For a little while in college and now again in Brooklyn I'm training in capoeria, an afro-Brazilian martial arts form blended with elements of dance. I feel myself becoming stronger and more flexible on the outside, but playing capoeria really transcends the soul. I played sports my whole life but was never absorbed culturally or spiritually by them - they were a way of exercising, pumping adrenaline, releasing the youthful need for physical competition. But capoeria's roots reach into history, and engage more than your muscles. There is a fluidity, trickery, camaraderie between players as they twist around each other in the "roda," (pronounced 'ho-da') a circle of capoeristas representing a microcosm of life. As the berimbau plays and the group sings and claps along, the rush of blood seems only necessary.
The other day I was given my capoeira nickname (everybody has one)... Abacaxi, which means Pineapple. My instructor Contra-Mestre Foca was on a fruit-nickname kick that day. It fits though, I think. My hair, the tropical origin, somewhat strange on the outside but sweet on the inside.