The End of an Era

The Skinny

I used to attend a Capoeira academy a few years ago. Actually, I attended several. I would leave because I don’t particularly care for politics, or poorly-run schools that keep increasing their fees, even though there is no reason to do so.

The last academy I attended was the longest of any, clocking in at about 2 or 3 years. Throughout my time there, I had to learn and unlearn many things. The kicker was that a lot of the things I had to unlearn I learned from the very teachers that were asking me to unlearn. It was very frustrating.

I watched in heartbreak as potentially great students were left by the roadside because they didn’t learn fast enough. And the students that were gifted were fed greater and greater techniques as the rest dwelled in mediocrity. New students that came to try out for the classes were not given any help, and were left frustrated. Consequently they would not come back.

I designed the school web page with no guidance (not for my lack of asking), and the promise of payment was brought forth. That never happened. They ended up paying me with free classes for a year, only to turn around and mistreat me.

One of my best friends (who also attended this place) and I sat down with them to discuss the state of things, not as students, but fellow martial artists. It was apparent then that these people did not want to listen to reason, and so we left. I walked away from all those free classes, and the time I had invested.

A waste? Not really.

The lesson I learned was that I had to be true to myself. If I want to be a good martial artist, I have to make sure that wherever I go, I am really learning things. My old instructors are also not really bad people. They are good at the core, I am sure. They just didn’t know how to run a business properly, and they had a lot to learn as leaders of a martial arts community.

The Solution

One of the things I wanted to do was to continue learning and playing Capoeira. I started a study group (with a good friend of mine) for martial arts & Capoeira using another friend’s common room (In their building). I had invited people out to try Capoeira, so that they could build the basic skills necessary to go to a real academy and learn without feeling left in the dust. I also left it open for people in my former academy to come out and brush up on their skills so that they could learn more effectively from where they were attending.

It started out well enough, but attendance over the year never really increased to the level where we could have real games with the real flavour of Capoeira. It just turned into a session about movements.

But people did learn. At least I hope they did.

The End?

Yesterday I told the attendees that it was the last class. There would be no more.

Due to my current Blue Belt status in Karate, I have the opportunity to assist in classes. This would really help me out in achieving my goals in Karate. I have spent so long doing various martial arts, and never really taking the final steps in any of them, that I feel it is about time to think about myself and actually attain a rank somewhere that is meaningful.

I also don’t like to sacrifice time that I could potentially be spending with my wife.

It’s really that simple.

Ironically, last night we had five new people show up to learn, all of which expressed disappointment at the prospect of the last session. One of the students brings her mom once in a while, and they brought some friends who are Brazilian musicians who invited us to use their church common area. They also possess all of the instruments (and the knowledge to play them), and are excited at the prospect of Capoeira.

In a few months, when things have settled for me, I might run a workshop or something with those folks once a month, as I really enjoy playing Capoeira and helping people learn.

It would also be fun to have games in the park or on the beach.

Funny Enough…

I just met with one of my former instructors to sign a contract for the use of my photos if they require it (not more than 10 minutes ago). It’s nice that he is finally taking a more professional approach to the whole thing. He is starting an official academy (in his own space), and is learning the ropes of running a business.

I wish him well.

13 Responses

  1. I admire you for continuing in Karate. It shows a lot of determination. I know a little of what you’ve been through with the former Capoeira groups and i know that you really put your all into whatever you do, so it’s understandable that you don’t have the time to continue the study group that you were providing for free. 🙂

  2. What Jorge has left out is that I’m really just a jackass and not really one of his best friends, just a bad influence.
    😉 Seriously though, it’s an honour to be referred to as such….thanks, Jorge! As the friend that used to attend the same school, my experience was a little different from Jorge’s. We each specialised in different areas within the group. For the most part I would agree with Jorge’s assessment in his specialty. In mine, I have a slightly different assessment. Yes, at times beginners and slower learners were left by the wayside but the bigger problem for me was that the opposite problem occured. Because of the constant influx of new students (that did not always continue) there was little advancement for the more senior students. Some of the students were okay with that, but not me. I chalk it up to the relative lack of experience as a teacher and perhaps even as a capoeirista (compred to other teachers) of our instructor.
    In the end, it probably all worked out for the best.

  3. I have to admit, after seeing a couple of Capoeira classes at my YMCA, I really have admiration for people that have the drive to learn those moves. Its pretty amazing to watch. And quite intimidating for those who would like to try it.

  4. Your a good guy Jorge, and a good husband. Its nice that you want to spend time with your wife, and try to teach karate. Best of luck to you.

  5. Thanks for all your compliments guys.
    You didn’t really need to write them, as this wasn’t a fishing expedition, but it is appreciated.
    Your support means a lot.

    Tien, that’s the longest post you’ve written. You’d better watch out. Write any more, and you’ll have to get your own blog space. 😉

  6. The End of an Era!

    I was going to name my post about this event the same thing…

    Here’s a little something for you, Dr. J…

    Spinning kicks lash out
    Like the fury of the storm
    Jogar Capoeira!

    and another

    On top of the world
    As the Eagle high above
    I’m a blue belt, bitch!

  7. I would have written more, but this page wouldn’t let me.

  8. Your Capoeira could never stand up to my Ninjitsu. My pockets are always laden with shurikens and caltrops. And beef jerkey–ninjitsu makes me hungry sometimes.

  9. Your ninjitsu is no macth for my carnivore-do, especially if you have beef jerky in your pocket.

  10. I know this was probably a hard decision for you in some respects, Jorge, but I’m proud of you. Good luck with the Karate. I hope that you can achieve your goals with this.

    And on the plus side, and extra time with your wife can’t be bad. 🙂

  11. Dave: Prepare to Die by the hand of ninjitsu!
    Tien: Is that Beef Jerky in your pocket, or you just happy to see me?
    Dave: Errr…
    Tien: Can’t take the chance! [CHARGES FORWARD AND BITES DAVE IN THE GROIN.]

  12. Wow.
    I just re-read this when I moved it over today over lunch.
    It’s pretty amazing how things have progressed for me in Martial Arts.

    I’m really enjoying where I am now, and the only regrets I have are not being able to play Capoeira with a few select friends.

    My other instructor and I had lunch the other day, and from the sounds of it she’s started her own little Capoeira class which sounds really great! She’s progressed so far (as I hope I have) since we last met.

    I wish her all the luck in the world in her endeavour, and hope to visit her class sometime.

  13. […] Tien is one of the reasons I missed Capoeira when I left my old academy. […]

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