Knowledge base


Text by Bruno Caverna
"I studied a bit of psychology at university back in 1994. It didn't take me long to drop the academic world, it was unbearably boring context to accommodate a reckless fire that was burning within a young spirit. My fascination for human psychology had never been diminished though. In 1995 I was invited by a dear friend, Luiz Cantador, to lead in collaboration a capoeira project for the inmates of a public psychiatric hospital in Rio de Janeiro. I couldn't escape from psychology. I went on to learn about humanness in the actual battle field by bringing some drops of normality and lightness through capoeira ritual in a dreadfully harsh environment, which sometimes would scary the shit out of me. Luiz left the collaboration after 2 months and I stayed another nearly 2 years all by myself, crafting what would have become the foundation of my pedagogical teaching approach.

This life-changing first experience is the cradle of Play-Fight Practice, ignited 29 years ago. Whenever I start thinking about the years/numbers I can't help but feeling dumbfounded to reflect upon how much water has flown by ever since.

In 2000 the impulse to continue on challenging myself by meeting and teaching people from all walks of life took a global turn. I began traveling all around the world, always keen to learn from different cultures, languages, mentalities and so on. Art was my weapon, always taking capoeira, martial arts and dancing as my teaching tools. In Europe I had the opportunity to occasionally teach in jails, mental clinic for youngsters, got being involved in artistic projects for mentally and physically disabled people, taught in refugee centers, school for immigrants and assisted homeless people.

I had always been fascinated by the boundless encounters between human souls that could extrapolate the formal conceptual borders. Over the years, the bundle of human experiences showed me that there are commonalities inherent to all of us in the modern societies, regardless the culture, belief-systems, credo, age, race. The seek for pleasure and avoidance of pain/suffering is given but there is also a certain difficulty to speak out truthfully.

The human relations were oftentimes vested in deceits, manipulations, power-game of all sorts, some trying to take advantage from the most vulnerable, egocentrism and so on.

A precious quality that I've integrated and still preserve from the first experience at the psychiatric hospital is to act out with integrity with brutal honesty, rather rare qualities to be found, particularly amongst the so-called "normal" people. We all have got our own blind spots, however only a few are willing to face and confront them candidly. That's why Play-Fight, behind the seemingly physicality, has always been about supporting each other to get in touch with our own inner resistances and map them with sharp precision so we may learn to navigate through our shadows. This need to negotiate and establish a dialogue with my own resistances, which havent`t been little, became a soulful compass in dealing with human vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

I am humbled to announce a teaching frame that acknowledges such foundational qualities of my practices developed over these nearly 3 decades. It feels an appropriate in the midst of this historical context of outrageous conflicts and extreme polarization we are living through, to promote an embodied shadow-work through Play-Fight Practice under the Formless Arts philosophy."

Text: Bruno Caverna