A Little Bit of Capoeira Philosophy

In December 1990, the magazine Cometa Itabirano, a little journal published in Itabira, Minas Gerias, did an interview with the leader of the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, Mestre Moraes. Here is an excerpt:

O Cometa: Is capoeira just a fight?

MM: In Brazil, capoeira accentuated its martial aspect because it had to be used as such. Capoeira came to Brazil in its original form, as a cultural manifestation, as a ritual of the black African religion. But they saw that this manifestation could be used as a liberation movement. The knife was not made to kill, but it can kill. This is what happened with capoeira. The knife is a weapon; there are times when it is a weapon and times when it is an instrument to cut. Just like the berimbau, it is an instrument, but you can use it like a weapon. Capoeira was this, but people limit themselves to see it only in the latter form. I believe that this incapacity, this laziness that we Brazilians have to abstract things is what makes it difficult for us to understand the most mystical aspects of capoeira.
For more of this thought-provoking article, see the whole piece (in Portuguese) in our archives.

There have been a number of requests for more mestre interviews. We have only so many in our archives. Please consider interviewing your mestre or teacher, or sharing a story of your own, and passing it onto our archives. Thank you!


First Official Roda for FICA-NYC

Taagen and Aaron open their game. T Fabio, T Baba, Njoli, & Feijão on the bateria.

FICA-NYC hosted its first official roda on June 16th. People from all over showed up-- a bunch of students from M João Grande's school and Capoeira Angola Palmares (Mestre Nô), some of us from Washington, DC, and Kevin all the way from Mexico (technically, he's in NYC for the summer). It was a lot of fun-- you just have to get there on time. The roda starts at 10:00 am and ends a little before 1:00 pm. Afterwards everyone headed to the park for a post-roda picnic.

Student from M Nô's school shows off his moves with Ella, the coolest capoeirista around.


See you on July 21!

More pictures on the Portuguese side of the blog.


For all our Capoeira Angola families

In honor of all the little angoleiras and angoleiros that we have welcomed into our capoeira family in the past year, here's a corrido.

Quando meu filho nascer
Vou perguntar pra parteira
O que é que o meu filho vai ser
O meu filho vai ser capoeira
Capoeira capu


Mas não é karate nem também kung fu


Mas eu foi na Bahia comer carurú


Vim comer caruru e não comer angú


Eu dou uma armada, você sai no au


Eu moro em Ipanema, você em Bangú


Eu como galina, você urubú


Eu tomo café, você chupa umbú


Ê, lá na festa do Bomfim
Na mudança pra Ribeira
Pois até o Saci Pererê
De uma perna só vai jogar capoeira
Capoeira capu

…, and all those on their way (Gege, AntonioU, Dina…)!


Capoeira Angola in Bangkok

Phu leads the music class

World Capoeira Angola traveler, JenM went to Bangkok to visit the Capoeira Angola group for a second time-- and this time she brought her camera. Here's what she has to report back:

In May 2007, I had the great opportunity of returning to Bangkok and visited with Phu and his girlfriend Ryce. Phu trained Capoeira Angola with FICA-Chicago and then FICA-DC. He moved to Bangkok in May 2006. In October 2006 I went to visit with him and Ryce. One day we were training at Lumpini Park. A few guys came up to us and asked us what we were doing. Phu and Ryce explained to them about Capoeira Angola. Those same guys began training with Phu. When I went back in May 2007, the little group had grown. They were extremely interested in learning more about the history, philosophy, and spirituality of Capoeira Angola. It was very exciting to see them training and asking questions about movements and music. They were very motivated in learning how to make a berimbau, sing songs, and stand on their heads! If you are travelling to Bangkok or anywhere in South East Asia, make sure you stop in and visit Phu and Ryce. He has a great group and with the support of Ryce, they continue to spread Capoeira Angola to a new culture. They welcome good energy and is always up for training.

The group in Bangkok with artfully displayed berimbaus.

Jen, please explain this one.

More photos on the Portuguese side of the blog.

As always, many thanks to JenM. We expect those pictures to keep rolling in!

Still shots from Ypiranga DVD

A little something to go with your coffee & toast this morning:

Some nice photos from the filming of the Ypiranga DVD. Sent to us by Hélico from France.

Hélico (Paris 2005) all rights reserved.


Film about M Bimba

Nina Luz, film producer, Mestre Itapoã, Luiz Fernando Goulart, Director of the Film, M Cobra Mansa, and others at the film’s premiere in Salvador.

Filmmaker Luiz Fernando Goulart sent this message about his upcoming film about M Bimba.

