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  1. doofaloofa is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 12:55pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson View Post
    Second, to be completely honest, I just can't see slave hunters, slave traders, and slave owners as being that mind numbingly dumb. Let's picture this exchange here. A bunch of slaves start singing, drumming rhythmically, and playing some simple instruments while two of them get up, face each other and begin to "dance." Said dance has the two participants punching, slapping, and kicking at each other, often acrobatically, and (depending on the type of Genga) barely missing each other or sometimes actually tagging each other. Participants rotate in and out, all to the tempo of the music. At some point, the slaves incorporate sticks, slave-chains and manacles, and farm knives into the dance. When the Overseer says, "what are you doing?" he receives an answer of "We're jus dance'n massah." One presumes this is accompanied with a sweep of the hand, index finger up, and a muttered "These are not the droids you're looking for. Move along." Yeah, I'm not buying it either. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
    The way I heard is it the type of dance performed was dependant of the rhythm being played. Whilst the overseer was away raping the she slaves the man slaves spared and practiced technique. When the overseer came to check on the slaves, the lookout would give the signal and the rhytm would change subtly and the dance would take over
  2. judoka_uk is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:13pm

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    I also think the Capoeira origin myth is bullshit.

    I don't see why you would allow your highly valuable and notoriously rebellious cargo off their chains, let them get together in a big group in the middle of a ship and then just kind of stand and watch.

    Sounds like a recipe for getting over run and losing control of the vessel.

    Makes much more sense to make your slaves do laps of the deck whilst chained together then it does to let them run their own version of 'The Mid Atlantic's Best Dance Crew'.

    Also why would you as a large bunch of men trained in a deadly martial art, when allowed to gather together on the deck of a ship and released from your chains, decide to practice your super deadly MA skills in a roundabout way, rather than use them to take over the ship and kill the slavers?

    I think that its much more likely that:

    A- It never really was a martial art, just a dance with actions that symbolically replicated combat. Maybe as a re-enactment of a battle between gods/ spirits etc...

    B- It was a martial art, but was ritualised into a dance in Africa, before slavers started showing up.

    C- It emerged in Brazil as a dance after various African groups were mixed together from across the Atlantic facing seaboard of Africa.
  3. Permalost is online now
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    pro nonsense self defense

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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:19pm

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     Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs

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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson
    Second, to be completely honest, I just can't see slave hunters, slave traders, and slave owners as being that mind numbingly dumb. Let's picture this exchange here. A bunch of slaves start singing, drumming rhythmically, and playing some simple instruments while two of them get up, face each other and begin to "dance." Said dance has the two participants punching, slapping, and kicking at each other, often acrobatically, and (depending on the type of Genga) barely missing each other or sometimes actually tagging each other. Participants rotate in and out, all to the tempo of the music. At some point, the slaves incorporate sticks, slave-chains and manacles, and farm knives into the dance. When the Overseer says, "what are you doing?" he receives an answer of "We're jus dance'n massah." One presumes this is accompanied with a sweep of the hand, index finger up, and a muttered "These are not the droids you're looking for. Move along." Yeah, I'm not buying it either.
    In addition to the point Doofaloofa makes (that the dance could quickly change when the slave masters were around), I think its also worth considering the worldview of these people. If they took the European notions of race to heart, it may seem unreasonable that their slaves were even smart enough to be underhanded and devise their own fighting art.

    Its worth noting that the same mythology is said to be true about FMA and the Spanish- the natives would do their bolo training with sticks, then the Spanish outlawed this, then no sir, we're just practicing the moro moro or carenza or something else with sticks. There's traditions of stick-based dancing in the Philippines, and I've read that the iconic double-baston is likely to have made its way to FMA from stick dances in Luzon, not an ancient double long blade form (historically, the weapons would have been sword and dagger, or sword and shield, not two equal length swords). The Philippines has lots and lots of dances, and some involve sticks or even bolos (my teacher has some old, shiny prop bolos that were made just for these dances).

    At any rate, the practice of hiding a martial art as a dance seems a bit fishy here too, especially since the Spanish knew that Filipinos were a blade culture with a fighting tradition descendant from the Sri Vishayans, Morros and Madjapahits. But, again there could be a latent racism that made the Spanish figure that the locals weren't smart enough for cunning tactics.

    I'm not saying that's what definitely happened in the Philippines, but if it did, it seems at least as likely that it happened in Brasil with capoeira (at least they weren't so into weapon-shaped props).

    I've heard the same story with 52 blocks/jailhouse rock, and with native Okinawan dances that actually do have a very martial artsy look to them. The idea that hiding a fighting art in a dance is a common enough thing woldwide in martial arts, and it doesn't make it true, but I think it suggests that it may be.
    Last edited by Permalost; 9/29/2011 1:26pm at .
  4. doofaloofa is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:26pm


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    @judoka

    It is my understanding that the techniques in capiwotzit are designed for those in chains, ie practiced with wrist and ankle restraints on. That is why it looks so odd

    The slaves in transit were left below and only brought up to disembark, or to be tossed over board when dead. Not surprisingly many perrished en route
  5. gregaquaman is online now
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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:33pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by doofaloofa View Post
    The way I heard is it the type of dance performed was dependant of the rhythm being played. Whilst the overseer was away raping the she slaves the man slaves spared and practiced technique. When the overseer came to check on the slaves, the lookout would give the signal and the rhytm would change subtly and the dance would take over
    Which is why you have a samba roda
  6. Permalost is online now
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    pro nonsense self defense

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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:48pm

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     Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs

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    Quote Originally Posted by judoka_uk View Post
    I also think the Capoeira origin myth is bullshit.

