Mestre Moraes

moraes

Now, as we have heard a lot about the old mestres, both dead and alive ones. After these I want to focus on some masters of the younger generations. When Mestre Pastinha, the Velha Guarda and the Joao’s were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s survival, then the younger mestres (and many more) were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s worldwide success since the 1980′s. One of the first names I have to mention here is Mestre Moraes.

The person

Mestre Moraes was born as Pedro Martinez Trindade in Ilha de Maré on the 9th of February, 1950. His father, who is nowadays blind, was a Capoeirista himself and did introduce him to Capoeira at the age of 7. He started to learn Capoeira Angola in Mestre Pastinha’s academy, but back then Mestre Pastinha was already getting blind and his students, Mestre Joao Grande and Mestre Joao Pequeno, were running the school. In 1970 he joined the marines and was sent to Rio de Janeiro. There he started training some students which are nowadays known as masters, like Mestre Braga and Mestre Cobra Mansa. In 1980 he founded the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, one of today’s most known Capoeira Angola groups. When he came back to Salvador in 1982, he did notice that Capoeira Angola was almost extinct, the old mestres losing ground against the new elite of modern Capoeiristas. So he started organising rodas and trainings and did fight for the recognition of Capoeira Angola as the traditional art form underlying Capoeira. In the mid-80′s he and his Contra-Mestre Cobra Mansa were able to convice Mestre Joao Grande to get back to Capoeira Angola, with which they managed to bring back some heavy history into Capoeira. Today, GCAP does still exist and is one of the most traditional schhols of Capoeira Angola. Mestre Moraes himself did study English and does work as a teacher of English and Portuguese at a public school – alongside him being the Mestre of GCAP of course.

Embranquecimento

moraesde25

Everybody who knows a bit about the modern history of Capoeira Angola knows that Mestre Moraes did have a major in the resurrection of Capoeira Angola in the 1980′s. But, most people consider the person Mestre Moraes as being a bit difficult at best, outright annoying and racist at worst. Now how did this happen? First of all, Mestre Moraes is a guy who doesnt shut up when others would. He also does talk out when nobody wants him to. For him, this is his way to express what he considers to be important for Capoeira. That it doesnt get ripped of its African roots, that it doesnt turn into a sport practised by anyone without recognizing the blood and sweat people went through because they practised African rituals on Brazilian soil. One of the main points of his critics is that since Mestre Bimba’s introduction of “Capoeira Regional” Capoeira did undergo several changes in its perception and philosophy. As it got accepted in Brazilian society and also promoted as “the only true Brazilian national sport”, people started to introduce all kinds of novelties into Capoeira. I will name only a few: a cord system, Capoeira competitions and the reglementation of Capoeira in the National Boxing Federation. Today one word does express these changes: “whitening” of capoeira, or the Portuguese word “embranquecimento”. But the worst thing was not what they did introduce, but what was being neglected and oppressed in those times. That was the traditional Capoeira, the old mestres, the street rodas and the Afrobrazilian rituals in Capoeira Angola. Besides being neglected, during the times of the dictatorship, traditional street rodas were disrupted by the police. Everything which wasnt suiting the state’s policy was oppressed. Dictatorship went on in Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Thus, exactly the time when Capoeira Regional grew in extremo and Capoeira Angola shrinked to almost extinction.

African Movements

By the end of the dictatorship Mestre Moraes arrived in Salvador and saw everything being on the downslope. Now I dont know him personally and in those times when he was struggling with “the establishment” I was just being born. But I doubt that Capoeira Angola today would have been so strong if Mestre Moraes would just have sit back and opened up a small Capoeira Angola school in the Pelourinho neighborhood. His radical commitment to Afrobrazilian culture and the African values of traditional Capoeira was possibly the only response to the mainstream back then, which had a chance to survive. More than this. Capoeira Angola itself was so small back then that it was hardly possible to have its voice being noticed. This is the reason why the Angoleiros around Mestre Moraes established connections to Black Power movements like Ilê Aiyê and Olodum. Since then the connections between GCAP and black movements is pretty strong and pretty much stays like that. Surely, there are legitimate Capoeira Angola groups which are less radical in advocating African traditions in Capoeira Angola, but GCAP does have a strong influence in the whole Capoeira Angola scene – and is not only a legitimate, but also an important part of it. And Mestre Moraes, with all his radicality, is and stays one of the most important Mestres of Capoeira Angola.

And as it is with a lot of mestres, there is much more to tell about Mestre Moraes than his strong opinion about Embranquimento and Africanidade. He is, by the way, known for his excellent music. His first CD is a must in every Capoeiristas CD collection and his CD “brincando na roda” was nominated for the Grammy Award in 2004. In the field of music he did also codify the musical outfit of a Capoeira Angola bateria.

