Tag Archives: Mestre Joao Grande

6th Anniversary of the Capoeira Angola Center of the Netherlands

Hello people,

Capoeira Angola might not be big in the Capoeira scene of Holland, but thanks to a few people it is well represented and continues to serve the art and the community! To celebrate the 6th Anniversary of the Capoeira Angola center in Amsterdam, led by Totti Angola (senior student of mestre Joao Grande), everybody is invited to Amsterdam on the 5th of July, 2009. Everything else you can read on the flyer posted below:

6th Anniversary

Be there or be square (and thus, not a Roda ūüėČ )

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Mestre Cobra Mansa

cobra

The masters series of this Blog isnt finished yet, although I dont know if I will ever be able to mention all masters who deserve being mentioned. This time I decided to write about one of the most famous Mestres of Capoeira Angola. Mestre Cobra Mansa is known both to Angoleiros and Regionalistas. He is known for his marvelous¬†game and his passionate commitment to the artform. A friend of mine did once call him something like a “popstar” of Capoeira Angola. This is true in terms of him being a living legend and him being known beyond any borders of Capoeira. It is in so far not true as popstars today are more known to be adored more than they actually deserve. With Mestre Cobra Mansa it’s different. But let’s have a look at who this mestre is:

Cinézio Feliciano Peçanha

Mestre Cobra Mansa was born Cin√©zio Feliciano Pe√ßanha in rio de Janeiro in 1960. He grew up in Duque de Caxias, which¬†is a city close to Rio de Janeiro. As a kid he did earn some money as a street vendor, performing for the audience and doing acrobatic tricks for them. He started Capoeira in 1973 with a Mestre Josais da Silva (which I have not much heard of other that he has a school named after him (Associa√ß√£o de Capoeira Josias da Silva) but shortly after that he started to be a student of Mestre Moraes (I have two dates given for this, 1974 and 1976). Under his guidance he stayed till the early 90’s where out of “philosophical differences” they parted ways. During his time with mestre Moraes they both founded the Grupo Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) and moved to Salvador da Bahia where they managed to convince Mestre Joao Grande to teach classes again. Prior to that he was also spending some time as photographer and as policeman.

FICA

FICAIn the 90’s mestre Cobra Mansa came to the US and founded the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF in English, FICA in Portuguese) in the year 1995 together with Mestre Valmir and Mestre Jurandir. FICA is now one of the most famous representatives of Capoeira Angola in the world, having opened up school worldwide. Especially in the US, but also in Mozambique, Russia, France, Hawaii, Costa Rica and, of course, Bahia amongst others. The size of this organization has¬†led to some critics as far as I have heard. I couldnt get much information out of them, but it looks as if people are afraid of a monopolization of the Capoeira Angola in similar ways as it happened in Capoeira Regional, where Senzala, ABADA and Co. dominate the “market”. there is little one can argue against that kind of fear, but one can surely say that FICA doesnt see itself as unique or special. As far as I have had the pleasure to meet people from FICA they seemed not to be discriminating between them and “other” angoleiros and I have not heard of one occasion where it was different. So for me there is no reason to doubt on FICA’s positive¬†impact on Capoeira Angola.

Busy Mestre…

There is actually two reasons why I think that mestre Cobra Mansa is one of the bigger mestres on the Angola scene. First, there is his style of playing, and second, there is his projects. Mestre Cobra Mansa seems to have no private life at all as he is constantly busy with building up stuff. And, interestingly, he is also moving on with the projects. So when one project is on its feet, he leaves it in trusted hands and starts another project. At least that’s what I think happens. I will shortly introduce three projects he has/had been going on besides building up GCAP and FICA.

a) Roda de Caxias: not many people know the Roda of Caxias, at least not many people in Europe know of it. I wont go into detail, but what you should know is that the Roda de Caxias is one of the most enduring Rodas in Rio, which survived repression during the time of the Brazilian dictatorship. There are many Mestres present in this Roda and Mestre Conra Mansa is mentioned as¬†a co-founder of it. The mestre you should be looking for for this Roda is Mestre Russo, though. Here you can find more information (it’s a movie: O zelador, go get it, I watched it 4 times!)

b) Projecto Axé: well, Mestre Cobra Mansa is, as far as I see it, not a founder of the Projecto Axé, but works together with this movement to help hundreds of kids which are otherwise threatened by poverty and crime. The projecto Axé is part of the Black Movement in Brasil and tries to help on many different levels. Here is a site you can look that up.

c) Kilombo Tenonde: the Kilombo Tenonde project is the newest on Mestre Cobra Mansa’s list. Basically it consists of two components. One being a cultural center near Salvador, which is providing “communal and educational services” and the other being a farm near Valen√ßa, which is also serving as a platform for workshops, but also tries to sustain itself with organic farming and principles os sustainability. Here is the link for the website of Kilombo Tenonde.

