Friday, January 30, 2015

Left from Right, Arm from Leg

The early stages of learning something can leave you completely disorientated. I had glimpses of 'ooo, I think I just got that' in class four of my Capoeira experience, but a lot of the time I was trying to remind myself whether a limb was left or right, or whether it was an arm or a leg. Every now and then we paired up with another Capoerista (someone who plays Capoeria) and practiced a few moves. Sometimes I was paired with someone relatively advanced, and the were all very patient. On one occasion I was paired with someone at my level. The two of us had the same wide eyed attentiveness I see in my niece and nephew when they are a tad confused but very keen. We would slowly go through the required routine, realise we were in a knot, laugh, and start again. Sometimes we would get it and think boom. Then try again, and it was gone.

I had been out of action for a few days with a cold, but was feeling good. I wasn't as lost this time. Perhaps it was because the Thursday night class is focussed on beginners and there was a guest teacher. There is a Dance Workshop on Sunday and a friend of the teacher (Ponciano Almeida) is here to join him for some demonstrations. They learnt together as little chaps in Brazil. Years and years of practice mean when they play everything flows. They aren't focussed on the mechanics. They can however slow things right down and demonstrate each bit in a fully conscious way.


When you are focussed on the mechanics, there are too many things to think about - so one limb can end up somewhere you didn't tell it to go. I would be focussed on trying to copy the teacher as I twist around and would realise that I was facing exactly the wrong way. A sense of humour is helpful. You are training your body to have an awareness of where it is without your help. I know from yoga that half of the challenge with inverted postures is this body awareness and balance. When you are in a head stand, you actually have a more solid base than you do when you are standing. Your elbows are bigger than your feet. Everything just feels weird because it is upside down. 

Perhaps this relates a little to Rugby. If your fitness isn't there, it is difficult to concentrate on the game or be in the right place at the right time.  When everything connects, the best players seem to have a sense of where the ball is going before it even gets there. Like Zinzan Brooke or Gary Teichmann who were there when they were needed to tackle, but when the ball was kicked downfield they also magically appeared.

Not magic, they also had to start somewhere.


Related Posts:
1) First Class - you have to start somewhere.
2) Deep End - learn a little, and enjoy.
3) Shattered - 'This impact is bliss for your body'.

I have started learning Capoeira at The Dance Attic in Fulham as one of my First 100 hour projects. Let me know if you would like to do one too, and share the experience.
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