Os Velhos Angoleiros


This is the second post in the “Mestre de Capoeira Angola” series on the Angoleiro Blog. While in the first post I concentrated on Mestre Pastinha for the reason that he is the most influential person of modern Capoeira Angola, I did not name all the other Mestres who were his contemporaries and who are also important for the development of Capoeira Angola in the 20th century. I will only give an overview of some of the most known and important mestres. Beforehand I also will have to say that there are a lot of Mestres out there which I will not mention although they deserve better. This is not because I disregard them intentionally, but because a) I dont know much about them b) I dont know nothing about them or c) that I forgot about them. So if one of you readers do see that I am missing out on some interesting/important old Mestre of Capoeira Angola (who was not Mestre Pastinha’s student or contemporary), please tell me – and maybe add some information about that mestre yourself, thus completing this post.

As I mentioned before Mestre Pastinha was not the only Mestre out there. He was one amongst many. Still, he was elected by other Mestres to save Capoeira Angola. This is the reason why most people do only know his name when they think of old Mestres of Capoeira Angola. With this post I’d like to introduce you to some of the other important names of Capoeira Angola.

Mestre Aberrê

Raimundo Agolo aka Mestre Aberrê is one of those Mestres most people dont know at all. He was actually Mestre Pastinhas student in those years, when Mestre Pastinha was not having an Academy. Mestre Aberrê was the mestre of Mestre Canjiquinha, who is another important personality of Capoeira Angola. But his achievement was more than this. Mestre Aberrê was the one who did invite Mestre Pastinha in 1941, when people needed a mestre to re-establish the traditional Capoeira, to teach Capoeira Angola.

Mestre Bimba


Manuel dos Reis Machado (1899-1974) aka Mestre Bimba is another important Mestre of Capoeira Angola. Now some people might be pretty surprised to see Mestre Bimba on this list.  I will dedicate a post to him another time, but I didnt want this list to be lacking him. Because although he might have changed so many things about traditional Capoeira that still many Angoleiros are opinionated about him, his mastery of Capoeira Angola is not questioned. And also his importance for Capoeira in general.

Mestre Caicara


Antonio Carlos Moraes (1924-1997) aka Mestre Caicara was a mestre representing the connection of Capoeira to the streets and to the criminal elements on them. In his time he was a leading figure in the street scene of the Pelourinho. He knew it all about the criminals, the gangs and the prostitutes of the streets there and he was the one to ask if you wanted to get around. But he was not only a central figure in the street politics of his neighborhood, he was also a Capoeira master with a hard and efficient style (quite different from the softer style of Mestre Pastinha) and he was a great singer whose CD is still recommended as a must-buy for every Capoeira CD collection (I myself dont have that CD, but I think I’ll try to get my greedy hands on it).

Mestre Canjiquinha


Washington Bruno da Silva aka Mestre Canjiquinha (1925-1994) was a very important personality in Capoeira Angola. He liked to describe himself as “the Joy of Capoeira” and was known for his tolerance, his good humor and his demonstration skills. He was also one of the few Mestres who did deny that there was a difference between Capoeira Angola and Regional (for him it was just a matter of rhythm). In his demonstrations he did not only show Capoeira, but also other Afrobrazilian dances including the Maculele. He said that he was the first one to introduce Maculele into Capoeira shows. Besides that he was also acting in different Brazilian movies displaying Capoeira and he also left a number of highly skilled mestres (not every mestre did that) like Mestre Paulo dos Anjos, Mestre Brasília and Mestre Lua Rasta. If you want to read more of (and by) him, download his book translated by Shayna McHugh on her site Capoeira Connection.

Mestre Cobrinha Verde


Rafael Alves Franca (ca.1910-1983) aka Mestre Cobrinha Verde grew up with Capoeira on the streets, played with thugs. He says that he was the cousin of Besouro Manganga himself and that Besouro was his first Mestre. Cobrinha Verdes roda was one of the most respected rodas alongside those of M Bimba, M Pastinha and M Waldemar. You can find more information of and by him in his book Capoeira e Mandingas, which you can also find on the Capoeira Connection site.

Mestre Leopolodina


Mestre Leopoldina (1933-2007) is one of the most popular Mestres who represented the “old guard” of Mestres when most of them had already died. Now he is dead himself, but does stay in the memories of both Angoleiros and Regionalistas as a good humored old master, representing the old style of Capoeira Carioca and the malicia and malandragem of traditional Capoeira. There is plenty of footage considering him, but the most recommendable thing to do is to check out the movie about him. “Mestre Leopoldina – a fina flor da malandragem“, a smart and interesting portrait of the old mestre and his life in Rio and in Capoeira.

Mestre Traira


Joao Ramos do Nascimento (1925-1975) aka Mestre Traira is one of those mestres you hear least of. He does have a part in the movie Vadiacao (1954) and did record Capoeira rhythms together with Mestre Cobrinha Verde. Other than that he is known to have had an agile, fast game, which was “only comparable to Mestre Pastinha’s” as Jorge Amado describes. Although it is said that he didnt leave any pupils or followers there is at least one Mestre who did start Capoeira Angola with him (Mestre Barba Branca from Grupo Capoeira Angola Cabula).

