What is Urban Ritual?
The simple answer is “an open roda da capoeira” as described below by Mestre Accordion in his book – Capoeira: History, Philosophy, and Practice.
“Open rodas must have many capoeiristas from different levels, plus guests from friendly and rival schools. This combination will create the natural tension needed for the development of strong and lively jogos. The formalities of a regular class should be avoided and despite the adherence to tradition and ritual, open rodas must allow spontaneity, creativity and the free spirit of capoeiristas.”
In the ’90’s and early 2000’s capoeira in London grew a lot and classes were popping up everywhere – Angola and contemporary mainly with only one or two regional. Rodas were at the end of class or part of an event hosting a visiting master. It occurred to me that if a roda took place in a mutual venue and wasn’t fixed to a regular group practice then the attendees “owned” the roda, although the host was responsible to greet guests and make everything function fluently as possible. This focus on roda, free of charge and open to all manages to tick the box described by master Accordion in his book.
In Rio-de-Janeiro I had witnessed, first hand, a number of teachers and masters that arranged monthly social events that centred around a lengthy roda. It was an amazing exchange of capoeira play that only was possible in the arrangement that was being made between the leaders involved. And in 2006 we started doing a monthly roda called Urban Ritual in a suitable London pub!
An open roda is a completely different challenge, and in my opinion the reason why we would practice capoeira at all. At these open rodas we have no idea who will come, who we will play and the balance is often not what we could have expected. Attending open rodas helps us surpass ourselves and develop an open mind without expectations or ideas of right and wrong, replacing it with “different” and developing an ability to accept these differences.
It’s also a great time to talk about capoeira – papoeira – something I believe as an important element in the learning process.