Fabio Santos – Capoeira Specialist and Stunt Performer

Today it is our privilege to bring you an interview with Capoeira Specialist and Stunt Performer, Fabio Santos. We discuss the influences that have shaped Fabio’s outlook on life, his role as a coach, his goals and plans for the future, plus much more…

How did your passion for Capoeira begin and develop?

My passion for Capoeira started back in Brazil; the film ‘Only the Strong” inspired me a lot. However what made me actually start trying the first class, was when I was about 10 years old and I had a friend name Jairo. We were playing football one day, and we were playing against each other. I have always been very competitive, I was ok at football, well at least I would like to think so, but Jairo was really good as well and younger than me, and that didn’t help my ego. I remember when he scored a goal, he did a “kick the moon”  like a backflip and I was like ‘wow…how can he do that?!’ I had only seen this in films, so I approached him and asked how he learned the move. He was super humble about it, told me he did Capoeira and that was where he learned how to do it. From that moment I wanted to do learn how to do those tricks.

After the first class, I saw that people were doing moves even better than those that I saw on the film “Only the Strong”. They were moving like it was nothing, so easy, so casual,  that hooked me straight away. I didn’t know back then what Capoeira would become for me, but I wanted to learn it so badly.

I learned and I keep saying to people that train with me:

“Capoeira has a beginning, but it has no end” … you will always be learning and I think this is why I am so passionate about it.

What does a typical week of training usually consist of?

It all the depends, if I have any work booked, etc… but I try to train some sort of weights or conditioning 3 times a week to help prevent injury and get my body ready for Capoeira/tricking/etc, then 1 – 2  days just Capoeira.

Ideally, one extra sport, either another martial arts/tricking/swimming or any other skills as well during the week.

What principles have you learned from Capoeira that have helped you in other areas of life?

I don’t know if this was in me already, but I know for sure I learned it in Capoeira! I saw many people with the determination to achieve what they want, not to give up! I am not necessarily talking about a specific movement, trick or kick.

In my Capoeira journey so far I have met many people who were going through a really hard time. Their determination to keep trying to learn, keep going, even though a lot of things were against them was incredible and inspiring!

I am sure there are situations like that in many other sports and disciplines, but in Capoeira, or at least where I came from, it was very normal. I can’t explain why we all kept coming back, but for me and for those people we were happy, it made us forget everything around us! I know I can’t put in words what it is, but you will have to try to understand ..!!

I joke a lot about the expression, I keep saying to my students, “ I rest when I die” but I live by it, not just talking about training but also difficult situations in life. Like many other people I am going through difficult/complicated times right now, but for me I will keep trying to move forward or I will die trying. If life is moving so am I…! I am not sure if I learned that from Capoeira, but I learned it in Capoeira and for that I am thankful and apply that in my life as much as I can.

How have you mixed Capoeira with other movement disciplines throughout the years?

I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible athletes around the world while I was performing, parkour, breakdance, football, other martial arts, etc…

I love learning and I always end up applying my Capoeira skills to these movements or the other way around.

Capoeira is always evolving and every time I am learning something new, I am incorporating or putting my own Capoeira flavour into it.
Parkour had a big impact on my life as well. I started to train and learn it over 13 years ago in Basingstoke when I met Chase Armitage, Cane, Sam, Shaun all the 3Run Guys and they became my family here as well!

Training/working/travelling doing what you love for a living is the best experience ever and for me I am always competing with myself. I know I need to do my best to keep that dream going!

I would never stop training, I want to be learning more and more, so every time I have the opportunity to learn something new, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I will try.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to transform their passion into a business/ career?

For me it happened without having much of a plan! As I left home very young, I didn’t know what I was doing, so I was acting on instinct or observing how people around me were doing. I have made a lot of mistakes of course, wasted a lot time. After many years I have started to understand and also accept and seek help and educate myself in the areas I need to learn, to help me grow.

Whatever your passion is put time into educating yourself about it; understand it; be the best version of yourself. If you are good at what you do, naturally it can become your business. If it makes you happy, you won’t mind spending hours working towards it, if you enjoy what you do.

I could spend five hours straight training/teaching Capoeira/martial arts/movement and it wouldn’t be forced because I enjoy it. People can tell when you are doing something you love because it’s genuine or when you are doing it only for money.
Don’t get me wrong, to have success in anything takes time and hard work. You need to know and learn about business or work with someone that does. If you are doing something that you enjoy it makes the journey much more pleasant and makes you keep trying until you get it or find success.

What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to get started with sport and fitness?

As with many things in life, sometimes it is only after reaching the bottom, or having something bad happen to us, that we know and feel we need to change.

For some people, they only think about their goals. For example they might think, about the result of having a great body/six-pack or doing this move, but if you don’t know how to, it’s very easy to lose motivation, or find an excuse!

I know it’s not easy; the journey to have a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy! If you have always done sports or have people around you that are into it, it’s easier… Most of my life I have trained alone. I will be honest, I have made many mistakes. I was too proud to ask for help, I just wanted to show the results of my training and effort.

For me it was a case of necessity. I needed to make it work somehow. I was training with some very talented people and it was my work as well. I thought, if I wasn’t good enough I would lose my job, and then, how would I have supported my family?! …I had no choice… So I will keep trying until I find the way that works.

My advice is; surround yourself with people that are into sports, that are driven to success or want something out of their life, that will help you to move forward and bounce back for each other…!

Something that always helped me is the fear of losing what I have achieved already! I know I worked so hard to get where I am, and I think it is even harder work to start from zero again like I did many times before, so I keep going.

It is very important so see results of your training or whatever it is that you have put your time into, so I strongly advise you to educate yourself. If you don’t see the results you want, the chances are you need help, or at least it would be a less painful journey if you knew how to get there.

Again this is only my opinion and might come across a bit rude but it’s what I think. If I want to learn from someone, I pick someone who lives and applies whatever it is they are teaching in their own life as well, especially if it’s related to health or fitness.

Are there any people, books or experiences that you would be willing to share with us that have really helped shape your mentality?

Yeah sure, there are many people who inspire me, most of them don’t even know and people wouldn’t know of them, as they’re not famous…

Books that have helped to start my journey of education:

– ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ – Robert Kiyosaki
– Jim Rohm – is another person that I read a lot from and inspired me
-‘Outwitting the Devil’ – Napolean Hill
– ‘Go For No’ – Richard Fenton

Can you tell us about your role as a coach?

I really love Capoeira, as it has gave me so much in my life, and I love the feeling when I can teach someone to achieve something that they have been trying hard at or really want.

It’s an amazing feeling when you are the one that makes it happen, so I really enjoy teaching and finding ways to help people get what they are after, feel good about themselves, etc..

I know that if they develop that passion for Capoeira/movement they will live better, happier and I know that they will keep going. I like that, because I know what it feels like…

What are your goals and plans for the future?

Hmmmm, I want to keep doing what I am doing; training, learning, doing what I love, helping others. I want to have as many like-minded people around me as possible, I have two big plans for the future:

I want to get closer to my family who are in Brazil somehow, especially after this crazy situation we are living in.

The other big goal of mine that I’ve been trying already is to give back to Capoeira what it has given to me. So I want to show to as many people as possible how much it has helped me and can potentially do the same for them. I want to share to the world as much as I can about Capoeira!


Interviewer: @tudge_

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