Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado) was a great capoeirista who lived from 1900-1973. He is best known for inventing the style called “capoeira regional,” which opened the door for the legalization of capoeira in Brazil and its spread in popularity throughout the country.
Manoel dos Reis Machado was born on November 23rd to Luiz Cândido Machado and Maria Martinha do Bonfim; there is some doubt about the exact year of his birth (1899 or 1900). His nickname of “Bimba” came from a bet between his mother and the midwife about whether the baby would be a boy or girl – the mother bet it would be a girl, and the midwife that it would be a boy. When Manoel was born, the midwife said, “It’s a boy; look at his bimba (slang for male sexual organ).”
Mestre Bimba learned capoeira at the age of 12 from an African sailor named Bentinho. He would go on to create the Regional style of capoeira and open the first capoeira academy in the world, thus leading to the revocation of the laws from 1890 that prohibited capoeira and punished it with prison time.
Mestre Bimba was a capoeirista and fighter of great renown; he publicly challenged martial artists of any style to face him in the ring and won all matches. His pioneering method of teaching capoeira attracted many students who later became great mestres, such as Acordeon, Itapoan, Ezequiel, Nenel, Cafuné, Senna, Decânio, Damião, Jair Moura, and others.
Disappointed with the lack of support and recognition for his work in Bahia, he moved to the state of Goiânia in 1973, where he died the following year. He is remembered as a great innovator in capoeira with a powerful and charismatic personality.
I didn’t do capoeira for myself… I did it for the world
- Mestre Bimba
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