This is chess-related… sort of. Years ago, I wrote an essay titled, “The Beauty of Capoeira and Chess.” It is about the similarity between chess and the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. Capoeira was used by the African slaves (mostly from Angola) to fight against the Portuguese colonizers and lead to the building of liberation settlements called “quilombos.” I saw capoeira years ago, but first started training after returning from Brazil and seeing a demo at Universidade Zumbi dos Palmares. The university was built to cater to Afro-Brazilians and was named after Zumbi, an African revolutionary who lead uprisings to protect the Quilombos.
There is a movie being shot now from the video game, “Tekken.” Lateef Crowder (below left) is rumoured to be playing Eddy Gordo. Crowder, who was born in Salvador Bahia, Brazil, is a gymnast, stuntman and capoeira practicioner and is perfect for the role. You all may remember Tekken where two fighters square off in a death match. It is a match likened to chess because you are calculating and using all types of techniques to throw the opponent off guard. Each fighter in Tekken has a different style.
The Afro-Brazilians were deadly in using this art against the Portuguese oppressors, but disguised the movements in dance forms and African instruments… most notably the one-stringed berimbau. In capoeira, there is the “roda” or the circle where the “jogo” or game is played. It is here where you will see the dynamics of a chess match played. To those who say capoeira is not a martial art, don’t be mistaken. The sheer power, unpredictability and grace make capoeira an amazing cultural artform. Capoeira appears to be an ancestor of “breakdancing.”
You can read my essay, “Chess and the Beauty of Capoeira,” but enjoy the videos below. Although I was never a video game enthusiast, can’t wait until Tekken movie comes in 2009!
Lateef Crowder showing serious gymnastic skills with some capoeira!
Lateef vs. Tony Jaa in “The Protector” in a physical chess match.
Power of Capoeira, the martial art… Mestre Espirro Mirim