I lie to my students. Whenever I receive a new Capoeira student, I tell them, “It will get easier, just keep coming.” The reality is that dedicating yourself to improving in Capoeira does not get easier with time; it often gets harder.
During the United Capoeira Association’s 2019 batizado in Berkeley, California, I planned to give a brief speech. During my graduation, I hoped to share some advice from thirteen years of Capoeira experiences. There was much to celebrate during the event, including the retirement of Mestre Acordeon and Mestra Suelly. My speech did not happen.
After the batizado, I decided to write this blog post and create a special vlog episode to fulfill what didn’t happen at the event.
Yes, certain things in Capoeira become easier with consistent practice. It does get easier to execute many of the basic kicks and acrobatic movements. Playing Capoeira’s percussion instruments and singing will get better.
It’s the discipline to continue training outside of class that becomes more difficult with time.
I used to get angry and frustrated during my challenging days in Capoeira. My rage-producing training sessions include moments when it is hard to do the basic stance, ginga, or raise a leg to do a kick. Reflecting on these sessions now, I have a different perspective.
When my lower back is sore from doing ginga, and my shoulders feel tight, this is an opportunity to tap into my higher self.
I tell myself that these difficult training days are God’s way of testing me to ensure that I want Capoeira as part of my life. Capoeira is one of the resources I use to impact lives. My ability to persevere is central to my life’s mission.
Your challenges are a test. You can transform your life’s difficult moments into tragedies or opportunities for growth. The choice is yours.
On a Sunday morning after December's batizado, I went hiking with my sons to the highest peak in Antigua. As we climbed, Mt. Obama, I reflected on my years in Capoeira and shared training tips. With the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing this week, I am more appreciative of these moments with my children.
My reflections on Capoeira and life, along with some phenomenal captures of the trek, produced this month’s vlog episode. Please take a look now and buy my second book, Capoeira, Black Males, and Social Justice: A Gym Class Transformed, that documents my experiences with teaching Capoeira in Chicago.
In the book, you will find similar insights to this blog post and vlog upload, along with lesson plans that guided my classes. It is an excellent resource for teachers with interests in culturally responsive physical education and the engagement of black boys in meaningful activities.
Have a great weekend, and remember that while we don’t have much control over what happens to us, we can control our responses. Challenges can serve as our destruction or the seeds that cultivate greatness.