Q&A with Joringel Goebel ’08, Daniel Bush ’09, and Jesse French ‘08 about Abada Capoeira.
What They Do:
Capoeira is a martial art and dance form originating among Brazilian slaves.
Daniel Bush (Palito) ‘09
Joined Abada Capoeria his first semester here, one week in. Served on the executive board since halfway through that first semester. Will be club president next year.
Joringel Goebel ‘08
Hometown: Troy, NY
Has been involved for almost two years total. Has been in charge of the club web site and a member of the E-board for 1 1/2 years.
Jesse French ‘08
Major: Electronic Arts, Media, and Communication
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Has trained in capoeira at RPI for 2 1/2 years. Current President.
Who joins your club?
People who are interested in culture, arts, acrobatics, self-defense, fitness, and video games that include capoeira characters everyone wants to be like “Eddy” in Tekken. Joringel
Almost all of our recruitment happens when a student first gets to RPI. Reasons for joining the club include curiosity, establishing a good exercise habit, and gaining flexibility, to name some of the most common. Palito
All kinds of people join our club! One of the great things about capoeira is that it attracts an extremely diverse group of people, because there is something for everyone. Capoeira encompasses dance, martial arts, music, history, religion, communication (which involves truly knowing yourself and others), and more. Some people are here because they want to get into great physical shape, others are interested in the music and rich history of the art form, and then there are those who just want to learn to backflip :D Jesse
Describe a typical get-together or activity.
An instructed class usually consists of warm-up and stretching, then learning basic movements, kicks, and escapes, then acrobatics like headstands, handstands, flips, cartwheels, later on singing, playing instruments, and “playing” one another. Other units of class include strength training like pushups, leg rises, etc. Joringel
We meet for classes two days a week, one of which is an instructor class. They last two hours, and follow a varied format based on what the instructor wants to stress that week/month/semester. Instructor class means we have a certified capoeira instructor come up to Troy from New York City weekly. We, Abada Capoeira RPI, are a daughter group of Abada Capoeira NYC, and we are all a part of Abada Capoeira, the largest capoeira group worldwide. Palito
I’m going to go more in-depth into our class structure. We have two-hour classes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. We often warm up using capoeira movements, and do some stretching. When an instructor is here from NYC (usually on Tuesday), we move on to partner work, where the instructor will explain a concept or technique and then have the students apply it in pairs. If the instructor sees that the students need work on one of the movements (say a kick or a dodge), then we will line up and drill that movement together. If the advanced students are leading class, then we don’t do any partner work that might involve contact.
The next section of class is acrobatics, or (in Portuguese) floreios. Floreios include aú (cartwheel), bananeira (handstand), macaco (hand-planted backspring), headstands, backflips, and more. This section of class is usually more relaxed, because we go one-by-one or in small groups across the floor, with the other members watching and giving encouragement from the ends of the room.
Finally, we break out the instruments, and form a roda (circle or wheel). The roda is where students get to test their skills with one another. Two people play “jogo de capoeira” (the game of capoeira) together in the center of the circle, while the rest of us clap and sing capoeira songs. The game of capoeira is like a bodily game of chess, a dialogue of movement. One person will make a statement or ask a question with their movements, and the other will respond in kind. After some time, other capoeiras in the circle will “buy the game,” or swap places with the players. The speed of the game is dictated by the speed of the music. The instruments include the agogo (bell), pandeiro (tambourine), atabaque (similar to a conga drum), and the berimbau, a bow-like instrument that commands the roda. Jesse
What sets your club apart from the rest?
Diversity. Community. Music. Acrobatics. Martial Arts. Culture. Fun. All that with bare feet :). I don’t think any other club can boast these attributes. Joringel
Capoeira is a wholly unique experience. It is impossible for me to tell you how capoeira has changed me. It is how I learn my life lessons now. Everything you need to know about living, friendship, trust, or lack thereof, bravery, leadership, self-improvement, and dedication you will learn from capoeira if you want to. I wish I could have talked to you, taken a survey about life before I joined the club. Then you will have seen firsthand how capoeira has taken a smart, determined student, and make him into a fully functioning warrior artist (poetic liberty used here). There really isn’t a way that I can convey what emotion I have right now, it only suffice to say that capoeira teaches how to live. When and old master was once asked what capoeira is, he replied ‘food.’ Every emotion can be captured in capoeira. It is a history class about the story of freedom. It is liberty, justice, and an outlet, to be brief. Many things will make you physically fit. capoeira will make you mentally healthy as well. If you decide to join the E-Board, it also makes you responsible as a leader, and a member of a professional team. When I look back at the days when I practiced Tae Kwon Do, I look at them as a waste. I learned how, but there was no ‘why’ given by the teacher. There is no better activity than capoeira. Not even sex. Palito
I think Palito’s answer pretty much says it all, so please allow me to quote some lyrics:
Sem capoeira eu não posso viver,
Sou peixe fora do mar
Passarinho sem voar,
Dia sem escurecer
Which translates to:
Without capoeira I cannot live,
I am like a fish out of the sea,
A bird without flight,
Day without night.
Does your club give you a chance to be involved in a greater community (outside from RPI)?
The people in this club actually care about the club and its members. The E-board is highly organized and professional. Capoeira requires consequence, flexibility, and commitment in actions not words, which is reflected by the behavior of members that stay for more than one semester. We have strong ties to our mother organization in Washington Heights, NYC. I think it is unique to have a connection between people with such different backgrounds and perspectives on life. Capoeira is something we have in common; it provides a base for trust. I trust the people from ACNYC and they know they can trust us here at RPI. I think a lot of problems between different parts of society come from misunderstanding and mistrust. Capoeira is a potent bridge between the middle class engineer at RPI and the extremely diverse (in terms of income, age, gender, education, race) membership of ACNYC. We diversify ACNYC and they diversify us. Joringel
Yes. Monthly, we travel to New York City for a class given by Freddy Correa, whom we call Furacao, meaning hurricane. All of Furacao’s students bring THEIR students to this class. It is very important to our organization to be connected and to feel connected. We are also planning to have an event this coming March the 29th, we think, where Troy High School students, and prospective RPI students from NYC will take part in a large workshop. The idea is to showcase RPI through capoeira. Palito
Absolutely! Membership in the club gives the opportunity to make connections with people from all over the world. ABADÁ is widespread across the globe, and it's like a brother and sisterhood you have food, housing and companionship wherever you go. Many members from NYC have traveled to Brazil, and the club here is hoping to organize a trip within the next several years. Closer to home, there are many chances to build friendships with students training in NYC for example, at the end of March we are hosting the annual E-board retreat, where students and teachers from ABADÁ-Capoeira NYC come up for the weekend to bond and train with the club here at RPI. As part of that event, we plan to hold an outdoor capoeira demonstration, free and open to the public, on Friday, March 28th. More details will be announced soon. Jesse
Are you gaining skills that will help you when you leave RPI?
In capoeira people learn to lose their fear of embarrassment in front of others. Individuals learn to sing or perform confidently in front of others even though they may not be good or even bad at it. It is the attempt that counts and we pay respect that accordingly. Everyone is measured by his or her individual progress, however little it may be. Everyone who practices capoeira also learns to judge superiority of others and to find a way to balance it out. Joringel
Again, absolutely! As president of the club, I have been learning how to manage my time and GET THINGS DONE - both valuable life skills! In my capacity as a student of capoeira, well...capoeira is the ultimate teacher, or perhaps more accurately, teaching assistant. The roda is a microcosm the universe of humanity is contained within it. I could spend the rest of my life participating in the roda and I would be happy. Jesse