In September 2018 I unexpectedly found myself stranded in Buenos Aries for 28 days. Read on to find out more about my experience of Capoeira in Buenos Aires. For information on money, accomodation and sites in the city, check out my other post Bound in Buenos Aires.
As a capoeirista, usually the first thing I do when I arrive in a new city is find a group (or a couple of groups) to train with. Fortunately for me, Buenos Aires was brimming with capoeira. While I visited quite a few groups on a one-off basis, I spent most of my time training with Professor Jaqueira from group Oriaxe and Mestre Neguinho who has an Angola group in the city.
Professor Jaqueira is the teacher of an Argentinian friend of mine who lives in Salvador, and she put me in touch with him when I arrived. He is part of group Oriaxe, which spun out of Topazio and is headed up by Mestre Marcos Gytauna. The group has a weekly Friday roda in the Mestre’s academy, which is a bit further out of the city, and I was fortunate to be able to visit and participate a number of times.
I was also able to take part in a street roda that Professor Jaqueira organised, and meet capoeiristas from lots of different groups.
Oriaxe’s style of capoeira, being related to Topazio, is quite ‘fighty’, which was a bit different from my normal style. But that was great because it meant that I was doing things that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was a great way to learn. Despite the seemingly aggressive style of capoeira, I found that each of the classes with Professor Jaqueira was very joyful. They start each class with a salute ‘Capoeira so é alegria’ (Capoeira is only happiness), and it definitely felt true when training, talking and passing time with Professor Jaqueira and his students. I felt like they really adopted me into the group and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I left feeling like I had made some real friends in the city.
Mestre Neguinho also went out of his way to make me feel welcome in Buenos Aires and helped with the struggles of adapting to the city. As a Baiano (man from Bahia), like my capoeira Mestre, I found that he shared many of the same philosophies about capoeira as my Mestre and my group. I mostly train regional, and Mestre Neguinho’s is an Angola group, and while I have trained a bit of Angola in my time, I still have so much to learn, so again I was working outside of my comfort zone, which I found incredibly stimulating and rewarding.
I loved Mestre Neguinho’s style of capoeira, and also really liked his style of teaching. One of the reasons that I have struggled with Angola in the past is that I don’t always understand why things are done in certain way that are different to what I have learnt in regional, and this is rarely explained. But Mestre Neguinho took to time to explain why it is important to hold an arm in a certain way or move your feet in a certain way while playing Angola. Also, I often feel with capoeira that we do the training together, but when it comes to the roda we are kind of on our own, left to figure out what works when actually playing by trial and error, watching, and just osmosis. In the training rodas in Mestre Neguinho’s class, rodas were about learning. If a student was in a position to do a good move while playing in the roda, but didn’t take it, he would stop the roda and get the students to return to the position, and ask them to talk through their options before continuing. It was a great way to learn, and not just for the students in the roda, as the other students watching could also benefit from the insights.
The day before I was finally able to leave Buenos Aires, Mestre Neguinho had a roda in his academy with capoeiristas from around the city. The axé of the roda was so good, and it was definitely the best way to finish the Capoeira part of my trip to Buenos Aires. I was just a little sad not to be staying for another week as his mestre, Mestre Cabore was arriving the following weekend!
When I got back to Salvador, I was asked about the experience of training capoeira abroad (of course Salvador is also abroad for me, but…). I said that the experience helped me realise that with Capoeira, when you arrive in a new place you already have a community and new group of friends waiting for you. Capoeira connects us, and if you arrive in a new place with respect and a willingness to learn and share, you can make some incredible connections.