Oct 27 2011

Was Mestre Bimba an angoleiro?

Written by Mestre Decânio
Source: Capoeira da Bahia
Translation into English by Shayna McHugh

Look at this close-up from the photograph of Mestre Bimba “playing” capoeira with Asclépios Ferrer in the beginning of the 1930s, found on page 19 of the book Mestre Bimba, a crônica da capoeiragem by Jair Moura (Salvador, 1991).

Observe his relaxation, his middle-guard posture, his smiling, mocking face, the swing of his trunk, his loose shoulders, with relaxed arms and fists, hands in the shape of conch shells, his upper limbs protecting the head and belly in sweeping movement, his balance centralized in the waist.

It is the position of a semi-crouched animal, ready for attack, retreat, or strike; compatible with an unforeseeable number of rapid movements: esquiva, cabeçada, giros (turns), attacks using the upper or lower limbs.

This photo shows the similarity between the movements of the style Mestre Bimba taught until the 1940s and those of the “capoeira game,” vadiação (hanging around) or brincadeira (playfulness) that some prefer to call traditional capoeira; the womb, the source of the styles called Angola by Mestre Pastinha and Regional by the followers of Mestre Bimba.

Understanding by the term “Angola” the game (not the fight) of capoeira, the initial and only form existing in his youth, Bimba was an angoleiro and we continue all of us in regional as angoleiros…

The only modification that the Mestre introduced was the establishment of a systemized teaching method to facilitate the learning of those who did not bring in their bodies the African cultural inheritance of the movements and rhythm of candomblé. This teaching method was so successful that it also works with the direct descendents of Africans.

The movements Bimba introduced are compatible with capoeira’s nature. They are used in personal defense by angoleiros, and excluded in games by ritual in order to protect the practitioners and avoid violence.

The game of Iúna represents the highest point of regional and demonstrates all the ability and choreographic potential of the capoeira game. Bimba respected and considered the “capoeira game” as the climax of regional so much that he limited the game of Iúna to graduated students, the only ones worthy of the title of capoeirista in their style…

The introduction of new movements, the amplification of capoeira’s field of application to self defense, the throws and the special trainings – these are natural growths resulting from the maturing of a developmental process, on the way towards a sporting regulation that will eventually culminate the current stage of development.

Thus the final answer is: Bimba was an angoleiro, yes sir!

And all his true students continue angoleiros,
when they play capoeira without fights and violence!
Bimba always respected Pastinha…
And we also honor Mestre Pastinha!
Unity makes strength and brings peace!