Mestre Mão Branca

William Douglas Guimarães, Mestre Mão Branca, was born on the 14th of April 1960, in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. His nickname was given during a roda in Rio de Janeiro. At the time there was an infamous justice-seeker called Mão Branca and as it was cold, William Douglas Guimarães would use white gloves to take part in the roda. People started to call him Mão Branca and the nickname stuck, it would bring him luck.

Mão Branca started capoeira with Mestre Jacaré (Luis Mario Gabeira Jacaré), in Belo Horizonte. At the time he was 16 years old and had trained with Jacaré 6 months but he had to move to Rio and it was there, in Niterói, that he came across Mestre Gigante’s gym ´Negrinho de Sinha´ and started to train there.

 

He got the first cordel, green, then afterwards the green-yellow moving on to yellow and finally yellow-blue before going back to Belo Horizonte to look for work. When he got there capoeira was being practised in the streets.

He started to give classes at the DCE at Universidade Catolica, through Mestre Dunga. He used to work during the day and gave classes at night. The platform for his work was set. He returned briefly to Rio to be graduated to teacher by obtaining the blue cordel and on the following day he graduated to the contra-mestre cordel. Mão Branca received the first mestre cordel (white-green) in 1985, the second (white and yellow) in 1995 and the third grade of mestre (white blue) in 2005. In 1992 he was decorated with an Honorary Diploma of Sporting Merit by the city council of Belo Horizonte. He founded and was president of the ‘Federação Mineira de Capoeira’ for 4 years. And he was also one of the founders of the ‘Confederação Brasileira de Capoeira’.

After the death of Mestre Gigante, the ‘Negrinhos de Sinha’ was left without a leader and that’s how Mão Branca felt the necessity to set off on his own road creating ´ECCEAGE´ (Escola Cultural Capoeira Gerais).

In homage to Mestre Bimba, he founded his school on the 5th of February 1992 which was the anniversary of the death of Mestre Bimba. On this date, every year, he holds an event which is called ‘Grande roda Bimba nao morreu’ (Big roda Bimba is not dead).

Capoeira Gerais today is one of the largest and best groups of capoeira on the sporting and cultural scene in both Brazil and elsewhere. With its base in Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais, it has affiliated schools spread throughout the world.

Some creations of Mestre Mão Branca: the handshake garra, uniao e forca and the farewell chant at the end of every lesson:

Salve Mestre Bimba / Salve Mestre Pastinha / Salve Besouro / Salve Zumbi

Salve Mestre Gigante / Salve Negrinhos de Sinhá / Salve Capoeira Gerais / IÊ!

 

 

 

Mestre Bimba

 

Manuel dos Reis Machado was born on the 23rd of November 1900, in Engenho Velho, Freguesia das Brotas, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He got his nickname soon after he had been born due to a bet between his mother, Maria Martinha do Bonfim, and the midwife who helped to bring him to life.

His father, Luis Candido Machado, was a known ‘batuqueiro’, a champion.

Bimba started capoeira when he was 12 years old. His mestre was the African Bentinho, a navy captain. Bimba started to teach capoeira in his neighbourhood when he was 18. As he himself used to say:

‘In 1918 there wasn’t any capoeira school. There used to be ‘rodas de capoeira’, on street-corners, in the warehouses, in the woods.´

 

‘In 1918 there wasn’t any capoeira school. There used to be ‘rodas de capoeira’, on street-corners, in the warehouses, in the woods.´

In 1928 he thought that the capoeira he practised was not very competitive as a martial art, so he included some other kicks to ‘capoeira Angola’ and created ‘capoeira regional’.

‘I invented regional capoeira. While I was studying and practising Angola, I invented and perfected some new movements. In 1928, I invented, the regional form which is basically ‘batuque’ mixed with Angola and some additional movements, a real fight, good for the body and for the mind.’

The Regional Capoeira invented by mestre Bimba was polemic topic amongst other capoeiristas who didn’t agree with this radical change. On the other hand, the newspapers and magazines were happy to publish all of his skills. Mestre Bimba and his Regional Capoeira became famous throughout Brazil.

In 1932, he opened his first school with the name “Centro de Cultura Física e Regional”. Five years later, in 1937, was recognized and registered by the government.

In 1939, Bimba taught Regional Capoeira at CPOR headquarters. He opened his second school in 1942.

Bimba spread the word of capoeira in many exhibitions all over Brazil and in the 23 July 1953, he made a presentation to President Getulio Vargas, at Aclamação Palace, in Salvador. While shaking hands with Mestre Bimba, the president said:

‘Capoeira is the only real Brazilian sport.’

