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revised December 29, 2009

Hommage to masters

Rather than repeat whatever we heard about famous people in the capoeira world, we prefer pay hommage to those masters that we know.

mestre Nô Mestre Nô

Norival Moreira de Oliveira was born in Coroa, Itaparica, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil on June 22, 1945. At 7, Norival and his family moved to Massaranduba, a poor neighborhood not far from the church of Bomfim. Mestre Nilton and Mestre Cutica, brothers and highly respected capoeiristas who lived down the block, took young Norival to meet the elder masters Pirró and Zeca. Pirró, Zeca and Nilton organized and commanded many capoeira rodas in the streets.

Norival began playing in the mestre's rodas and in 1965 he started teaching in his own academy. Mestre No founded Capoeira Academies Retintos, Orixas da Bahia and Capoeira Palmares. He has taught to thousands of capoeristas. He is founder, president, and grand master of Associacao Brasileira Cultural de Capoeira Palmares (ABCCP) an organization dedicated to teaching, promoting and maintaining the traditions of Capoeira Angola.

Today, Mestre No lives with his wife, children and grand children in Boca do Rio, Salvador. He teaches capoeira in Pituba and travels throughtout Brazil in the US and other parts of the world.

Capoeira Palmares Paris Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris

Mestre Sombra Mestre Sombra

Roberto Teles de Oliveira, Mestre Sombra, was born on february 6, 1942, in Santa Rosa de Lima, in the Northeastern Brazilian state of Sergipe, in a family of petty shopkeepers.

He worked first in the building trade in Aracaju, capital town of the state, the in 1962 he moved to Santos, the great harbour of São Paulo, more than a thousand miles away. He worked odd jobs until 1968, when he was employed as a stevedor. In 1963, he had met a capoeira group called Bahia do Berimbau, lead by a 60-year old retired coffee worker born in Bahia, the Master Olímpio Bispo dos Santos. This group used to meet in Itapema (now Vicente de Carvalho), on the other side of the Santos Channel.

Only after Mestre Olímpio's death in 1972 they succeeded their move to the city of Santos, not without many difficulties, under the supervision of Sombra, who by the same sad event had been acknowledged a capoeira Master, as the rule went at that time. In 1974, they went to São Paulo, the capital state of the state 50 miles inland, to register
at the newly founded São Paulo state Capoeira Federation, after they had gone through the process of legalization of their group into an association bearing the name of Zumbi, that of the legendary war chief of the Maroon state Quilombo das Palmares, which resisted for nearly a century Portuguese domination in North-Eastern Brazil in the seventeenth century. In 1975, the association found its training place near the docks district of Santos, rua Bras Cubas, n. 227, where it has been ever since. It changed its name to Senzala, after the slave's quarters in the old-time plantations.

The Senzala academy has trained several generations of skilled capoeiristas, teachers and masters. Mestre Sombra's achievements has been known and apreciated in Santos and in the nearby, so much through countless capoeira shows and events the Senzala has participated in or organized as thanks to the new academies that the mestre's old students have set up in all neighbouhoods. The Capoeira schools in Santos have organised into the Liga Santista de Capoeira (Santos Capoeira League) of which Master Sombra is the chairperson. Mestre Sombra came to be Coordenador of the official Black Community Council in Santos.

In 1993, he retired from the Docks and ventured in the trade, opening a small shop selling clothes and capoeira things, the Bazar Senzala, a few hunded yards from the academy. Often he is called away to participate in capoeira events in Brasil, in Europe, in America, to help his former students in their teaching and maintain the link with them and their own students.

Master Sombra participated in the recording of two capoeira music CD's in Paris with Mestre Beija-Flor and recorded one in Santos with Mestre Bahia, both former students of his.

Words from mestre Sombra...

Mestre Sombra likes to utter those sentences which one remembers, without ever knowing if one really understood what they mean, poet's phrases that leave one thinking :

Jogar capoeira é pôr o corpo em oração.

To play capoeira is to set the body to prayer.

Capoeira luta sem vencer, porisso vence sem lutar.

Capoeira struggles without winning, that's how it wins without struggling.

... and others.

Capoeira Palmares Paris Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris

Mestre Um por Um Mestre Um-por-Um

Nilton Machado de Almeida (Mestre Um-por-Um), was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on february 20, 1957.

He began his aprenticeship in capoeira with master Diton in 1972, in the Salvador neighbourhood of Massaranduba. He recalls that the master was not very eager to admit him, thinking that he was very dumb and wouldn't learn. All the same, some time later he had to feel proud to see this student of his, this former street urchin that used to pay for his first lessons giving out a day's labour with the master on building works, doing so well in the roda.

A few years later, he entered Mestre Nô's academy, intending to earn a diploma for his capoeira abilities, which neither his master, nor Mestre Grande, with whom he trained some time too, could give him, because their academies had no formal registration. So he stayed five or six years in Mestre Nô's academy, Orixás da Bahia (now under the supervision of Master Dinelson). At this time, capoeira had already changed his life a lot, dipping him in a social life that he had not known of, earning him a little money through shows, encouraging him and giving means to study, so that he could afterwards enlist in the Police Force.