“Mestre Bimba, Illuminated Capoeira” Finally in Brazilian Cinemas!

The long-awaited documentary that tells of the life of M Bimba, creator of Capoeira Regional, with never-seen-before footage of the great mestre and interviews with many of his students and aquaintances, will be coming soon to theaters in the major cities of Brazil the second week in August. The trailer to the film will be shown this week.

This will be a magic moment for those who love capoeira and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover who M Bimba is, for those who do not know. Pass this information on. Let’s fill the theaters and show, once again, the strength of our capoeira.

If you are near a city that is going to show the film, come out, bring your group, invite your friends and family. This mobilization will guarantee the success of the film and will help bring new students to capoeira, open new spaces within the media, and help others who want to produce films about capoeira.

The DVD, with bonus tracks of new footage will be available at the end of the year.

Muito AXÉ and a big hug,

Luiz Fernando Goulart

Here’s the website and a trailer for the movie, available through the website www.portalcapoeira.com-- which has a lot of information about capoeira regional and capoeira in general-- they even have crossword puzzles!


Happy Juneteenth!

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."
On this day in 1865, Union soldiers arrived into Galveston, Texas, U.S.A. to read the above declaration, informing the people of Texas that slavery had been abolished —more than 2 and a half years after it had been written into law.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863, but it took two and half years for the news to arrive in Galveston. It is generally believed that there was not a strong enough Union presence in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation until 1865 and the arrival of the Union troops.

Juneteenth is a day for reflection, to celebrate African-American culture, and enjoy food together, especially barbeque and strawberry soda pop.

While celebrating Juneteenth has fallen out of popularity, it is an official state holiday in Texas.

If you want to learn more, check out this site.


Capoeira Pererê Event

Here's an article and video about a great capoeira event that took place in Amsterdam. The article is in Portuguese. Here's a translation of a bit:

An event especially for people with physical and mental disabilities took place in Amsterdam on June 8 & 9. The event, called Capoeira Pererê, was an initiative of city official Oud Zuid and was organized by the Berimbau de Ouro Capoeira Association....

...Nikolai Klink of Finland came from Helsinki especially to participate in the event and give workshops. Although he was born without arms, and his feet are a bit turned to the inside, he has been doing capoeira for eight years. For him, the most important aspect of the Brazilian sport is the improvisation and the cultural traditions.

Van den Kieboom, who has been doing capoeira for a year, has only 2% vision in his left eye. With capoeira, he discovered new possibilities for his body… “It enriched my life. I met new people and learned about capoeira’s values and Brazilian culture.”

The great thing about capoeira is that because there are infinite ways to excel within it-- be it through singing, doing acrobatics, giving rasteiras, moving beautifully, moving quickly, moving slowly and controlled, knowing the history, improvising songs, etc.-- pretty much anyone can participate, find their path, and do well.

This event is an excellent example.


Capoeira Angola in Nicaragua

There's Capoeira Angola in Mexico and Costa Rica, and now a study group in Nicaragua. Here is a message from Maluquinho:

After the encounters with Mestre Cobra Mansa, I am starting a study group in the Rufino Garay Theater in Nicaragua to continue working for resistance through Capoeira Angola. A very difficult job here, but with the help of god and my mestre I will continue.

If anyone is looking to train in Managua, Nicaragua, the theater is in the Las Palmas park and the training days are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 6 -8 pm. Salutations and hugs for the entire FICA community that I am looking forward to meeting and playing in the roda. Thank you, Mestre Cobra Mansa, for the friendship and teaching.
We in the USA can take a road trip down to Brazil, visiting everyone along the way!


Odunde Festival Photo Re-cap

Felicia celebrates her birthday with a perfectly applied telefone.

On Sunday, capoeira folks from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Virginia, and New York gathered at the Odunde festival in Philadelphia for the white roda held every year at the festival. The Odunde Festival celebrates African-American culture and includes a procession to the river in honor of Oxum, an African market place, and various live performances.

It was a great roda, the weather was perfect, the Italian ice and funnel cake were flowing, and we drew an enthusiastic crowd all afternoon. We also celebrated the birthdays of Kamau (leader of FICA-Philadelphia) and Felicia.

Special thanks to the balloon vendors who provided an interesting backdrop for the roda and kept the children entertained.

New father Skher on the pandeiro.

Fabio and Denzel with the bateria.

Themba on the atabaque.

The three lovliest ladies at Odunde.

More pictures on the Portuguese side of the blog.


