I found out about Capoeira through the movie Ong Bak and I thought, holly crap, this dude is moving like a video game character. I had no idea how it was even possible to do cartwheels while kicking someone in the face. I was blown away and thought, “I have to learn this thing!”. When I was in high school I finally got my shot when my cousin invited me to take a class in a place that was close to me. He would pick me up and we would go to the local Capoeira spot. There weren’t many students but I didn’t care! I was so ready to start kicking people in the face that I did everything my teacher told me. 60 pushups, 100 situps, splits for I don’t know how long. The training was tough and challenging, but it was fun and something that I’d never experienced before. I had done Taekwondo as a kid and thought the class would be something like that, but the movements were so different and wild and I was totally unprepared as a lanky highs school cross country runner. It took a few months, but I started to learn the kicks, I started getting a really visible 6 pack from all those sit ups, and I could do things like cartwheels, which I didn’t know how to do at the time.
HIGH SCHOOL CAPOEIRA KID
I remember trying to impress girls by showing them Capoeira moves I learned. They were definitely impressed, but then I remembered that I didn’t know how to talk to girls and couldn’t follow up on my smooth Capoeira moves (sigh….). That aside, I made tons of friends who were way older than me and we hung out when we could to do Capoeira and I even went to Capoeira events with them… me always being the little awkward high school kid with them. I learned how to dance to Brazilian music (which was great for meeting girls), and slowly my Capoeira started getting better. I still didn’t look like the guy from Ong Bak, but I felt that I was getting close. I even learned how to cool moves like armada dupla (still something of a signature move for me).
Starting Capoeira when I was a teen, was awesome. People knew me as the kid who did that dance fighting martial art thing, and it always gave me something to talk to people about. I’ll admit, I felt pretty cool and considering I was in high school, that helped keep away that feeling of awkwardness and deep social anxiety. I had a cool hobby that nobody else did and everyone else was curious about it.
COLLEGE CAPOEIRA AND WINNING AT ADULT-HOOD
Once I got to College, I really started making a bunch of Capoeira friends. The capoeira club I was in had over 60 students in it and I already had almost a year of experience. I didn’t feel like a total noob and that gave me a lot of confidence to meet people and get better. I thought I was pretty good, but I didn’t know how big the ocean was, I was just a fish in a pond. It was around that time that I started finding out about the group, Cordão de Ouro, and just seeing how good they were made me want to get better and join them one day (I did in 2013! A dream come true!!!).
I definitely feel like Capoeira prepared me for being an adult. I had a healthy hobby that’s given me a platform for just about any other interest I’ve had. Graphic design (I created capoeira logos and designs), Website building (I made my teacher’s and my websites), business (started a capoeira school in New York and have plans to expand to other areas), etc. I think that definitely gave me a leg up from a lot of adults I see who are generally unhappy with their work and their health. So many people are looking for friends and to feel healthy, and I just got it from Capoeira, for free… well not actually for free. Classes can be expensive when you don’t have money, but I’m glad I pushed on and kept training. I love doing it and I definitely feel like a superhero badass when playing Capoeira.