Lessons from Ido Portal

Harsh language ahead. Beware!

I have always been sort of a geek. And even before going to my first capoeira class, I read the whole Wikipedia on the subject and came overprepared. I couldn’t do any movement, but I already knew about the traditions, lineages, styles in capoeira. Now I don’t recommend doing it extensively or having any high expectations before doing anything. Do your research, but “empty your cup” for new experiences.

“Empty your cup”

This was the first lesson I learned from Ido Portal. Ido is now a famous movement coach and former capoeira instructor. Ido has worked with various athletes, including MMA fighters such as Conor McGregor, and has become known for his “movement culture” – an unconventional and holistic approach to movement training.

I started capoeira in 2008 and already around that time Ido was already a well-known “professor de capoeira”, with a strict philosophy and scientific approach to movements. Various stories tell about his early capoeira fame, for example, he would come for a capoeira event in another country and play with 30 people in a row, alone, one by one.

Or another story goes, that when he already had a close circle of like-minded students in Israel, he would really go far on controlling pupils’ training and diet regiments. Back then, Ido was a “Paleo diet1 evangelist”. And once he saw his student going with a shawarma2 on the other side of the street. “Traitor!” – yelled Ido.

Around 2008, Ido became an early YouTuber: he would share his training routines on YouTube along with posts on Blogger platform. Later, he would call it “The Art of Floreio”, and it was popular among capoeira and movement practitioners around the world. I became his fan, and learned a lot from his videos and posts. In 2011, my first capoeira teacher, Diego Pappalardo, would invite Ido to China for the first time, and later became his close student.

“Empty your cup”3 — was the first phrase Ido said, before starting his first workshop in China. And now I still use it, when I see people come with high expectations and “full cups” of previous experiences.

Later there were many other lessons too, but three of them stood out the most in my memory.

Harsh language ahead. Beware!

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining

Basically it means “don’t deceive me” or “don’t try to fool me with a false or unconvincing explanation”. But later, I think it’s Ido’s way to remind us about Integrity.

The Truth Is Good Enough – the golden rule to build relationships and big organizations with good integrity. Everyone has, in their gut, a bullshit meter. We can feel when there is no integrity. It’s okay not to be perfect, but it’s not okay to sell bullshit to each other.

You can’t scare a hooker with a dick

Used as a reply, when person A challenges person B in a domain where B is highly skilled or experienced. Being a pro or adept in challenging conditions means those conditions cannot be effectively used against them as a form of punishment or as a means of intimidation and persuasion.

You’ve got more excuses than a pregnant nun

This is self-explanatory. Another good reminder to drop excuses and to embrace self-authorship, as a mindset. The ability to define and express your own personal authority and to rely on your own internal voice to make decisions on a daily basis.


1. Paleolithic diet – is a dietary approach that seeks to mimic the eating patterns of our hunter-gatherer ancestors from the Paleolithic era. The premise is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods that would have been available to humans during that time, before the advent of agriculture.
2. Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish featuring seasoned and marinated slices of meat, often cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served in flatbread with various toppings and sauces.
3. This probably comes from Bruce Lee’s famous quote “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” See the short interview with Bruce Lee here.