Chess players… Tekken is coming!

Eddy Gordo... Tekken

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.

Lateef Crowder

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, “The Beauty of Capoeira and Chess,” 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


  1. A chess player should try to train in some type of martial art. Chess is itself a mental martial art and I believe it will help not only in conditioning (for chess concentration), but to help externalize our chess personalities.

  2. Muy Thai vs. Capoeira (Round Two)

    This is a short movie, “Inmate 451.” These are made for publicity purposes. In this video, it’s Sam Looc and Lateef Crowder going at it. Both work for Zero Gravity stunt team. This fight is pure power versus power with instinctive reflexes. In this battle of two styles, you saw all types of powerful blows from body punches, elbows, knees and looping kicks. It’s only at the end of the fight that these two fighters stop to think about what they were facing.

    I like Tupac in this. 8)

  3. Interesting interview with Brazil’s Mauricio Campos on capoeira:

    “MC: Yes, Capoeira is a game and competition is always present, you are competing with yourself and with the other capoeirista. In Brazil we compare Capoeira to chess, the difference is that you are using your body and have to make decisions in a split second but the strategy and creativity are the same.”

    I believe people have compared capoeira to chess, but there are few who really understand the depth of the connection. It more than calculating moves and strategy, but it is also about feeling, flow and spirit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button