With the upcoming workshop with Professor Bambu, I thought I'd write an article about who he is, and what he represents so that folks coming into the workshop would have a better idea of who it is they are learning from.
Steven Kolhouse, or as he is known in the Capoeira world: Professor Bambu, has been training in the art since 1998. I first met him when I was a student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN circa 2001 - 2002. At the time, myself and several other students were establishing a new Capoeira club at the University, and we had a couple of students who knows the art (beginner themselves), taught the classes. However, it soon became obvious that we needed a real teacher - someone proficient in the art - to teach us the proper Capoeira.
I could still remember the first time we met him, and was blown away by his Capoeira skill. We held a small class on a small theater stage above PMU (Purdue Memorial Union), and saw him performing very crisp and clean Capoeira techniques of meia lua de compasso, mortal (backflip), bananeira-to-queda-de-rins, etc. so flawlessly that we knew at that moment that we had found a teacher who we were yearning for. The rest is history - we started driving back and forth between West Lafayette to Indianapolis (1 hr. drive) twice a week (or as much as we could) to learn from him. Sometime in 2004, our paths were separated, after I graduated, I moved to Maryland and Bambu moved to Chicago. The bond of student - teacher, however, never vanished (at one point, I actually drove from Maryland to Indy just to catch a class on a whim). Since then, I was fated to be a travelling Capoeirista, as was my teacher before me.
Over the years, I continued to travel, train with Mestre, Bambu and other great teachers in the Grupo, and I have met many good Capoeiristas come and go. Professor Bambu, however, was one of the constants in the Grupo, with his dedication, passion and persistence in developing his skills, and his student base; he would continuously evolve his game and understanding of Capoeira - Of this, I am truly inspired.
There was an interview done by my fellow student-teachers - Feijoada and Avestruz of Axé Capoeira Atlanta - shortly after Bambu receives his Professor cord in 2013, which I find very interesting. Below is an excerpt of said interview:
Axé Atlanta: You’ve been training with Axé Capoeira for such a long time and have held many different belts, each with their own pressures, required levels of experience and commitment. For the beginner student new to Capoeira, it is difficult to fathom what becoming a Professor within our organization means…could you provide some insight as to what it takes to become a Professor of Capoeira under Mestre Barrão and Axé Capoeira?
Prof. Bambu: I think patience and humility are the most important things to have. Yes, hard training, determination, and all those things are needed, but patience above all.
It’s very difficult to become a professor, even an instrutor, in this group because the standards are so high. I think we have less than 10 instructors world wide, yet, there are almost that many in Chicago alone from other groups. The things one needs to know are beyond that of any group that I’ve encountered. Beyond capoeira skills, you have to speak the language, understand the culture, and be proficient at playing all forms of Brazilian music beyond capoeira, just to name a few. I held the previous belt for almost 8 years. During that time, I’ve watched other groups’ beginners become my “equal”, high students pass me, professors jump 3 ranks to become Mestres, and countless people leave our group and vault into way higher ranking. Our professors could be contra mestres [assistant master] or even Mestres [master] in other groups, but it’s important to remember that the belt/title does nothing for you. No one respects me more because I have a new belt. I’m the same capoeirista I was a month ago. People will respect you based on your abilities and knowledge.