The secret of capoeiragem walk

(Article taken from my 'Second book of capoeiragem')

In many old sources, Carioca capoeiras are described as being easily distinguishable by the way they walked - they allegedly had an odd rocking way of walking, 'conferred by the practice of capoeiragem'.

So what did this 'capoeiragem walk' look like?

Animal archetype theory hints that it should be tied with some archetype frequently used in capoeiragem. However, when we try the most common ones - used in ginga or Peneiracao - we find out that none of them produces any type of odd, rocking walk.

Monkey+Seduction1? No.
LightLegs? No
RubberLegs? No

However, there is one archetype that fits - LightSkills (Nemer+LightLegs). Used in high-level Peneiracao (LightSkills Peneiracao), it fits because it is archetype used frequently by capoeiragem; and when used with Crane (archetype of normal everyday walk)(Crane+Nemer+LightLegs), it produces a very odd rocking walk.

Now that we have the archetype of 'capoeiragem walk' nailed down, let us try to answer why did they use it.

I do not buy the theory that they could not help themselves but walk this way - capoeiragem teaches high-level of body control and its practitioners certainly could use normal walk (Crane) if they wanted to.

I believe the real reason is that from normal walking (Crane), you cannot switch directly into Peneiracao or even LightSkills Peneiracao. The energy system of the body does not simply allow it. Thus if a capoeira walked normally on the street and somebody suddenly attacked him, it would take time to switch to Peneiracao and jump away.

However, if capoeira used 'capoeiragem walk' (Crane+LightSkills) and somebody suddenly attacked him, he could immediately jump away into safety and into LightSkills Peneiracao - and immediately be ready to fight.

So 'capoeiragem walk' had an important and practical purpose - it allowed capoeiras to be ready to react to an unexpected attack even when walking on the street (or standing - the archetype can even be use to stand in such a way you can immediately jump back into Peneiracao).

So this is the secret of the odd way Carioca capoeiras walked.

Excursus - 'paratrooper walk'

In my old days of training Bahian capoeira (old Regional, around 2005), I played so much using the proper ginga(Monkey+Seduction1) that it changed the way I walked. I also had an odd rocking/twisting walk, but a bit different from the 'capoeiragem walk' described above. My senior student used to be envious of me because according to him I 'walked like Mestre Cobra Mansa'. One old guy in a hospital even asked me if I was a paratrooper - because according to him, they used to walk that way.

Using my archetype theory, I can now, after 15 years, analyze this 'paratrooper walk'. It also used LightSkills as does the 'capoeiragem walk'; but the main archetype was Monkey, as in ginga; so the total archetype of 'paratrooper walk' was Monkey+Nemer+LightLegs. And paratroopers indeed seem to walk that way, so the old guy was right.

Can it also be used for something? Well, it certainly cannot be used to jump back into Peneiracao as the 'capoeiragem walk'.

However, it can be used to very quickly step backward into proper Bahian ginga(Monkey+Seduction1)! Again, unlike normal walking(Crane) that cannot be immediately converted to ginga.

So - considering that this type of walk comes automatically from doing a lot of ginga the proper way and it is very practical - it is very probable that old Bahian capoeiras used the 'paratrooper walk' to be able to quickly step back and change into ginga when attacked unexpectedly.

I stress that all this only works with proper Bahian ginga(Monkey+Seduction1); modern ginga does not work this way. This is another proof that modern ginga does not interoperate with real (old) capoeiragem and would simply get you killed.


So there you have it - two types of special capoeira walking, each suited for one capoeiragem style:

1)'capoeiragem walk' - Crane+LightSkills - used in Carioca to quickly change into Peneiracao if attacked
2)'paratrooper walk' - Monkey+LightSkills - used in Bahian capoeiragem to quickly change into ginga if attacked

Using the proper type of walking was a part of 'malandragem'; the skill of situation production of old capoeiragem. You used the proper walk to be able to react immediately when attacked; this gave you an edge against surprise attack/ambush. Only a fool walked normally ;-)

When you walked along the street and a by-stander suddenly lunged to plunge a hidden knife into your belly, this weird walk was the only thing that protected you; that and a quick jumpback into Peneiracao (or several quick backsteps into ginga).

These two types of walking are part of the weapons of old capoeiragem.

Note that the Carioca walk looks aggressive and provocative; while the Bahian walk looks more sly; fitting the respective temperaments of the two capoeiragem styles.

Excursus - falling

Both types of walking have one more bonus: As LightSkills disable the righting reflexes of the body, if you walked one of the above ways and slipped on something, you could easily twist in the air and fall into Rear negativa.

It is almost clear that the above types of walk were the secret behind the often cited ability of old capoeiras to fall 'into negativa' when they slipped on the street. It is a lot harder to switch into LightSkills when falling if you walked normally(Crane) before the fall. Whereas if you used one of the above two walks, you already had LightSkills equipped; so you could fall naturally and comfortably.




















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