Association de capoeira PALMARES de Paris.

Historical texts in learning capoeira

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by Pol Briand

English version 1 not very closely based on Portuguese version 3 --- 6 mar 2001.

To play capoeira is one,
to talk is another;
to write needs still other skills;
to get published, more;
and which printed text will be remembered is entirely out of capoeira's domain.

Many talk of Robin Hood who never shot his bow


Capoeira is a practical art, so the texts that we post in this site are exponents
of an ancilary art that we may call capoeirology, the art of talking about
capoeira. Capoeirology may help to learn capoeira or not. Sometimes it
does, sometimes it hinders practical understanding, and in many cases it is
seen to steer atention away from what capoeira really is about.

However, this capoeirology has existed for many years, and what we have
in mind is not capoeira talk, but written descriptions and discourse about capoeira,
the source material of academic research.

I find writing more difficult than talking. No face before my eyes to guess if I am
understood. Slugginess of the pen or of the keyboard. I get impatient, or confused.
I doubt, I think sometimes truthfully, of the use of my labour. I am no professional
writer, so I have no idea whether my text, may it be a leaflet, a article, a brochure or
a book, will be published or read, whether this work is for real, and this ends my
desire to write.

In spite of these difficulties, a few mestres de capoeira did write. I have not
so far found any that would have been published before capoeira gained folkloric
acceptance and entertainment potential. The difference between manuscript and
printed text in one of these occurences will lead us to caution when discussing
written capoeira matter. Confront Mestre Pastinha's booklet, published first in 1968
by the Secretary for Tourism in Salvador, Bahia, to the Manuscripts of the mestre
made available in fac-simile by Capoeira da Bahia on-line. The booklet was issued with
the name of the master, so we assume what is in it represents his conceptions of
capoeira; but the difference, in expression as well as in ideas, with the previous
manuscript, shows a great editorial pressure to the effect of reaching a large
audience. If, in his notebook, Pastinha confronted the unease of putting down
to the paper something about capoeira that had to be worth or wise to say in no
particular circumstance assuming a friendly letter-like style or an homily style
to fellow capoeiristas, for the printing press, destinated for the educated
unknowing, he needed an impersonal, descriptive and quite basic depiction of
capoeira and a much more rigid syntax. This mutation should make us wary of all
the similar changes that occur whenever practical knowledge is turned into words,
words written down, the written published out. Comedians know how much toil it
takes to utter a text sounding said, not read. More labour of the kind is needed to
get from text to practical knowledge, and the text ends up as no more that a small
contribution to the result.

Not all that is published is remembered. Only quoted texts are remembered.
At this point, many accidents happen. Not everybody mentions sources;
sometimes, indeed, it is not quite possible. For journalists or academic students,
the source lends value to the report: the richer the source in prestige, the more
often it will be mentioned. Minor authors or sources may well be forgotten at the
time the research is reduced to a specified length; on this occasion sometimes
academic requirements are entirely left aside. Conflict, either political or academic,
often leads to suppression of sources, even if their information is still there. So
forgotten sources may still appear, though their survival is very much at risk, since
things not valued by anybody usually end in trash. Outside officially marked paths
interresting facts may still be picked up.

The texts presented here are those indicated by the most approved authors.
We did not post them because we thought that they had to be read to know about
capoeira, but only to spare to others the pains that we had in finding them. We
must confess too the malignant idea that reading them, pondering the very
slender information they yield about capoeira, would puff down to the informed
reader the inflated speech of many a later text about capoeira history.

I thank heartily all that will contribute to our knowlegde with critical review
of our work and identification, communication or localization of texts.


Articles about capoeira.

Capoeira historical documentary records timeline.
Capoeira Palmares Paris homepage english version.

Lucia Palmares & Pol Briand
3, rue de la Palestine 75019 Paris
Tel. : (33) 1 4239 6436
Email : polbrian@wanadoo.fr

Association de Capoeira Palmares de Paris