Friday, December 10, 2010

This too Shall Pass: the Angry Brazilian man

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.
Paulo Coelho

One of the things I hate doing is anything I am bad at. Blame this on my achievement orientation or whatever but being bad at something makes me feel vulnerable and well, stupid. But I guess everyone feels that way with things they suck at--some just handle the occasion with more elegance than others.

Last night, I accepted this little known fact: I am not good at everything. And then I embraced it. I took Clint to a Capoeira class last night because he's mentioned a few times how much he misses taking lessons. To be honest, I thought of Capoeira the way some people think of the white crayon--what's the point? Are you really going to kick someone's ass with Capoeria? Will you really color using the white crayon?

But 30 minutes into last night's lesson, I gained a new respect for Capoeira dancers. The Mestre leading our class was an intense little man who kind of reminded me of the man who plays the "Angry Elf" author in Elf (but about a foot taller): Peter Dinklage .
He had a thick accent and when he spoke to me specifically, I had no idea what he said after "Are you okay?" He was very athletic though. After trying some of the motions and exercises the Mestre taught us, I had a new respect for him, his coordination and strength, and Capoeira in general. Not only did I start sweating rain droplets, I also felt the tension in my hip flexors and hamstrings reminding me that I am not a flexible bendy straw. I definitely pulled out a few awesome unnecessary Matrix moves and felt really uncoordinated. I was ready to quit at the half-way point but then I reminded myself that 1) how disrespectful would that be to the class and the Mestre (who ended up giving me private tutelage from time to time which proved difficult since I could barely understand him past the music and Capoeira vocabulary); 2) that would have been cheating myself--I had no good reason to give up other than my own insecurity.... so I kept going; and 3) "this too shall pass"--I was already halfway through, I can accept that I am not the best and then give my best effort for the last 45 minutes.

While I still am not convinced that a Capoeira fighter would stand a chance against any other martial arts fighter, I have new respect for Capoeira due to the fitness, coordination and strength required to execute the movements. I also appreciated the humbling experience and all the nice fellow students who chipped in to help me understand particular moves. I'll probably never go again (and the Mestre will probably be happy about that) but I think it was a good lesson in patience, humility and trying new things.

So for your viewing pleasure, an old Friends clip. The girls decide to go to a tap class which Monica supremely sucks at:
(I was somewhere between a Phoebe and a Monica. The clip's embed code was disabled.)

And for fun....


  1. Hahaha.. FUN!!! I thought Capoeira was a type of dance?! I could have sworn I taught a non-fiction reading lesson about different styles of dance last year... and Capoeira was one of them because I had trouble with the name.. but maybe it was something close to that! In any case.. its always good to try something new.. even if you do suck at it!! Count it up as a good workout at least, right??!!

  2. Hmmm. Here are some clips for entertainment.

    Here's a real capoeira fighter (starts at 2:30):

    And here's a capoeira wannabe: