Martial Arts Of Liberation: Bitcoin And Capoeira Fight Together

This is an opinion editorial by Moon, a Bitcoin Maximalist, writer and practitioner of capoeira.

Capoeira, often superficially described as “dance-fighting,” is a self-defense style that arose organically out of the forced melding of cultures between different African peoples enslaved in Brazil in 18th and 19th centuries (though its history is likely older than this). Today, capoeira has evolved into a popular and globally-recognized martial art, known for devastating kicks, devious sweeps and dazzling acrobatics. Presented are examples of capoeira being played slowly and beautifully, quickly and acrobatically and more aggressively with takedown attempts..

Behind all of the flashy moves, however, is a much deeper essence. The true seeker finds that capoeira is a way of being that fully encompasses African expressions of fight, dance, music, art, ritual, spirituality and philosophy into one in a pursuit of liberation. Over the centuries, capoeira has been shepherded, protected and propagated by a nomadic, decentralized, warrior-sage-trickster culture that has rebuffed every attempt to suppress, institutionalize, centralize or destroy it.

But what does any of this have to do with Bitcoin?

First, in capoeira (which I have practiced since 2005) and in Bitcoin, I see kindred cultures of liberation that can learn from and benefit one another. I believe the two complement each other extremely well as parallel paths for radical liberation, one through body discipline and the other through sound money and both, interestingly, building up similar habits of mind.

Second, where much of “Bitcoining” is objective, rooted in mathematics, capoeira is much the opposite — capoeira is a mystery: fluid, emergent, always changing, always challenging, a thing to be experienced but never fully known. Yet, despite these differences, just like Bitcoin, capoeira bends the practitioner into embracing unending learning and demands the practitioner’s acceptance of ceaseless, unyielding change. We capoeiristas say “capoeira changes you,” and as Bitcoiners, we know full well that Bitcoin does the same.

Finally, capoeira is a practice that forces the development of jest and “good humor” — the ability to strike and take strikes, to both fall hard and knock others down just the same, all with a laugh and a genuine smile — and a presence devoid of heavy emotions like anger, jealousy or pride. In this, capoeira, while still fully acknowledging a dangerous and adversarial world, offers a healthy counterbalance to the type of dour humorlessness that sometimes finds us in Bitcoining.

Let us consider some other interesting parallels…

If You Like Bitcoin, Consider Capoeira

Mysterious Origins

Much as the real-world identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown, the true genesis of capoeira is unknowable — a secret lost to time in the wide, dark belly of the Middle Passage. However, much like with Nakamoto’s identity, many competing theories and much debate on the subject of capoeira’s origins persists.

Pseudonymous, Outlaw Culture

Capoeira was persecuted in Brazil and even formally outlawed from the 1890s to 1930s. Pushing capoeira underground gave rise to the “apelido,” or nickname — used to shield the practitioners’ legal identities from the state and from each other. If one capoeirista was caught by the law, they’d have no one else to give up — the most a lawman could get would be a list of silly aliases that could represent anyone. Today, many capoeiristas will simply introduce themselves by their apelido — and, as with a Bitcoiner’s “nym,” no further questions need be asked.

Leaderless Decentralization

While there are now and have always been leaders in capoeira, there is no leader of capoeira. Each mestre (master) teaches in their own way, each group is different and the groups themselves are constantly merging, separating and reforming. And, as the human body is the only requirement for the practice, capoeira exists wherever the people are, which is to say, anywhere and everywhere. No wonder past attempts to exterminate it have always been futile. This is, of course, an inspiring parallel to Bitcoin’s own decentralized and leaderless persistence.

Adversarial Mindset

Where Bitcoiners speak of “OPSEC,” the capoeirista has “malícia” — a heightened and ever-present adversarial awareness. However, in the game of capoeira (you do not fight capoeira, you play capoeira), players do not block attacks, rather, they move with the attack, dodging out of the way. Thus emerges capoeira’s revolving, circular game of “flow,” where every defense sets up the next counterattack and every attack finishes in defensive/evasive posture. The skilled capoeirista is always thinking several moves ahead, anticipating their opponent and changing their movements in an attempt to misdirect, confuse and entrap. In the larger game of everyday life, malícia manifests as an adeptness in reading people, the ability to anticipate human situations well before they arise and, therefore, to position accordingly.

Radical And Asymmetrical Liberation

Capoeira is an artifact of slavery and oppression. It empowers the individual, particularly one who cannot afford to attack head on, to leverage every part of their body — hands, feet, elbows, knees, arms, legs, hips, head, torso — and even to pursue extended periods of inversion, as unexpected and shockingly effective tools of self defense. And in so liberating the body, capoeira also unshackles the practitioner’s mind to think and see differently, and to plan for or to put into motion whatever is most unexpected — to become adept in navigating the vagaries of an unpredictable and unjust world.

In the historical context, capoeira has always been a “sly, roundabout” thing that the system could not stop. Capeoria stood as an asymmetrical challenge-resistance to the prevailing, exploitative system of its time. Similarly today, Bitcoin provides an asymmetrical “opt-out” of the fiat system, especially for those who cannot confront the system head on. Here, Bitcoin allows us all to behave like capoeira players, foiling rather than fighting, dodging rather than engaging, and placing ourselves always just out of reach of the system’s attacks.

What Can These Communities Learn From One Another?

So, what then can the Bitcoiner learn from capoeira? And what can the capoeirista learn from Bitcoin?

For the Bitcoiner, capoeira can offer a greater appreciation of whimsy, play and mystery, along with unexpected avenues to physical fitness, self defense and cultural enrichment. While capoeira can be plenty lethal when necessary, it cares not about winning or losing. Capoeira is not to beat, dominate or destroy an opponent — capoeira is simply to play — to enjoy the thrill of the danger and to revel in the beauty and mystery of conservation made by human bodies in motion. Capoeira teaches you to defend yourself, to think differently and to think ahead, to be of fit body and sound mind, but also to dance and laugh well always — because one day, surely, you will die — so you had better enjoy the ride.

For the capoeirista, well, Bitcoin offers what it offers everyone: true liberation to store value, free from theft and debasement. But here, the capoeirista ought to find double significance, as this is so much of what was denied to the very people who created capoeira under the heavy, thieving chains of slavery. Bitcoin is also a perfect complement to capoeira’s culture of individualism, liberation, wandering and informal economy. Finally, Bitcoin stands to free people, particularly people in “the third world” from money and systems that oppress and steal, an objective that couldn’t be more aligned with the heart and history of capoeira.

Bitcoin and capoeira, the two most enriching communities I have been fortunate to be part of: I do hope that you might learn from each other. Axé and happy Bitcoining!

This is a guest post by Moon. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Get Some Non-KYC Bitcoin Before You Need It

With institutional banks declaring war on Bitcoin, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with permissionless methods for stacking sats.

This is an opinion editorial by Moon, a Bitcoin Maximalist and writer.

Just in case we needed a reminder, banks are showing us that they can and will gatekeep their customers’ money to prevent them from engaging with bitcoin. This should be a call to action for Bitcoiners or anyone else who wants to maintain control over their finances to move toward more proactive use of permissionless bitcoin tools and practices.

Ever since Jamie Dimon decried Bitcoin as a “hyped-up fraud” and “a pet rock,” on CNBC in late January 2023, I have found myself unable to purchase bitcoin using my Chase debit card on Cash App. And I’m not the only one — if you’ve been following Bitcoin Twitter recently, you may have seen Alana Joy tweet about her experience with the same. 

In both of our cases, it is the bank preventing bitcoin purchases and blocking inbound fiat transfers to Cash App for customers that it has associated with Bitcoin, all under the guise of “fraud protection,” of course.

No, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense — Chase still allows ACH bitcoin purchases and fiat on Cash App can be used for investing in stocks, saving or using Cash App’s own debit card, not just bitcoin — but yes, it is happening. Also, no one seems to know exactly when this became Chase’s policy. The fraud representative I spoke with wasn’t sure and couldn’t point to any documentation, but reasoned that the rule has been in place since early last year. Yet murkier still, loose chatter can be found on Reddit about this issue going back to at least April 2021.

However, given that I and so many others were definitely buying bitcoin via Chase debit throughout 2021 and 2022, I’d wager that this policy, up to now, has only been exercised haphazardly, selectively, arbitrarily, even. Dark patterns abound, but for now, it seems like I just happen to be one of the unlucky ones…

That said, there is nothing preventing this type of policy from being enforced broadly and in earnest by one or many banks. If and as banks feel threatened by Bitcoin, we will surely see more of these kinds of opaque practices.

It’s Time To Get Proactive

Instead, we should expect it and prepare for it. So, rather than railing against banks, I want to use this as a learning experience to reflect on the importance of permissionless, non-KYC Bitcoining, and the practical actions we can take to advance the cause.

1. Bank with backups and remember local options. 

Banking is a service, not servitude. Treat it as such. Maintaining accounts at multiple banks may provide some limited fault tolerance against banks that take a hostile stance toward Bitcoin, assuming it does not become the industry norm. Further, smaller, local and regional banks may be more willing to work with Bitcoiner customers, as individual accounts can be far more meaningful to them than they are to larger national banks — though this certainly should not be taken for granted.

2. If you must use KYC’d Bitcoin services, do so thoughtfully. 

For Cash App (and services like it), consider first loading in fiat and making buys out of the app’s native cash balance instead of purchasing directly through a linked bank account/debit card where information is shared with the bank that allows it to flag the transaction for being related to bitcoin. Taking this small step may help to avoid gatekeeping and can provide some minor privacy, from the bank at least.

3. Become comfortable with non-KYC bitcoin exchanges.

Just as many precoiners drag their feet before making their first bitcoin buys, so too do many Bitcoiners drag their feet in using permissionless channels to buy and sell bitcoin. Robosats, Bisq, Hodl Hodl — you can use the tools. For anyone just getting started, BTC Sessions has excellent video tutorial content on all three, which are linked.

If you don’t yet know how to use these services, it’s better to pick up this knowledge now through calm, self-directed learning rather than during the panic of an emergency or under pressure of more Bitcoin-hostile conditions later. And for those of us who already know, we can actively support these services. For instance, more of us taking action to maintain recurring orders on such platforms could significantly improve their volumes and liquidity, helping to bootstrap and accelerate their network effects.

4. Be flexible and creative with peer-to-peer payment methods.

Cash App, Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Cash, Revolut, etc. — the services that most users seem to be transacting with on no-KYC exchanges — they would all become eager and active agents of financial gatekeeping in any truly antagonistic, anti-privacy environment, even when used in a “peer-to-peer” fashion.

Always remember that there are other payment options — such as gift cards, the original digital-bearer items — that do not necessarily carry such concerns. Perhaps, an enterprising soul might even use Fold to earn bitcoin rewards on the backend for the gift cards used on the exchange…

5. Find your local Bitcoin community!

In the steadily-advancing shadow war on all things permissionless, private, and peer to peer, this is our best defense. Don’t just wait until you need other Bitcoiners to get to know other Bitcoiners — to paraphrase Texas Slim, “Shake your local Bitcoiner’s hand.” Get to know people and never underestimate the power of simply asking around. There could be real, live Bitcoiners near you looking to sell some corn and happy to see it go to another HODLer rather than to a bunch of lettuce-handed fiat speculators on some faceless, centralized, Ponzi casino exchange. What’s more, let folks know your skills, talents and expertise — you might be surprised to find an interested market that pays in BTC!

In closing, I believe we should think of permissionless bitcoining as an essential and necessary core competency, just like we do with self custody. And we should push it with similar urgency and intensity. But as we do this, we should also remember that it is a spectrum and a progression and that there are no perfect solutions, only tradeoffs. Realization of the importance of non-KYC practices will not be instant or obvious to near-normie newcoiners, coin-curious fence-sitters or even many minted Bitcoiners. My own experience is certainly a testament to this.

As we promote the active practice of non-KYC Bitcoining, we can anchor to empathy, patience and humility — always being mindful of the tremendous amount of unlearning most have to go through to get there. So, even if someone doesn’t get it the first time, or the nth time, that they hear it from us, if it helps them get to it faster at all, then it’s well worth it.

This is a guest post by Moon. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.