George Antonov – Gêmeo
Yavor Ivanov – Sossegado

I’m pleased to introduce you two Capoeira teachers and great friends of mine – Yavor and George. They have a capoeira group in Sofia, Bulgaria called Capoeira Cobra Coral and they love playing and teaching Capoeira. They’ve shared with me some great moments of their Capoeira history. We’ve spent a great time talking about Capoeira and I hope you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. Hello guys! Please, tell us a few words about yourself:

Yavor (Sossegado): My name is Yavor Ivanov. I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and I’m 33 years old. My capoeira name is Sossegado. It means self-confident, calm, and peaceful.

I’ve been training Capoeira since the summer of 2006. At this time, capoeira was not that popular as it is now. I accidentally watched a video on the Internet and as of this moment, I knew that beautiful art will become part of my life.

George (Gêmeo): My name is George Antonov and I’m thirty years old. I’ve been practicing Capoeira for about 5 years, now. My Capoeira name is Gêmeo 1, which means Twin 1. It was given to me because I was practicing Capoeira together with one of my best friends and we were very alike. Thus, he got the name Gêmeo 2.

I heard about Capoeira for the first time from the popular movie – “Only the Strong”. The movie was fascinating and I watched it several times. While I was watching it, I began to learn the basic Capoeira move – Ginga. Thus, I knew it before I my first Capoeira lesson. Also, from the movie I leaned few more moves like – Queixada, Armada, etc.

At the beginning, I was attracted to Capoeira only because of the acrobatic moves.Now, Capoeira for me is not only a sport but also a wonderful magic. Wow, this is amazing. You must have watched the movie dozen times.

Gemeo1George (Gêmeo): Indeed, I took the movie from the store every week and I watched it again and again. I tried each one of the moves at home and I was really astonished by them.

Due to the fact that I did not know that there was a Capoeira school in Bulgaria at this time I could not continue my training and I stopped doing Capoeira at home. I just stared to forget about it. Few years later, I met a girl – Milena. Her best friend was living in London and was training Capoeira for several years. She told me that there was a Capoeira school here and on one of her vacations in Bulgaria she took my friend Milena to a training. Unfortunately, I could not go with them. When Milena came back from the lesson it was obvious that she was very impressed. Few days later she took me to my first capoeira lesson.

At this time, I was doing fitness. I had also been training Karate for four years and I may say that I had sufficient physical strength and power. However, when I went to my first Capoeira lesson I got tired very quickly. This somehow depressed and annoyed me because I was used to be good at what I do. Anyway…At the Capoeira lesson I met a boy who was able to do Au and Au Batido. When I saw this boy moving I got stoned. I told myself that if I’m able to do this some day I would be very proud of myself. (laugh) How many people were training Capoeira with you at this time?

George (Gêmeo): Well, there were maybe 10 people. All were beginners like me. Of course, some of them were better than the others. Three boys were teaching us. All of them were learning Capoeira with Alchimista (Valeri Ivanov). Why didn’t you go with Alchimista?

George (Gêmeo): Well, there were two groups – beginners and advanced. The advanced students were with Alchimista and the beginners were with Tzveti (my Capoeira teacher).

At the end of my first Capoeira lesson, my teacher shout to the group “Come on, it is time for Roda.” I looked afraid, as I’ve never been into Roda although I’ve seen it multiple times in the movies. As I was afraid of it I was leaving the training class with the beginning of every Roda. I acted like that for more than a month. It was funny…(laugh)

I clearly remember the song Tzveti sang on my first Roda – it was “Santo Antônio é protetor”. At first, I did not really like the Capoeira music. I may say that it even annoyed me. Now, I listen Capoeira music almost all the time – at home, at the training room, in the car…everywhere. When did you start liking the music and how did you enter the Roda?

Gemeo2-1George (Gêmeo): Well, it was a slow process. At the beginning, I liked only few songs and I listened only to them. For example – “Roda Maravilhosa”. Then, I started to try some new songs and more new songs…still, there are some songs I don’t like and maybe I never will.

