeared. One more instant, and his foot was about an inch from my face. Once my brain was able to process what had happened, I realized that he had somehow dropped to the ground, stood on his head and thrown a kick. That was my very first encounter with Capoeira – it was brief, but I never forgot it. My friend told me about it and invited me to classes. He regularly encouraged me to check out the classes, but I was busy and constantly broke at the time. About five years later, I finally got around to taking a class. (It was six years before I went to the particular class he had told me about).
In the years between first hearing about Capoeira and taking a class, I had learned a little more about it and even seen some demonstrations. I started the class already having some familiarity with the basic movement, jenga, and with some basic kicking knowledge gained from other martial arts I’ve dabbled in. I felt pretty good about myself throughout the class – it seemed like I was picking things up pretty quickly. That feeling changed when I got into my first rhoda. The rhoda is the circle where you actually do Capoeira. Some call it a dance and some call it a game. That first time in the circle, with feet rapidly flying toward my face, it didn’t feel like either. It felt like “run for your life!” Now, whenever I see a newcomer step into his first rhoda and freeze up, I chuckle to myself as I remember my first time. I also think about the pain they’ll be feeling the next day – Capoeira has a way of introducing you to muscles that you didn’t know you had.
Due to life’s inevitable complications, I started and stopped several times. My last stretch was very definitely my most intense. I was taking classes multiple times a week, and I even started taking some classes teaching a different style of Capoeira with the hope that the diversity of styles would help improve my overall abilities. The effects of the intensity were definitely beginning to show . . . right up until I stopped. For three years.
For three years, I’ve been promising myself that I would get back to Capoeira one day, but time kept passing and it kept not happening. Well, about a month ago, I finally made it back. The first few classes were physically and mentally painful. The physical part was because I was out of shape. As for the mental part – I knew that I wouldn’t come back and instantly be at the same level that I was at when I stopped, but it was disappointing to see how far I had actually fallen. Still, despite my disappointment, I knew that I would get there, so I’ve been working hard. The hard work is paying off – even now I am doing much better than a month ago. I wanted to write about this now so that later, when I’m better than I was before I stopped, I can read this and smile.
If you’re interested in trying Capoeira, I found this directory through Google, though I’m not sure how accurate and up-to-date it is. You might be better off typing “capoeira” and your city or state name into a search box. If you’re looking for Philly area classes, hit me up or look here.