    I don't see why you would allow your highly valuable and notoriously rebellious cargo off their chains, let them get together in a big group in the middle of a ship and then just kind of stand and watch.

    Sounds like a recipe for getting over run and losing control of the vessel.

    Makes much more sense to make your slaves do laps of the deck whilst chained together then it does to let them run their own version of 'The Mid Atlantic's Best Dance Crew'.

    Also why would you as a large bunch of men trained in a deadly martial art, when allowed to gather together on the deck of a ship and released from your chains, decide to practice your super deadly MA skills in a roundabout way, rather than use them to take over the ship and kill the slavers?
    If the art was hidden as a dance, I don't think it happened while they were shackled on a ship, lusting after vitamin C, but I've never heard it proposed that it happened en route. Seems like it could've happened later, once the slaves were established as fieldhands, etc.

    I think that its much more likely that:

    A- It never really was a martial art, just a dance with actions that symbolically replicated combat. Maybe as a re-enactment of a battle between gods/ spirits etc...

    B- It was a martial art, but was ritualised into a dance in Africa, before slavers started showing up.

    C- It emerged in Brazil as a dance after various African groups were mixed together from across the Atlantic facing seaboard of Africa.
    I've done some reading on capoeira, and it seems to be the case that B and C are true. Although they weren't all from the exact same group, slaves were taken largely from a similar geographic area and shared similar cultural traits. I've read (but can't remember the source, except that it was by an actual anthropologist descendant from slaves) that the handstand part of capoeira was taken from a West African idea that deceased people live in another world where they walk on their hands (or something akin to that), which led to certain acrobatic movements not just in capoeira, but in other African diaspora martial arts in other places (the Carribean for example). Their understanding of what was happening and where they were going was shaped by some traditional beliefs.
  7. Vieux Normand is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 1:49pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson View Post
    IMS, there are any number of period documents which describe the black African slaving culture as including an important element of warrior tribes/cultures slave-raiding each other and slaving prisoners taken in battle.

    As much as it offends me to say it, the black/euro slaving culture of the 18th/19th Century was actually a step up in "humane treatment" compared to some earlier historic examples. If you liked your thumbs, big toes, and testicles, it was best not to be taken a slave by the Assyrians, ims. [insert here any and all caveats about how reprehensible the african/euro slave trade was]

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
    I recall, back in my PE teaching days, when I had to sit in for a history teacher on a day when her class (about a quarter of the students black) had a guest presentation about the slave trade.

    Once the presenter had come to the inevitable "you're all descended from kings and queens" part, a girl--the daughter of a west-African country's ambassador--stood up and basically called BS.

    Her family, she continued, had made its fortune catching and selling people of neighbouring villages in raids, and would never have sold any captured nobility to either European or Arab slave-traders.

    First, she said, they could get a lot more by ransoming off any captured nobles back to their own people.

    Secondly, she said, slave-traders knew how unused to hard work pampered tribal royalty were and didn't want them. What they wanted were basically beasts-of-burden.

    Needless to say, this didn't go over well, either with the guest or with those students who had been raised on the "kings-and-queens" thing. I told the African girl to make sure her 'driver' arrived promptly after school to take her back to her family's well-guarded residence in order to avert any 'difficulties' with the other black students.
  8. gregaquaman is online now
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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 2:15pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Permalost View Post
    If the art was hidden as a dance, I don't think it happened while they were shackled on a ship, lusting after vitamin C, but I've never heard it proposed that it happened en route. Seems like it could've happened later, once the slaves were established as fieldhands, etc.

    I've done some reading on capoeira, and it seems to be the case that B and C are true. Although they weren't all from the exact same group, slaves were taken largely from a similar geographic area and shared similar cultural traits. I've read (but can't remember the source, except that it was by an actual anthropologist descendant from slaves) that the handstand part of capoeira was taken from a West African idea that deceased people live in another world where they walk on their hands (or something akin to that), which led to certain acrobatic movements not just in capoeira, but in other African diaspora martial arts in other places (the Carribean for example). Their understanding of what was happening and where they were going was shaped by some traditional beliefs.
    I think there was a large portion of caporistas that worked as sailers which could be the ship link. The Idea behind kicking was so you could hold on to something and fight at the same time. Mabye the same for savate?

    My personal theory on the handstand is so you dont get your clothes dirty. Pretty much just hands and feet touch the ground unless you get dropped.

    Anyway here is a song compendium. Gives you an idea what was going through their heads at the time.

    http://capoeira.rutgers.edu/Capoeira...ernational.pdf
    Last edited by gregaquaman; 9/29/2011 2:26pm at .
  9. DCS is online now
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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 2:18pm

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     Style: 柔道

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    On capoeira history I enjoyed this book:

    http://books.google.es/books?id=C5C7...page&q&f=false

    Quote Originally Posted by Permalost
    Its worth noting that the same mythology is said to be true about FMA and the Spanish- the natives would do their bolo training with sticks, then the Spanish outlawed this
    Interestingly, the banning of FMA practise by the spaniards seems to have happened just after the Philippines were recovered from the english at the end of Seven Years War and Diego Silang revolt was defeated.

    I don't find bans on native martial arts before 1764, and considering most of the colonial troops were native filipinos, not allowing them to train would have been counterproductive.
    Last edited by DCS; 9/29/2011 2:26pm at .
  10. Sri Hanuman is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/29/2011 2:21pm

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    To answer the original quesiton (and hoping that no one beat me to it,) martial arts was invented alongside surprise secks back in the stone age. This, in fact, is how we as a species devised the art of grappling.
    =================
    Kama Sutra blue belt.

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