The Axe and Energia is the Most Important

By Paqui (Springfield, Illinois)

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Photo: Claudia Passos

Certain people better watch their chauvinistic attitudes! If they ever go to Brazil or a female dominated Capoeira group, “cause they’ll get in that as…” especially in Brazil. Real “Malandros” and “Mandingueiros” know better. Capoeira is a survival art, out of all the martial arts this is one of the very few that came out of survival. Most other martial arts are based off of just defending yourself, not surviving. It was survival mentally, spiritually, and physically. Mentally they had to have “malicia” (malice) and “malandragem” (sorry…but you need to be a capoeirista or a native Brazilian to understand the real means!).

The arts of knowing how to dig holes underneath your opponents feet while they watch you do it, knowing how to make something look like it’s in more than one place at a time or like it’s in a different place than it really is. It’s know that when you’re in a crowd of people you always need to be alert, because out of everyone there someone has that knife, gun, or club. Knowing that when you see that cop approach you and he has that look in his eyes, you need to slip out or be ready to add his billy club/nighstick to your collection (read Acordeon’s book Capoeira: An Afro-Brazilian Martial Art, you’ll know what I’m saying then).

Spiritually by the music, the axe, the energy, the fun, the dance, the game. Capoeira liberated their soul no matter how hard their day was, they let it all go and played a game that will never die and never be forgotten. Capoeira was a stress/depression “saudade” killer for them. Physically by getting stronger, having harder/faster strikes, having good form, being able to do these movements without even thinking about it because your body knows them so well, being able to push your body to another level, being in shape, being flexible, and helping your body learn to do new things that can give you an edge.

“Malicia” was one of the most important things back then though, because if you’re not tricky and you’re not street smart you’re not going to survive. When it comes down to it though, the spirituality is the most important, because if you don’t have good spirits and you don’t feel like living none of that other stuff will matter. Not wanting to strive to be free and happy will stop you from learning any of this, and without good spirituality you’re screwed. Malicia, it’s the second most important. The “Axe” and “Energy”, is the most important. So, the physicality means nothing without those two. If you can do good hard kicks, it won’t matter if you don’t know how to get an opening to use it, and that’s where malicia comes in.

I’ve seen some really sloppy players work the crap out of other players because they have more malicia and/or malandragem, and in the end they “survive”. Also, you’ll never be motivated to learn those things if you’re not in good spirits, and you won’t play well if you’re playing angry or if you’re depressed or something like that. Physicality is most defiantly the lowest on the totem pole, but never forget it. You need all of them to become great someday, and you can’t be a good Capoeirista without all three working decently for you. “Salve a Capoeira”. The Axe and Energia is the Most Important!