Other than that he is also known for his elaborate philosophy derived out of African spirituality. If you want an example of his philosopy just check the interview translated by Shayna McHugh on her Capoeira Connection site. Plus he is of course a very good player of Capoeira Angola and is known for his dominance in the Roda. And to finish this post, you can watch him play yourself, on the video below.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Mestre Moraes

  1. xixarro

    Thanks for continuing this set of articles!
    I love them all! :-D

  2. You are welcome. And now it’s becoming even more interesting, because till now most names were known to everybody, some Angola mestres do deserve to be known to a wider Capoeira community, so I’ll continue this series for a while – always having one non-related post in between so it doesnt become too monotonous, of course.

  3. xixarro

    I can still think of a few names, but that’s a but it.
    I’m curious to find out
    1) if they’ll be in your overview (probably yes otherwise how could I know their names?)
    2) who they are and what they’ve done

  4. With all of the myths, misunderstandings and outright lies that exist to this day about Capoeira Angola and capoeira in general, it is essential that strong personalities, warriors and organizations such as Mestre Moraes and GCAP continue to set the record straight with both word and deed.

    Mestre Moraes’ manner can be difficult for some to take at times, but strong medicine doesn’t always taste good, and he is less diplomat and politician and more truth teller.

    In my contacts and dealings with Mestre Moraes over the last six years, I have found that he is not a racist. I tend to believe that many assert that he is racist for lack of an intelligent response to his forthright manner in combating white supremacy in Brasilian society in general and capoeira in particular. Act an ass, maybe. Racist, no.

    Looking forward to highlights of more mestres.

  5. Methi

    A testimony to Mestre Moraes’ work is the great number of mestres that have developed under his guidance. Each and everyone of them is recognized for their skills as Capoeiristas as well as their contributions to Capoeira. Being in the presence of Mestre Moraes or any of his Mestres is inspiring.

  6. Hi everybody, first of all thanks for all your comments! I thought that I would be hitting on a highly controversial personality when I start writing about Mestre Moraes, but obviously most readers either didnt know much about him, or do agree with my conclusion that Mestre Moraes, as much as he is a radical protagonist of the Capoeira Angola movement, is also a very important one.

    Xixarro, I hope I’ll be able to cover most of the mestres you are thinking about. Although I have i admit that I certainly have to make a cutoff somewhere and no matter which mestre I wont mention, it will be unjust.

    Hi Uncle James, thanks for your comment. It is a sad fact that those who accuse Mestre Moraes for being a racist where mostly those who didnt have much to do with him. I dont know him personally but there is more than one person who told me the same as you did. Thanks for it again.

    Hi Methi, you are right. The number of mestres he did develop is impressive, but more impressive than the sheer numbers is the quality those mestres do expose. they are not just some cookie-cutter mestres, but real Mestres!

  7. xixarro

    Argh, I just heard that our group in Brasil had their batizado in december (that I knew) and had mestre Moraes as a special guest. He gave a workshop as well.

    Aiaiaiai, why didn’t I kow that?
    Or maybe it was good that I didn’t know it, how was I gonna pay for the trip? ;-)

  8. You are right xixarro, sometimes it’s better not to know what we are missing here in Europe. Otherwise we would be complaining all time that we dont have the money to make the trip over! :)
    But at least you people get Mestre Joao Grande over, no? and that IS interesting!

  9. Kumiko

    … i dont know what to make of him…

  10. hi kumiko, what do you mean with your comment?

  11. Daniel de Ouro

    referring to: “Hi Methi, you are right. The number of mestres he did develop is impressive, but more impressive than the sheer numbers is the quality those mestres do expose. they are not just some cookie-cutter mestres, but real Mestres!”

    Absolutely True! My mestre, teacher and friend Mestre Rogerio (“Rogerio Rasta”) is a very important protagonist in the history of Capoeira Angola in Europe. he was one of the first who brought Capoeira Angola to Western-Central Europe together with his childhood-copagnion Mestre Cobra Mansa (“Cobrinha”) and long-time friend Mestre Sapo around 1990. And he was definitely the first Mestre who established Capoeira Angola in germany… with more than 6 group-bases here, 2 in Brasil, 2 in Italy and 1 in Ireland! So in more than 10 places you can find now his group: ACAD – Associacao de Capoeira Angola Dobrada.
    Maybe, one day, you’ll add an article about him!?
    If you will, please don’t hesitate to ask me for information… or visit:

    capoeira-angola.net

    rasteira, cabecada
    D

  12. Neide

    Olá!
    Tem tanto tempo que não vejo nem ouço capoeira que este site matou a saudade que eu tenho. Gostaria apenas que houvessem sites em português para os brasileiros, pois a capoeira é tipicamente brasileira, certo ou errado?. Moraes aqui é um discípolo seu que gostaria de saber sempre informações a respeito do GCAP e de toda as atividades que serão realizadas. Há! e como estou fazendo Lic. em História gostaria de poder contar com o senhor, já que fui sua aluna lá em 1990 à 2000. Mande-me seu e-mail para que possa lhe solicitar alguns materiais.

    iêeêêê. Axé.

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