Mestre Waldemar

Mestre Waldemar

Waldemar Rodrigues da Paixâo (1916-1990) aka Mestre Waldemar was especially known for his Roda. The Roda at Mestre Waldemar’s hut was one of the few legendary rodas in Salvador and the place to be on Sundays to see the old mestres play. The roda was known for its diversity of games displayed, from the slowest ones to the hardest games. His Roda was also point of reference for many artists and intellectuals who were trying to underline the importance of African influence on (Afro-)Brazilian culture. One of these was Carybé who did make his paintings inspired by the scenes he saw at Mestre Waldemar’s roda. Other than that Mestre Waldemar was also known for his Berimbaus and does claim to be the first one who started to paint his Berimbaus (a common practise among Angoleiros today). Later he started suffering under Parkinson’s disease and stopped playing Capoeira. He is not known to have left any students (edit: I seem to be wrong with this last sentence, as you see in the comments, Mestre Waldemar did leave students. I just seem to not have found them mentioned…My apologies to his students).


As you people see, most of the mestres I mentioned died in and around the 90’s or at least in the last decades of the 20th century. They represent a generation of Angoleiros most of us dont know at all, both Regionalistas and Angoleiros. As the concept of lineage is very important among Angoleiros it is still good to know about them, cause most if not all of today’s mestres of Capoeira do trace back their Capoeira to one of these Mestres (ok, a majority do trace back their Capoeira to Mestre Pastinha, what a surprise!). But there are other old mestres of Capoeira Angola still alive today, and those will be the topic of my next post in the series about Mestres of Capoeira Angola.

Note on pictures: most pictures of the mestres are commonly available pictures you can get anywhere on the web. My favourite picture of this post is the very first one showing several of the old angoleiros in salvador of the year 1982. From left to right those are: Mestre Joao Grande, the son of Cobrinha Verde, Mestre Joao Pequeno, Mestre Cobrinha Verde, Mestre Canjiquinha and Mestre Waldemar. The picture can be found on the site http://www.suldabahiaperu.com/ .


Filed under Mestres

7 responses to “Os Velhos Angoleiros

  1. Pintado

    Hi! You say Mestre Waldemar isn’t known to have left any students. My group’s lineage goes back to Mestre Waldemar (but also partly Mestre Caiçara).

    You can visit my group’s website and view our lineage tree (is that what it’s called in English?) here:

    But of course…it’s in Norwegian… hehe..

    Here’s the part about Zé de Freitas in English:

    (Born 29.04.1932)
    Born in the town of Alagoinhas, Brasil. He trained in Salvador with Mestre Caiçara, but later on he started training with Mestre Waldemar, where he eventually became a Contra-Mestre. At the end of the 50s he left for São Paulo to start teaching in an academy of his own (Academia de luta no bairro de Brás). He is one of the pioneers who started to teach capoeira in São Paulo. Later on he moved his academy to Santo André. Today he lives in Natal.

  2. Hi Pintado, thanks for your piece of knowledge. I have to apologize and obviously your mestre does trace back his lineage to Mestre Waldemar.

    And although I have no knowledge of Norwegian, my Dutch and German knowledge does help me understand it 🙂

    Thanks again for your contribution!

  3. jason

    Anyone who wants to hear real capoeira angola music will buy Mestre Traira’s cd. Mestre Waldemar made a cd with Mestre Canjinquinha, but the corro is made up of regional mestres and to listen to it, you can tell they do not have the same background. His half of the cd is totally necessary. These 2 discs are among the best documents of the art, along with the fine work of Mestre Moraes, Mestre Joao Grande and some other schools (most notably, Mestre Jogo de Dentro and Mestre Roberval.)
    The role of many mestres in the art has been debated.
    People frequently talk bad or elevate “Mestres” that they themselves have no knowledge of. Likewise, Mestres who become recognized as legitimate then get their names misused by people who are looking to legitimize their own lineage.
    Please, have respect for the culture and it’s African root and leaf and know your teacher and their origin. This is not an art that can be learned through the internet or from makeshift teachers. This is ancient African tradition that requires discipline and an open mind and heart.
    If you feel that a “true” mestre is not accessible to you because of where you are, do what you can do, but know this puts you at a disadvantage and that what you may be developing could be incorrect. You may be a capoeira “player” rather than a capoeirista, much less an angoleiro.
    There are only very few places that you can get the real deal with this art.
    That is how it has always been, and that is the nature of African teaching.
    In honor of the great mestres, put their work before your own desire to distinguish yourself with the game.
    The spirits of ancestors don’t show up unless the music and the game is done right, and when people play it is easy to tell who has strong roots.

  4. Hi Jason, thanks for your comment. actually I was planning a post about the importance of mestres and of lineage in capoeira angola. with this comment you did hit on some of the main concepts of these. lineage in capoeira angola is of highest importance. more than the names of the schools the name of your master is important and everywhere you go that’s one of the first questions you’ll have to respond to. and one thing is important to know: most mestres do know each other in capoeira angola. the number of angola mestres is low, so fraud in terms of “my mestre is mestre so-and-so” is a dangerous path…
    in terms of the preference of having a mestre as teacher. well, most people prefer that, but especially in europe, but also in north america the number of capoeira angola mestres is low. so you gotta see and learn what you can learn, and hope to be as much of an angoleiro as you can get.


  5. Fura Bolo

    Parabéns pelo blog, já coloquei no favoritos para sempre ler.

    Não me preocupei em colocar meu comentário em inglês pois o capoeira precisa ter, no mínimo, um pouco de contato com a nossa lingua ^^

    Gostei particularmente do mestre Bimba na lista já que o mesmo praticou a capoeira angola por 12 anos pelo o que li.


  6. Mandume

    Not just that we also,have to thanks all the brothers that were brought from Angola Africa.Witch is the Bantus from Angola Capoeira e coisa de Angola praticada nos anos 1200 1300 1400 Capoeira e longa vida

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