About the Roda – as I said, I was afraid and ashamed to enter the Roda, not only because I had limited Capoeira knowledge at this time and I did not have any abilities. Also, because I had the self-confidence that I could do more than anyone else in the room because I had enough muscles and power. Actually, there were people with less muscles who were a lot better than me.

At some time, I started to feel the Axe. It was great!…I started to feel happy at the end of the training. I started to feel the positive energy passing through my body – I started to mind the sun, listen to the birds’ singing, etc. Somehow, Capoeira stroke a friendship between the environment and me.

Nowadays, Capoeira for me is what yoga is for yogis – a way of living. I was able to go deep into Capoeira and see the magic of it. There were not only acrobatics, or kicks. There was a whole spirit and positive energy. What is your source of knowledge in Capoeira? Is it coming from your teachers or you’ve spent time watching movies, videos on youtube, etc?

George (Gêmeo): I’ve always believed that the knowledge depends mostly on the student. It is not enough for a teacher to be good at what he does. The student himself has to pay attention and place a lot of efforts to learn something. That is why I’ve never relied only on my teachers. Of course, they gave me the most of the knowledge. However, I’ve constantly watched movies and videos, read books, etc. I was just obsessed with Capoeira. (laugh) How did you move from the beginners to the advanced group?

Gemeo3George (Gêmeo): It was short after I attended my first Capoeira lesson, maybe 3-4 months after. I was learning quickly and after some time I was able to do more of the moves better than the other capoeiristas. Maybe because I was not afraid to fall, no longer ashamed of how I look when I play, etc. One day, my friend Gemeo 2 and I decided to try the advanced group. We liked it there but we still wanted to go to the beginners group. Thus, we decided to go to both trainings together. We trained 3, even 4 times a week. We were students so we had plenty of time and we were only thinking of Capoeira.

With the time passing, we stopped the beginner lessons and continued with the advanced only. Still, we were so much into Capoeira that we were playing it outside the training room – in the parks, in the schoolyards…just anywhere we had the chance. How did you two meet? When was that?

George (Gêmeo): It was when I had to stop the trainings for some time due to injuries in my leg. I must say that they were not caused by the Capoeira trainings. (laugh) I had a surgery and I could not actually move my leg. Nevertheless, I still wanted to go to the training room. Few days after the surgery, I was back there. This time I was not playing capoeira. I decided to watch the others and try to learn to play berimbau.

This day, Yavor came into the training room to watch how the training class goes. He came next to me and we started talking about Capoeira. He was not training at this time. He was afraid that it is too difficult. I must have transferred my passion in Capoeira to him as later I learned that he had started playing with Tzveti. Few months later, he came back to Alchimista’s lessons and we became friends. What about teaching Capoeira? How did that start?

Sossegado2-1Yavor (Sossegado): George started to teach at the Yoga studio “Yoga Mandala”. He was invited by the owners of the studio who were familiar with capoeira and were attracted to it like George and I are. Few days later, I joined him. George, what about you?

George (Gêmeo): Few months after I started learning Capoeira, I already wanted to show everyone how wonderful this martial art is. I started to teach my friends some of the basic moves, explain the rules, etc. I just wanted to tell the world about Capoeira and make it more popular. I’ve helped the new ones in the group, I’ve taught them how to make the moves and corrected them. I did that with joy and I felt happy to share my knowledge in Capoeira with the others.

One day a friend of mine told me that there is a new yoga center “Yoga Mandala” in town and its owners were interested in adding Capoeira lessons to the program. I met with the owners, and the next week I started my first Capoeira lesson there. At first, I was not sure if anyone would be interested in the lessons at all. However, with the time passing the school started to grow. We had to give it a name and so the group Capoeira Cobra Coral came out. Tell us more about the Cobra Coral students – how many are they, how good are they, how old are they?

George (Gêmeo): We created the Cobra Coral Group two years ago. At the beginning, there were just few students. Now, there are about 30-40 students and we have two sub groups – beginners and advanced. The trainings are two times a week for both sub groups. Most of them are regular trainers, which helps us to increase the level quickly. Great part of the students are middle aged – 25-35 years old. What do you think, how do people hear about Capoeira in Bulgaria?

