Mini Van Feed: Capoeira, Hip Hop Chess, and the Adventures of Mr. Potato Head

This past Saturday Van’s Capoeira class did a demo at a Hip Hop Chess event in downtown Raleigh. I am only recently becoming familiar with Capoeira, and I didn’t have a clue what Hip Hop Chess was. The event was held in a large meeting room behind the IMAX theater at Marbles Children’s Museum.


A minister-type man kicked off the event with a rather extended 30 minute talk about “why we were all there”. I originally thought the purpose was to showcase different martial arts and dance troupes, but quickly realized that was only the half of it. The group that organized the event had a larger mission in mind. The philosophy behind the mission was that teaching at-risk kids chess would greatly improve their life-decision making skills.

There were several things that the speaker said that struck me.

1. He was able to tell all the teenagers to “leave their cool at the door”, and do it in a really-not-so-cheessy sounding way, where you could tell they were all listening and would actually comply. Even I was thinking, you know what, I think that I too,  will leave what I have left of my cool at the door. We had to do this to allow us to meet someone new.

2. He explained why learning to play chess was crucial. He said that the skill of learning to think through all of the consequences when making a decision, as is done when one plays chess,  helps you become a better man or woman. Plus they had video footage of the Wu Tang Clan doing it, you can let your cool back in now.


The RZA of Wu-tang Clan wins the championship belt at the first annual Hip Hop Chess Federation's Chess Kings Invitational.

3. Towards the end of his talk, he started the poem, “The hand that rocks the cradle…” and stopped. The entire crowd responded with, “rules the world.” How did I somehow miss this piece of language? The way he spoke about this particular passage had me in tears in less than 5 minutes.

I like to think that I was on the verge of tears because my smoocher was nervous. He is 6. He has never been on stage. He hates crowds. He hates noise. He is new to capoeira. It wasn’t him that was nervous, I was nervous.

After the man finished speaking, he introduced the teacher of Van’s Capoeira class. He was great. He took a lot of time to explain the history and instruments of Capoeira. It is a martial art invented in Brazil by slaves from Africa. They would practice self-defense moves in public and disguise them as dance. The instruments are basic yet effective.

He also explained he had given all of his students Portuguese nicknames. He went around the semi-circle and told the audience each student’s nickname. There was a kid nicknamed “Viking” and another called “Battery”, and then he came to Van. He said that his nickname was “Beedu”. It means the wise one. A funny kind of emotion is being a proud parent for seemingly silly reasons.

It is all pretty neat to watch. The class all took turns sparring with eachother and the crowd was into it. At the very end Van’s teacher whispered to him and asked if he wanted to spar and he declined.  He was brave for standing up there.

What does this have to do with the adventures of Mr. Potato Head? Being so close to Marbles Children’s Museum, we *had* to go there afterwards. The exhibit this month is the Adventures of Mr. Potato Head. Just had to give a shout out to Hasbro, the exhibit is brilliance in marketing. Lenovo should sponsor travelling children’s museum exhibits.


One response to “Mini Van Feed: Capoeira, Hip Hop Chess, and the Adventures of Mr. Potato Head

  1. A “minister-type man.” That’s hilarious. Beedu gets his funniness from you.

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