In 2019, I got my blue belt in capoeira and the title of “instrutor”1. A year ago, my first capoeira teacher, Diego, invited me to a big capoeira event in Italy. He also suggested that it would be a good time for my “formatura”, a high-level graduation, involving a change in my belt and title to “professor”. I wasn’t sure in the beginning, but after thinking it over and consulting with people I look up to, I’ve accepted the invitation. My journey to formatura has begun.
I had six months to prepare, and I needed a plan to improve my physical and musical skills and deepen my knowledge of capoeira culture, history, and the Portuguese language. I talked with my teachers around the world and made a “Formatura Plan.” It included everything I had to improve: a physical training program, movements, and styles, music instruments and rhythms, books and skills. Every month, every week, and every milestone was planned out.
I was super motivated. I started to wake up at 5am and sometimes even earlier, doing a morning routine, reading, training, and fueling my body, mind, and soul. I started to workout 2-3 times per week on top of my 16 capoeira classes a week. I quit drinking, improved my sleep, and cut down on devices to recover faster. I found a Portuguese tutor and signed up for a proficiency test. It was a fantastic time!
But then life happened. I was running so fast and focused on “me me me” that I didn’t notice and ignored some issues related to my family, work, and the community I was building. Long story short – I had to move to another country, giving up my dreams and my life’s mission that had been guiding me for the past six years. Moreover, the timing of the move was ‘just perfect,’ so I had to cancel my trip and give up on formatura journey as well…
The whole world collapsed for me. I sank into depression for a few months. I didn’t train, didn’t want to study, or read. I became a couch potato, marinating myself in self-pity and disgust.
I don’t know what happened afterwards. Perhaps time healed me a little bit, or maybe it was because I had a family to look over. I began pulling myself together and moving a little bit. I contemplated my next steps and how to solve the problems. I even found some new guys to train with. All of this reminded me of why I started my path in the first place. I realized that I enjoy the game of capoeira itself, and I don’t have to be a master or a teacher of all teachers to relish in it.
Yes, being a pioneer of my art in China, I maintained a strong mindset to promote capoeira in this country. This cause fueled me for many years, and it was an amazing journey. However, I came to realize that I haven’t given it up. I have incredible students in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Wenzhou who are now teachers leading their own groups. Additionally, I have thousands of followers all around China who started capoeira with me through my online course. During my tour in China last month, I had the chance to meet some of them in person, and all of them have a solid foundation.
The pioneers were not always right. Usually they don’t enjoy the fruits of their work. (…)
Pioneers think the next generation will figure out everything by themselves. Please don’t believe that all your followers need to go through all the shit you went through. We need to make the next generation’s path easier.Mestre Cueca
For me, it was an important lesson, probably not the last, but undeniably powerful. Now, it’s time for me to move on and figure out new, more effective ways to serve my cause while entrusting a significant amount of work to a new generation.
This #50days50lessons writing challenge is the direct outcome of this final lesson. I hope you enjoyed reading all these stories and lessons.
Have a steady ginga, and see you Na Volta do Mundo!
1. Some capoeira groups have ranks, belts and titles. A blue belt in capoeira sometimes considered to equal a black belt in karate and other Japanese martial arts. ‘Instrutor’ literally translates as ‘instructor’ from Portuguese.