Freiburg Conference Wrap-up

CM Rogerinho, with M Rogério on the medio, and M Índio on the gunga, and CM Alexandre on the viola.

Lars sends these photos and report from the conference in Freiburg, Germany.

The last weekend of May, the Associação de Capoeira Angola Dobrada hosted its 12th annual Capoeira Angola Encounter in Freiburg (Germany). From Friday through Monday, angoleiras and angoleiros took classes with mestres Rogério, Índio, Russo or contra-mestres Rogério Teber and Alexandre and treinel Lagartixa. Each day concluded with a roda that was also open to the public. The event was relatively small with probably not much more than 60 participants. This fact contributed to the remarkably open and relaxed atmosphere during the entire encontro. Beginners and more experienced students would take the same classes together. In between classes, most of the participants gathered on the lawn outside the gymnasium to chat and share food - or simply to take a nap. The daily rodas sustained a joy and energy which allowed for very nice games to develop regardless of where the players were from or how little experience they had.

On one of the walls inside the gymnasium, mestre Russo of the Roda de Caxias had put up a photo exhibition about his work. Mestre Russo himself could usually be found nearby, happy to answer questions and talk about the individual photographs.

The party Sunday night would last till about 4 a.m.; and it included a live performance by mestre Rogério's reggae band Saveiro Azul.

This encounter also marked the 15th year for the Associação de Capoeira Angola Dobrada, which was founded 1992 in Kassel (Germany). Congratulations and respect for this achievement! And muito obrigado for this wonderful event.

M Russo opens the game with his opponent.


Thanks to Lars for the great report.

If you would like to send a wrap-up and/or photos of a workshop, performance, or event that you have attended, please e-mail it to us and we'll translate and post it.


Odunde, Odunde, Odunde!

Kamau & Eva from FICA-Philly sent this message reminding everyone about the annual Odunde Festival White Roda on Sunday, June 10. Hope you can make it:

Greetings FICA,

Come join FICA Philadelphia in its monthly roda at the Odunde African Street Festival. This roda is more than a 10 year tradition for our group and as alway wil be roda de branco. We will meet at 1:30 p.m. at the corner of 23rd and Greys Ferry. The roda will go from 2-6 p.m.

In addition, The Odunde Festival features a procession to the river with offerings to Oshun, 3 stages of live entertainment for the whole family, vendors, and more.

Can't wait to see everyone,

FICA Philly


FICA video featuring Chichi Peralta

Ok, so its really a Chichi Peralta video featuring FICA-Bahia and FICA-Rio, but that's just semantics.

Check out this great video (altho next time a little more capoeira and a little less bad dancing-- where did they find those dancers at about 3:00-4:00??).

You'll see lots of great shots of Pelourinho, as well as M Valmir, CM Rogerinho, T Baba, T Jorge, Aloan, Dija, Roque, Dulce, Luciana, Alexandre, and Alder. There are others there too, but it cuts out so quickly-- let me know if we missed you.

Thanks to AnaMariaC for the link!


M Marco Aurelio looks back at his Capoeira Angola roots

M Marco Aurelio shared this story with "Caxixi" magazine, which was published during the 2002 conference in Washington, DC:

I started training capoeira when I was thirteen years old and I met Mestre Moraes in a capoeira roda in the academy of Mestre Indio in the Flamengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro… Moraes gave classes at the House of the Sailor in Rio de Janeiro and I though it was strange the way this Angoleiro played because I had never seen anything similar. After some time, I started to train with Mestre Moraes in the Gurilândia club in the Botanical Garden neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. It was then that I met Braga, José Carlos, Neco, and Lumumba, who trained there. In 1975, myself, Braga, Neco, Lu, Peçanha, and others went to Salvador, Bahia, staying at the house of the parents of Moraes in the Baixa do Petróleo, Massaranduba neighborhood. We met Mestre Pastinha, who by then was already blind and quite old. In this opportunity, there is an interesting story: Moraes had written a ladainha in honor of Mestre Pastinha and we organized a bateria with berimbaus so that could sing it. He stayed on the gunga, and after finishing the music, the Mestre asked:
-Pedrinho (Moraes), are you on the viola?

-No, Mestre, answered Moraes, it’s the boy that came with us (Marco Auelio)

Pastinha thought for a bit and said:

-Menino, you are not going to give up capoeira, no!

Following this trip, and the story, I was invited by Moraes to train capoeira, receiving the title of Mestre from him in the Copaleme Club, in the Leme neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro in 1982.

The rest of this article and more are available for your perusal in our archives collection in Washington, DC.