Building a Culture

CULTURE: from the Latin cultus, which means care.

Culture is all a community’s beliefs, values, and attitudes, and how they influence the behavior of its members.

Culture in a community is like waves in a pond. When you throw a stone into the water, the ripples will surely reach a wider area than the initial splash. The initial splash is a leader of the community; he or she is the embodiment of the culture. Then comes an inner ring, and another ring, and another ring. Each ring influences the next one, but the initial impact comes from the center.

The question is: what can we do to make sure our ripples are spreading the right message?

Strong culture built on good foundation.

Columns of a good foundation

  • Personal development. People from day one, understand that we come here to develop ourselves, to become a better version of ourselves. Everyday we are working to improve ourselves.
  • Total freedom through absolute responsibility. Do what you want, but with this freedom comes responsibility to accept the outcome of your actions. If you do think other people are uncomfortable with it, very quickly, the community will let you know.
  • Integrity. “The truth is good enough”. Use malicia and malandragem in the real world, or as a physical aspect of your game, but let’s not to use it against each other in the community.
  • Safety. Culture of safety: physical, emotional, psychological safety. We care about each other. We play hard, but we don’t hurt each other. And if we hurt somebody in the roda, the roda is stopped and everybody goes to hospital together.
  • Personal expression through collective collaboration. Everyone is unique in playing, singing, expressing, but in order to create this “campo de mandinga”1, the field where you can practice these things is by collectively collaborating – so we can have a class, a roda, an event.
  • Win – win – win. Everything we do has to be good for everybody: for a student, for the teacher, for the group.
  • In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. If every teacher would treat all students the way he would like to be treated. If every roda we play with each other the way we would like to be treated…

The best way to foster a culture is by becoming the poster boy of the culture. If you are reading books and talking about it, there is a big chance that it will become a culture. If you are training and eating healthy, that will duplicate. It will come through the small talks at the end of class, through your Instagram stories, through the guests you choose to bring to your event. It will become the compass that directs every action you take.

— From talks with Cueca

Further reading
  • “The Culture Code” a book by Daniel Coyle

1. Campo de mandinga – literally “field of mandinga”, refers to the playing field or space where the capoeira game takes place. “Mandinga” itself is a term often used in capoeira to describe a sense of cunning, trickery, or a strategic and elusive style of play.