O menino quem foi seu Mestre?

Mestre Pastinha

Menino, quem foi seu mestre ?
Quem te ensinou a brincar
O teu mestre foi Besouro
Aprendeu com Manganga

Eu aprendi com Pastinha
Quero contigo Brincar
A capoeira de angola
A africano quem mandou

Na capital de Salvador
Foi pastinha que me ensinou
Na roda de capoeira
Reconheço esse valor

(M.Joao Pequeno)

At the 13th November 1981 Vincente Ferreira Pastinha, known to the world as Mestre Pastinha, died at the age of 92. Today that is 27 years ago. The only reason why I write this post is to remind everybody of one of the biggest and most important Mestres of Capoeira. I wont go into the details of his life. When he was born, who did teach him capoeira, why, and when he started to teach Capoeira. There is enough sources for that, and everybody who is interested will find the information. Important is what Mestre Pastinha stands for.

Mestre Pastinha stands for the tradition of Capoeira Angola. He is the Mestre of Capoeira Angola. He was not the only one around and not all Angoleiros are from his lineage. But he did do for Capoeira Angola what Mestre Bimba did for the recognition of Capoeira. Both Mestres were not the sole reason for the re-collection of traditions (Pastinha) or for the social integration (Bimba) of Capoeira. But both of them gave these specific processes a face. A name and a point of reference.

What Mestre Pastinha did was keeping up and teaching the traditional Bahian capoeira in a time when Capoeira Angola started to vanish from the streets. Other Mestres of Capoeira did give him the duty and the responsibility to keep up the traditions. And although he was of higher age already, he did start teaching people, building up students who would pass on Capoeira Angola. Without Mestre Pastinha, there wouldnt have been a Mestre Joao Grande, a Mestre Joao Pequeno, a Mestre Moraes, a Mestre Cobrinha, a Mestre Jogo de Dentro… all the people and their organizations which make Capoeira Angola the smaller but definitely not less important part of today’s Capoeira. Not only today’s Capoeira Angola Community, but also the general Capoeira world would have been totally different – and I think far less attractive – if he wouldnt have done his job.  Would there be another one who would have taken the responsibility? No one knows for sure. But what we know is that he did it. And he did it in the best way possible. Concentrating on everything what Capoeira was losing in a time when Capoeira was getting more popular among Brazilian society, but only if it was stripped of it’s Mandinga, Brincadeira, rituals, spirituality, individuality and – to sum it up – it’s soul. He did resist all these temptations and died miserably.

It’s sad that his role in keeping traditional Capoeira alive was only fully comprehended when he was already dead, but that’s often with big personalities in history. We can’t change history, but we can keep his work up. I dont expect it from everybody, just somebody has to do it. And those who are mostly (but not solely) responsible for this are the Mestres, especially the ones who dedicate themselves to Capoeira Angola.

This is the reason why in future I will also post more about specific Mestres of Capoeira Angola, and their achievements and ways to keep up the heritage of Mestre Pastinha. And with this I will finish now and hope that I did a small contribution to the memory of Mestre Pastinha.




Filed under Mestres

7 responses to “O menino quem foi seu Mestre?

  1. jason

    Bravo for your recognition Mestre Pastinha.
    While he was the great innovator of Angola in the Academy setting, it may be a bit bold to say he was THE great Angoleiro. Again, I don’t mean to take anything away from what you’ve said.
    There were other Great Angoleiros, but none taught in the formal setting of the academy. It was taught from 1 to 1, in traditional apprenticeship.
    It is also an important distinction to make that he preserved Capoeira Angola not only as a Bahian tradition, but as an African tradition. After all, he learned from Mestre Benedito who was an Angolan and most likely was imparting the art as he learned it from it’s African wellspring.
    Mestre Pastinha was recognized as the great Capoeirista of the time from his contemporaries after his demonstration of his knowledge and wisdom, which would subsequently put him in a position to open his academy.
    He taught my mestre, who has shown me the most vital things I know of Capoeira, along with the other figures–chiefly Mestre Moraes–who have shown the next generation of teachers the art.
    The important difference between Mestre Pastinha and the other great Capoeiristas of the day (Mestre Cobrinha Verde, Mestre Waldemar…) is that he had a place to teach and set precedence for how Angola is taught to a class of students willing to learn. He standardized the instrumentation of the bateria to what it is today. In very few circumstances he gave diplomas of “Mestre,” which established the hierarchy of teaching we have today.
    Though Angola doesn’t look the same as it used to, it is still the fundamental entity it was: A rite of passage; A tool of resistance to condition the mind and body against the difficulty of the physical and spiritual world.
    Though he died humbly, his wife said he was not unhappy–that he was content with his legacy. The lessons of Capoeira Angola were as invaluable to him then as ever.
    In our awareness, he was the most important Angoleiro ever. But his character as a renaissance man (teacher, artist, poet…) enabled him to focus the philosophy of the “dance of the nago.”
    A sweet and beautiful man. We should all be so graceful…

  2. Beautiful post, Angoleiro. Again, just wanted to say I am really, really, really glad you decided to start this blog. =) I’ve learned so incredibly much from it, almost as if it were another sport altogether. And now I can’t even imagine what it’d be like knowing next to NOTHING about a whole 50% of an art/sport I say I do!

  3. xixarro

    I’m looking foreward to your series on other angola mestres. can’t say I know much of them at the moment.

    Rest in peace Seu Pastinha

  4. Hey all, thanks for your comments on this post. My Pastinha day did pass by with work till now (and that will go on for the next 2 hours), but at least tonight I’ll play around a bit!

    @Jason: great contribution. of course there were other mestres and their names are also important in the history of Capoeira and I guess I will also come back to them and will also focus on their contribution for Capoeira. With this post I didnt want to ignore their contributions. But hey, Mestre Pastinha is in fact Capoeira Angola’s face and the Mestre of this art form whose lineage is strongest nowadays. And this all thanks to his efforts and genius.

    @Joaninha: thanks, what you did write was very nice to read. It’s great to hear that somebody did learn something out of my posts and it’s really really great to hear somebody who is not Angoleiro appreciate Capoeira Angola and its contribution (you are not the first one appreciating, but I kind of cant gt enough of that 😉 )

    @Xixarro: you are very right. Capoeira Angola mestres are usually not very known to the Capoeira Community, although there are a lot who have contributed much to what Capoeira Angola is today. I will not be able to name every single one of them and give them the respect they deserve, but I’ll do my best.

  5. Soldado

    I go to the gym to strengthen my body, the capoeira academy to refine movements and your blog to strengthen my capoeira mind. Thanks once again.

  6. Hey, you are welcome, buddy! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Os Velhos Angoleiros « Angoleiro’s Blog

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