Looking Out To Sea

Cordão de Ouro capoeira with CM Papa Leguas

Recently Contra Mestre Papa Leguas of Cordao de Ouro was invited to teach sessions in Edinburgh and Glasgow by CDO Scotland. I attended one of the 3-hour classes in Glasgow to expand my experience a bit and see what other groups do when they’re being taught in their own style.

(I have previously been to large workshops organised by Malungos and Senzala but the guest teacher has been an Angola Mestre — Camaleao and Carlao respectively. This was a different circumstance because the teacher was definitely “something different”.)

The training room in Wellington Church on the corner of Southpark Avenue and University Avenue is a nice venue. Very clean and neat with some kind of textured vinyl-like flooring. I arrived and met a few people that I knew from training in Edinburgh and the regular open roda that we have to raise money for charity.

The class started with a discussion about body mechanics. The example was “to do an au you must throw your hips in the air, not put your hands on the ground” because “to do an au sem mao you must throw your hips in the air not throw your head at the ground” (paraphrased). I found this interesting and was looking forward to some biomechanical-oriented teaching which I think would help me a lot. Sadly it didn’t appear.

We did some plenary work on ginga and faking a rabo de arraia and spinning away again. Looking round the room I wasn’t the only person failing to see what he was actually doing, as he wasn’t describing the moves and he was executing them too fast to really follow.

This sequence built up into something longer, tacking on other moves which were also poorly understood. This was one of the defining moments of the class for me. Some of the sections were aimed at quite proficient players and the group as a whole didn’t reflect that. If it had been a trainers session rather than an open/all-levels session it would have been understandable.

The pairs work was similarly odd — maybe more for me than other people, I don’t know. I’m trying to be objective and subjective at the same time. Or at least subjective with the knowledge that I don’t want to come across as believing “they do it differently so they must be wrong”.

At the end was a split roda (one bateria, two simultaneous games) so everyone could have a few fun games to finish off. The music was something that took me a bit by surprise. The tempo was fast-paced and the singing didn’t match the rhythm at all. I think it would have been hard to match the speed of the bateria actually. This in particular was very alien to me.