Though Capoeira has spent the past couple of decades expanding its reach around the world, in many aspects its pedagogy has remained consistent in recent decades. As new cultures embrace the art, it’s difficult to see this remaining to be the case. With so many movement groups and sports exchanging ideas from a variety of disciplines, it feels inevitable that over time, Capoeira will be impacted, and teachers need to be open minded to this.
This article has avoided how Capoeira will change over time, as history has proved that it may be fun to speculate, but impossible to predict, and instead focused on the teaching methods being used. From personal experience I have seen how the wrong method for the wrong person can have poor outcomes, but by being open to ideas and research, Capoeira can learn and improve the environment for its students.
In his recent book, Range, the author David Epstein looks at how many of the most successful individuals and organisations have learned from a variety of backgrounds before applying it to a specific discipline or problem. I have touched on ideas from physical therapy, sport and skill acquisition, but this is merely scratching the surface. The knowledge base in these areas is vast, and with sharing over the internet, this is becoming ever more accessible for teachers. Even in this article I have left out ideas on planning, nutrition, strength and conditioning, cueing, video analysis and tens of others that could be discussed and applied to Capoeira.
Hopefully this article has given some ideas to begin a conversation. Whether it’s introducing good practice from physical therapy to help reduce injury risk and lay foundations for performance, or introducing some ideas from dance or other movement practices to increase student capabilities. Perhaps most importantly, I have attempted to introduce a few ideas from skill acquisition research to ensure that students are taught in a way that promotes transferability of their new skills to the Capoeira environment of the Roda, with the use of contextual training problems.
In my opinion this is the beginning of applying these ideas in Capoeira, and I can attest to this being very challenging. Hopefully if more teachers attempt it, we can all learn from the experience. However, I believe that just like in Range, by learning from research and ideas from other disciplines, as well as the backgrounds of all its teachers, the teaching of Capoeira can improve, and thus more students will continue to study this mesmorising art form, and the Rodas we play in will be all the better for it.
Look forward to seeing you in the chaos of the Roda.