It was because of this meeting with Bimba that President Getulio Vargas opened the doors to popular demonstrations of capoeira, which were persecuted and prohibited before. This was of great benefit to capoeira as it was no longer forbidden by the police.

Being married, and a father of 10, Bimba had financial difficulties. He believed that he would be recognised one day for his work and his life would improve. For this reason he left Salvador and went to Goiania. His life in Goiania, however, was not as promised. A year later, on the 5th of February 1974, Mestre Bimba died.

‘The man who elevated capoeira to a better level, who ‘took it from under the ox’s feet’ (as he used to say), and introduced it to the universities and the society of Salvador, who was mentioned in encyclopaedias and who was filmed by tourists from all over the world.´

Buried in Goiania, his remains were taken to Salvador on the 20th July 1978.

´Bimba is gone but left his majesty, his unique work which, like him, became immortal, leaving his philosophy and strength to make a strong and authentic capoeira, proudly called Regional, the Brazilian martial art.´

Some of Bimba´s inventions:

Regional Capoeira, at that time with 52 movements

A teaching method called ‘Bimba’s sequences’ that consists of 8 sequences of defence and attack to be done in the roda.

‘cintura desprezada’ sequence which is a series of ‘baloes acinturados’, that the students can only perform after graduation while iuna is played.

Capoeira baptism, a ritual where the student is initiated in capoeira receiving a nickname and his first belt (graduation)

Graduation which consists of 4 silk scarves as follows:

blue: graduated

red: graduated and specialised

yellow: arms course

white: mestre

 

 

 

Mestre Pastinha

 

Vicente Ferreira Pastinha, son of Jose Senor Pastinha and Raimunda dos Santos, was born on April 5, 1889, in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He began Capoeira when he was 10 years old with Negro Bentinho, who had watched Pastinha through his window, losing fights to boys older than him. This made Negro Bentinho decide to teach Pastinha how to use the movement, entrances and escapes of Capoeira.

 

Mestre Pastinha did a little bit of everything. He joined the Marines for 8 years, he was a painter, a poet, practiced fencing, played soccer, was a shoe-shiner, a philosopher, a tailor, security at a casino, a music composer, but he always felt a strong attraction, in his heart, to Capoeira.

When asked what the importance of Capoeira was for him he answered: "I was born for Capoeira, I love to play Capoeira, it's the only thing I will be left with when I die."

 

In 1910, when Pastinha was 21 years old he opened his first academy in a place called Bigode in Campo da Polvora. In 1941 he moved his academy to a large space in the Historical Center of Pelourinho.

 

Here Pastinha adopted the colors black and yellow, for his Capoeira uniforms, those were the colors of his favorite soccer team, Ypiranga. It was there, in his academy in Pelourinho, that Pastinha taught his technique and wisdom. He showed Capoeira to tourists from all over the world.

 

In 1964 with the help of his good friend, and famous author, Jorge Amado, Pastinha published his first book called Capoeira Angola.

 

 

Pastinha represented Capoeira in various states in Brazil and formed part of the delegation that represented Brazil in the first Festival of Black Art in Senegal, Africa in 1966. In 1973, at 84 years of age, Pasinha, already famous witin and outside of Brazil, was kicked out of the space he had used for his academy for 32 years by the state government. They transformed what had been a rich and strong center of Capoeira into a restuarant.

 

This expropriation was the most difficult event for Mestre Pastinha.

 

He was forced to move out of his academy with his wife, daughter and three grandchildren, to a small room in the Alfredo Britto street where he lived his last years forgotten. He expressed his frustration in these words:

 

"This wood bench is all that I have. Today I am convinced that I was tricked. I gave it my all, but the truth is that I was used. No matter what, if I were to be born again, I would choose the same life: Capoeria."

 

His wife Maria Romelia Costa Oliveira took care of him until he died. Mestre Pastinha had his first stroke on May 1978, and a second one, one month later. In 1980 he was tranferred to Dom Pedro II, a home for senior citizens. There, with many other old people and his wife, Mestre Pastinha died on November 13, 1981. He was buried in Campo Santo Cementery, on the same day.

 

During his funeral, to accompany him in his final dream, the soft sound of berimbaus were played.

 

"However, we don't feel sad when we think about Pastinha because he so well represented the culture and life of Brazil. With people such as Pastinha, we learn and become really wise."

--Jorge Amado-

 

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