Capoeira in this time had tough challenges, but he dodged all traps, and in the end he began to teach. After a number of testing moments, he was acknowledged a master, and head of his Chapeu de couro academy, named after the leather hat of the Brazilian desert cow-boy, also the name of an acrobatic capoeira kick in which the foot flies in the air along the same round shape.

Now Mestre Um-por-Um is one of the relevant personalities of suburban capoeira in Salvador, in the line of those to whom capoeira is really an art, a school and a means of survival in a difficult social surrounding.

We reported in video on a roda directed by master Um-Por-Um in Bahia en 2001.

Capoeira Palmares Paris Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris

Mestre Beija-Flor Mestre Beija-Flor

Gilberto Quini was born in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo state, Brazil, on september 22, 1959. In 1972, he moved with his mother in the sea-side city of São Vicente, in the same state. He encountered capoeira in the nearby harbour of Santos, in mestre Sombra's academy, Senzala. He got called Beija-Flor (humming bird) because of his amazing acrobatic moves in the roda. After a few years training, he completed his course in 1980. He began helping teaching in the academy, then he opened his own. In 1987, he got a chance to travel to Europe with a folcklore show. He decided to settle in Paris. On the next year, he founded the Association de Capoeira Paname. He received the diploma of Capoeira Master, 1st level, by the Paulista Capoeira Federation in 1988 and that of Capoeira Master by the Brasilian Capoeira Confederation in 1992. He recorded for the French label Musique du Monde two CD's of capoeira music, the first of which was awarded the Diapason d'or.

Capoeira Palmares Paris Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris

China Russo de Caxias

Jonas Rabelo was born on September 22, 1956. He first trained capoeira in 1968 in Duque de Caxias, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, with Idelfonso Ribeiro dos Santos «Crioulo». From 1972 to 1975, he was a student of mestre Barbosa in a gym named «Lider» in Duque de Caxias. In 1973, Russo and a few fellows decided to have a roda in the street every Sunday on a square in Duque de Caxias town center. This initiative caused disagreements with mestre Barbosa, an adept of capoeira as modern sport, adherent to its federative system, who disaproved of capoeira practice outside sport halls, more so with no uniforms or belts, which, according to his judgment, were too much of a remembrance of capoeira’s past image as a vagrant’s pastime. Quite the reverse for Russo and his friends who felt concern about keeping capoeira alive in the underpriviledged crowds in which it had risen. Russo abandoned capoeira as sport in 1975. Though a number of his fellows, around Pedro Trindade Moraes (mestre Moraes, who created GCAP) decided to identify themselves with the Capoeira Angola current, Russo prefered to disclaim this tag. In the Roda Livre de Caxias (Caxias Free Ring), anyone may play, so long as one respects the place and the people. To maintain the integrity of the game was always the ideal of the organizers – an ambition which was quite difficult to sustain in several occasions.

The Caxias roda livre has turned one of the great references for capoeiristas. It has been going on since with only an interruption in the 1990s.

In the Free Ring everyone keeps its own personality and style. What we apreciate at first sight in Russo is his ginga.

Voir :

Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris

China China

"Chinaxé"

Milton Raimundo de Jesus was born in the island of Itaparica (Bahia), on september 22, 1968. Still a child, he followed his parents to Santos (São Paulo). His first capoeira practice was in the street, unable that he was to pay for lessons. Later he registered in master Sombra's Senzala academy, trained a lot, and developed so his natural abilities, that he got famous as China, the acrobat.

"Because of a certain easiness that God bestows on us, a gift, I liked acrobatics; and people always take up the obvious, always some part of your body, of your life, marks, so let's say that what marked most was the acrobatics. I was not acknowledged as a capoeirista, though I linked everything to capoeira, I did it in the game.".

In march 1994, China went to Barcelona, where there was already a core group from the Senzala academy of Santos, though without a regular teacher. There he funded the Raizes de Senzala (Roots of Senzala) association. After a few years, he decided to dedicate himself to the study and the teaching of capoeira Angola, to which norms he still belongs today.

"I met capoeira Angola there in master Sombra's academy, at the time that the master set out to show the basic moves, to play videos too, so from that point I began to get involved, and he started lessons specific to capoeira Angola, that was fifteen years ago. I have been in Spain for eight years, and that gave me the opportunity to go to Bahia and know really capoeira de Angola, that of the baianos. That allowed me to meet that culture. So, initially it was in master Sombra's Senzala academy, the way it was and still is today". -- China, may 19, 2002.

Capoeira Palmares Paris Journal
Capoeira Palmares de Paris


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Lucia Palmares & Pol Briand
3, rue de la Palestine 75019 Paris
Tel. : (33) 1 4239 6436
Email : polbrian@capoeira-palmares.fr

Association de Capoeira Palmares de Paris