Friday, December 3, 2010


That was a first.

We spent capoeira class tonight working on a fairly simply defense (esquiva lateral, negative role) to a simple attack (meia lua de frente, meia lua de compasso) - and if you don't know what those are, it doesn't really matter. At the end of class we had a short roda, and in our in-class rodas we are supposed to do what we learned in class.

That's the theory, but if you end up playing Cojaqui, he's gonna throw some things at you that didn't come straight out of the lesson. So that nice defense you were practicing isn't much of a defense, and you have to come up with something quick. There I am, getting backed into a corner (metaphorically, since "roda" does mean circle), and I need to get back into the center without being kicked in the head.

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know that responding appropriately to attacks is something I have trouble with. We all have protective instincts, of course, but you have to replace those natural instincts with new ones if you're going to succeed at any sort of martial art - or even at a mean game of cards. That's hard when you have to think to yourself, "OK, self, what kicks do I know? Er, what is that coming at me? Oh, it's meia lua de compasso, and an appropriate response would be what again? Uh, can I have some more time?"

Right, so there I am, where I've been dozens of times before, and I go into angla nossa, which looks like meia lua de compasso (and remember, kids, that was part of today's lesson) and if someone is expecting de compasso allows you to dodge away. Which I did, back towards the center.

Don't think I looked graceful, or this was a stroke of brilliance, or that Cojaqui couldn't take me down any time he liked. Don't even think anyone except me noticed anything interesting about the move. But what I realized, and what nearly gave me a heart attack immediately after, was that I hadn't thought about the move in advance. I didn't plan it. Nor was it a rote drill - we have sequences we've learned that I can do almost mindlessly when instructed to do so. Instead, it was new instincts kicking in.

Does that sound like a little thing? After eight months, for the first time I had an unconscious, not-planned, not-inappropriate defense to an attack. Hooray, she can be taught.

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