A great capoeirista must be:
Creative: I think the creative aspect is one of the top three things that draws me to capoeira. The capoeira game is beautiful, and beauty is best expressed through our creative side. A capoeirista must be creative (I’m not saying you need to be an artist or playwrite, mind you) in order to fully appreciate what capoeira can offer. Your mestre can only teach you so many sequences and movements; you need to be able to put them together in the roda.
Athletic: This is a no-brainer, really. And I don’t mean that you need to have a superhero-like body. Even if you’re “unathletic” before you start doing capoeira, there is no way that you can be a serious capoeirista and not get into somewhat better shape (whether that means becoming more flexible, losing the beer belly, gaining more stamina, etc.). The end result, as you become an actual capoeirista (and a great one at that) is athleticism.
Playful: Another one of the top three things I love most about capoeira: it fits right in with my crazy desire to never “grow up.” You really can’t take yourself too seriously and be a capoeirista. I mean, look at us, in our goofy white pants, jumping all around and “rolling on the floor,” grinning the entire time (well, most of the time). And don’t forget the concept of malicia that is so integral to the capoeira game (Hey, kids, what do you do with games? That’s right, you “play” them!).
Outgoing: Maybe this is the answer to Joaninha’s question about “capoeira colored glasses.” To excell in the art and world of capoeira, you must be able to interact with people and open yourself up to new experiences. Some of the best capoeiristas I’ve met have been the most charming and open people I’ve ever known. The camaraderie among capoeiristas is incredible.
Energetic: Duh! How could there be any rodas without the energy generated by a bunch of hyperactive capoeiristas? If you can stand in a roda without clapping and at least attempting to sing (a few sounds or mumbles here and there is fine if you don’t know the lyrics, it’s the thought that counts), you’re not a capoeirista.
Intuitive: This is a quality that is a bit more subtle than the other, but maybe the most important of all. Capoeira, much to the surprise of many onlookers, is not a choreographed performance. Capoeiristas must be able to think many steps ahead, interpret what the other player is doing or going to do, get inside their opponent’s head, and have lightning fast instincts, in order to really play well.
Respectful: There are many levels of respect in capoeira (for those who deserve it, and some really might not). There is respect for mestres, respect for higher cords, respect for lower cords, respect for capoeiristas of different abilities, respect for other groups, etc. There is almost nothing worse (to me, and to decent people everywhere, I imagine) than a disrespectful person, and this doesn’t stop where the roda begins. For example, whenever a jogo ends up turning into a violent game or throwing match, if the capoeiristas are able to get up, smile, and hug each other at the end (especially if they are in different groups), that is respect.
Amicable: Remember the example that I just gave of hugs at the end of a violent game? That shows great deal of respect, but it’s also indicative of the overwhelming sense of friendship that exudes from capoeira. The smiles I see on the faces of capoeiristas in photographs always makes me proud to be part of the family. Even if I live in Massachusetts and you live in Brazil, we’re all friends in the world of capoeira.