On March 3rd, the 2018 iteration of Red Bull paranaue is coming to Bahia once more! In 2017 this competition garnered a lot of controversy in the Capoeira community. For those unfamiliar, this event is a competition between Capoeiristas to see who is the most physically complete practitioner. The competition has a selection process in a few major cities, and finalists are chosen to go to the finals where they play a series of games and a group of judges (mestres) determine who is the winner. The controversy began from day one and I heard a lot of teachers talk about how many people asked them what they thought about Red Bull Paranaue. Some thought positively, some thought negatively and over all the question still lingers on whether or not Red Bull Paranaue is good for Capoeira. This article is meant to look at this competition and see how Red Bull could bring some positive or negative changes to the community.
I think before we even talk about what is good for bad about Red Bull Paranaue, we have to think about what partnering with Red Bull even means for the community. The first thing that I think of is that Red Bull is a massive organization with the infrastructure to host many kinds of events. Last year, Red Bull organized a big stage for the finalists of this competition to perform and people have to realize how much of a logistical effort it is to coordinate everything. It’s a lot of work and Red Bull has the infrastructure needed to put on a big event like this. Having the money and the manpower to put on an event like and I think it’s worth us thinking about how those resources are allocated. Do we think there should be more Mestres in attendance? Should there be a music component? Should there be a part of the event dedicated to non-competitors where people can just play Capoeira? It’s something to think about.
Red Bull has a big fan base. There are people who watch it because the enjoy extreme sports, e-sports, any other forms of high level performance. Very few people know about Capoeira and Red Bull Paranaue might be a way to bring the art to the people in a way that can get them excited and maybe want to try it.
Some things that I think could improve on this end would be a live stream of the event and an official videography that can upload to Youtube. One thing I noticed about last year’s event was how difficult it was to find videos! Commentators would be another thing that could improve the accessibility of the event. We don’t usually think of commentators for Capoeira, but for something where you might have a lot of new people watching, it might be worth it to invest in some casters in English and Portuguese who can break down what is on display.
Although it is not common, some businesses sponsor players to do what they do best! Having a sponsorship from a major organization like Red Bull or any other organization can be a great benefit to a professional Capoeirista. Being in Capoeira does not make very much money and having a company that can support our players as they train could mean that our practitioners can reach an even greater level of skill. Sponsorships can come in the form of direct payments, flights to events, or other benefits that the company can provide. The benefit for these companies is that they get more eyeballs on their brand, which for them is basically a form of marketing. What does this mean? Well, if you’re someone like Mestre Tico, or Xuxo, a brand might look at you and say, hey this guy is amazing, let's sponsor him/her to go to events and promote our brand. For many people this can be a win/win scenario.
A possible downside is of course that Capoeira will become more commercial with expectations from your sponsors to be active and promote the brand. The other question is, how how do companies know who to sponsor? One way could be a competition like Red Bull Paranaue, but it’s not clear and we’ll have to see what happens if Capoeira ever reaches that point.
One fear I have of Red Bull Paranaue is that it will make Capoeira vanilla. What do I mean? I wonder how Capoeira games will change as a result of this competition. Will people play more defensive? Will they be encouraged to do more or less takedowns? The point is that once people know how the judges evaluate their games, they will no doubt start molding their games in a way that will increase their chances of winning. This might have the effect of making the games more homogeneous (ie. vanilla). I’m not saying this will definitely happen, but for anything you do there are ups and downs, and this is a potential downside we should watch out for.
All in all, I’m very excited for Red Bull Paranaue! This competition looks so awesome and I would love to go see it next year. Watch for coverage about Red Bull Paranaue on my blog, and you can also look at the official page on Red Bull’s website.