George (Gêmeo): Well, there are several channels – from the Internet and mainly from the popular bulgarian Capoeira site here in Bulgaria – Also, from, friends, live performances, TV, etc. How do you feel Capoeira when learning it and when teaching it?

Yavor (Sossegado): When I play Capoeira I feel free from everything negative and filled with a lot of positive energy. I forget about everything else and just enjoy the adrenalin, temptation, passion and love of Capoeira. When I teach, I aim to give all this feeling and share my knowledge with the students. In most cases, I may say that I have a success. (laugh)

George (Gêmeo): When I play Capoeira, I do not pay that much attention to the technique and how exactly I make the move. I just feel it. When I teach, I explain it so that my students can learn better and faster. I explain each and every detail and this makes me more concentrated and careful. Either way, I feel great pleasure and joy. I do feel a relief of negative energy, bad things happening around me, etc. Like Yavor and anyone else I believe, I just stop thinking of anything else but Capoeira. This makes me a happy, a positive person. How do you feel at the end of the lesson?

George (Gêmeo): When the training was a good one with a lot of Axe I feel like I will explode and so do my students. Sometimes they come and hug me and congratulate me for the great work, for the wonderful feeling I’ve created, for being good at what they do. I have to say that this is the best feeling – to know you’ve put your heart into something and that you’ve achieved some great results. I live for this moment! How do you define Capoeira – more like a martial art or a dance?

George (Gêmeo): I can’t really define it. Everyone has his own interpretation of things. In any case, as long as it is an art it means that it is something beautiful, something unique. Many people say that it is a dance only because of the music, not because of the way the moves are performed – graciously. For me Capoeira is a martial art that I can dance and I really love to dance.

Yavor (Sossegado): I don’t think that there should be any difference. Capoeira is all – music, game, fight, play. It is Capoeira when all that is put together. Do you believe that Capoeira could be used for a self-defense?

Yavor (Sossegado): I’m sure that Capoeira could be used outside the training room. But this is not the point. Capoeira should be practiced for fun. It elevates your body, your mind and your soul. One should just take the best of it.

George (Gêmeo): In my opinion, Capoeira cannot be used for a self-defense in its pure form, with the ginga and stuff. In any case, the kicks and the attacks in Capoeira are kicks and attacks that are strong enough to be used for a self-defense. Nevertheless, it is all in your heard. If you are fighter you will fight, if you are afraid you will run and hide no matter what martial art you’ve trained. Well said! Do you think that Capoeira is a martial art, which is played mostly by poor people, even criminals? I’ve seen people trying to make money from playing Capoeira on the street.

Gemeo-Sossedago2George (Gêmeo): Well, I’ve seen artists selling paintings on the street and this does not make them poor or criminals. They’ve just learned something and they want to show it to the world. Many famous people are playing Capoeira – Ricky Martin, Nelly Fortado, Whesley Snipes, etc. Capoeira is not for poor or rich people. Capoeira is for everyone and it is great that there are no limitations. What part of your life is Capoeira?

George (Gêmeo): Capoeira and the Axe is in me all the time. It is not like how much time I train or teach Capoeira it is how I feel it. I’m a normal person, going to work every day, having fun with friends, etc. Capoeira is in my heart and soul, it is my love and passion; it is my inner strength and magic.

Yavor (Sossegado): For me, Capoeira is a way of life. IT IS IN MY BLOOD! How did Capoeira change your life?

George (Gêmeo): Every one has reasons to do something. Some people say that they train Capoeira to meet beautiful men or women, some because of the acrobatics, some because of the physical advantage it gives. As I said, Capoeira is magic and it changed me a lot! Capoeira gave me the change to be more opened to the world. I met new wonderful people, I started to feel closer to the environment, I became self-confident, and I became a very happy person.

Yavor (Sossegado): Ever since I play Capoeira I became a better person. It helped me meet great people and friends, live wonderful moments. Thanks to Capoeira I met the true love! Is there anything you would like to say in addition?

George (Gêmeo): One should not try to understand Capoeira but to try it and open himself to the AXE!