Edna Lima: Capoeira Trailblazer

Edna Lima has blazed trails for women in capoeira in Brazil and the United Status. She began training capoeira in Brazil, and today has a school in New York. Edna Lima is not only a mestra of capoeira, but also a Godan, fifth degree blackbelt in karate. She has received many honors and awards for her work in Brazil, the U.S., and around the world. Read a little more about Edna Lima:

Edna Lima is a well-known professor and “performer” of capoeira. Edna has a university degree in physical education and has developed a Capoeira teaching program for schools in Brazil. She is also a professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Long Island in the United States. Edna Lima participated in the movie “Rooftops”, and has also appeared in magazines such as Fitness Magazine, American Health, Vogue Paris, and Cosmopolitan, In the summer of 2001 she was honored by the New York City Council as a heroine of African-American culture. Beyond her work in New York, she is also a well-known capoeirista in Brazil and Europe, and she is regualry invited to participate in Capoeira events around the world…

How would you describe the significance of Capoeira for you?

Philosophy of life! For me, life is like a game of capoeira; you have to know how to give the right blows in the right situations. In life, you cannot make a decision without first analyzing all the consequences. In capoeira, when you make the decision to attack, you have to have in your mind the defense or counter-attack. If you are not prepared, don’t take that first step. In my life, I have various plans, if one does not work, I go with another. Flexibility and agiity in action, intelligence to choose the right option, are qualities that should be developed and aquired in life as in capoeira. In capoeira, you should respect your opponent, even if the person is a beginner. You may be surprised in the game, because in capoeira everything happens very quickly. Speed in action and reaction, I learned to use in capoeira as well as in my day-to-day.

How do male capoeiristas react, in general and in the game, to you, a female

When I started, there were not young girls doing capoeira. So, the boys and the professor made no distinction. This helped greatly in my development as a person and as a capoeirista.

In 1981, when I was only twenty years old, I graduated with a red belt (Mestre) from my capoeira teacher, Mestre Tabosa. I began to understand that male capoeiristas didn’t like the idea. Capoeiristas from all over came to test the new and only woman Mestra. The played very aggressively with me as if they had never played before. If I were not in good physical shape and well trained, I would not have been able to deal with the pressure. Thanks to Mestre Tabosa, my friends from that time who always pushed me, and my mother, I stayed with capoeira.

Read the whole interview here (in Portuguese).

Read more about Edna Lima here (in English).

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