Translated into English by Shayna McHugh
Mestre Squisito was born in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais on March 11, 1953. His first contact with capoeira occurred around 1968 in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, where he met a capoeirista at school. He really established himself in capoeira in Brasília in 1974, in the Academia Tabosa de Capoeira, the most famous academy of the time.
How do you reconcile life as a capoeira mestre with life as the father of a family?
It’s a question of balancing the two things. The majority of people stop pursuing art or sports with the excuse of being too busy with their families. But the ideal is to balance both, so that in addition to family life, the person has an outlet for leisure and enjoyment. Of course this will help them be a better, more balanced and healthy father, because quitting any activity damages your overall personhood.
What was your biggest challenge in capoeira?
Continuity. The large majority of people who begin learning capoeira quit within a year. Of those that continue, many more quit in the second year, and so on. Even people with great ability and potential abandon capoeira for a variety of reasons: lacking time to train, moving far away from their home group and being reluctant to join another group, marriage, religion, laziness, taking up a different sport, studies, illnesses – all in all, there are infinite reasons that act as a “filter” for capoeiristas over the course of time. The only ones who become real capoeiristas are those who incorporate capoeira into their soul. That takes time.
Because it’s Brazilian. Because it’s revolutionary. Because it’s fascinating. Because it’s pure energy. Because it’s history. Because it’s philosophy. Because it fights for a dignified Brazilianness, for a political resistance against the cultural colonization of the American world. For love and liberty.
Have you ever thought about quitting capoeira? Why?
Yes, I’ve had a weak moment. When I saw that capoeiristas were going in a direction that would lead to a crisis of identity and values, losing the connection with their roots because of growing egos. Then I found an escape: to do as the old sailor who drives his boat very slowly during a storm…
How can capoeira influence the minds of children and teenagers?
Capoeira influences the minds of people of any age!! Teenagers are just more malleable because they are in the process of constructing their personalities; they receive many responsibilities and influences. In capoeira, this is very strong: because of capoeira’s energy, they become part of the group, adopting its rules, ethics, values, and, unfortunately, all the negative things too. At this time in their lives, their parents should be counselors; they should be especially attentive because young people depend on this to avoid certain risks of adopting twisted values…
Today, what capoeirista has the greatest expression?
Mestre João Grande, without a doubt. He is the main person responsible for the rediscovery of capoeira angola as a legacy of inestimable value!
Which capoeira is more efficient: Angola or Regional?
No efficiency exists by itself. Mestre Bimba’s Regional was undoubtedly efficient at a very important time: during the moment in History in which capoeira needed strength, combativeness, clear performance, decision! Mestre Bimba inserted these elements into capoeira Angola, rescuing the possibility of its expansion and recognition, because his capoeira clearly displayed its competence and efficiency to anyone who was looking. This is a historical fact, not an opinion.
But Regional itself arose from Angola, therefore, we could say that it was a response given by capoeira angola when faced with a certain situation. Nowadays we see Angola come to have more importance, because the current problem is different: we have too much space occupied by capoeira and too few rules; too much violence and too little axé; too much competition and too little respect; too much inventiveness and too little tradition!
I think that God and the Orixás guide the path of capoeira so that the art always has a response for any adversary. That is what guarantees its efficiency, which is a continuous efficiency throughout History: a response for each moment and each problem, a weapon to fight each challenge, a path out of each crossroads. This takes its practitioners out of their routine and enables them to reconnect with their roots, eternal roots, where the tree of liberty always grows, bearing fruit of love, brotherhood, and constant improvement of the human self and spirituality!