…in the Roda

And last but not least one can start talking about him as a person in the Roda. His name, Cobra Mansa, can be translated as “tame snake”. This name was given him on basis of his agility and his cheerfulness while playing Capoeira “lauging all the time”. And he has kept this cheerfulness till today. What is amazing about him is that despite his cheerfulness in game he is not a softy when it comes to playing in the Roda. And he is no brute either. His playing style intermixes grace with malicia and fluidity with efficiency. I will leave it like that. If you wanna see more of him you just have to check youtube, where you find a lot of games of him.

Picture source: http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/11/

More information:

Wikipedia

FICA-DC Blog

FICA DC

Kilombo Tenonde

Projeto Axé

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O Gavi√£o √© o Cobra Mansa

joaos

Picture source: www.aquelequeenxergalonge.blogspot.com

Eu tenho dois irm√£os
Todos dois, chama Jo√£o
Um joga pelo ar
Outro joga pelo ch√£o
Se um é cobra mansa
Sei que o outro é gavião, camaradinho

This is the third post in the series about Masters of Capoeira Angola. In the last two ones I did mainly write about Masters who already passed away, but are still important for Capoeira Angola as it is today. There are a lot of Mestres living today who also have had a great impact on Capoeira Angola. And now to the two Mestres I am gonna post about today.

Mestre Joao Grande (born 15th of January 1933)¬†and Mestre Joao Pequeno (born¬†on the 27th of December 1917, so¬†Happy Birthday by the way)¬†are two Mestres¬†of who you can say that¬†a majority of today’s Angoleiros trace back their heritage to one of these. Both were students and afterwards contra-mestres of Mestre¬†Pastinha and Mestre¬†Pastinha himself said that they will be the great Capoeiristas of the future.¬†¬†Today both¬†Angoleiros are of high ages, but still active in terms of teaching and playing in the Roda.

Today these two Mestres are something like idols. They get invited regularly to Capoeira happenings all of the world and get doctorate titles from different universities. And really, every Angoleiro wants to meet one or both of these Mestres, if there is a possibility to do so.

Mestre Joao Pequeno

Mestre Joao Pequeno was born as Joao Pereira dos Santos in Araci, Bahia, on the 27th December 1917. As a young man he fled from the poor area he grew up in and started working in different trades. During his freetime he learned Capoeira from different friends, until he moved to Salvador da Bahia with 25. Here he met Mestre Barbosa and learned Capoeira with him until he joined Mestre Pastinha’s Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola. Soon afterwards Joao Pequeno did teach under the supervision of his Mestre and did take over lessons by 1960 when Mestre Pastinha was not longer able to. In Mestre Pastinha’s school he also got the name Cobra Mansa, and Joao Pequeno. Here he did teach a lot of different Mestres who are all still legends of Capoeira Angola, like Mestre Curio, Mestre Moraes and also Mestre Joao Grande. Other Mestres who trace their lineage directly back to him are Mestre Jogo de Dentro, Barba Branca and Mestre P√© de Cumbo. In 1982, when Mestre Pastinha died, Mestre Joao Pequeno continued to teach and is still teaching in the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola (CECA) – Academia de Joao Pequeno da Pastinha.

Mestre Joao Grande

Mestre Joao Grande

¬†Joao Oliveira dos Santos aka Mestre Joao Grande was born in Itagi, Bahia at the 15th January, 1933. In the little village he was born in he spent his childhood on the farm and on plantations. When he became adolescent he started working as a migrant worker until he reached Salvador at the age of 20. The first street roda he saw was a Roda with the Mestres Barbosa, Joao Pequeno and Mestre Cobrinha Verde participating. He got excited, asked what this was, got told that it was Capoeira and was sent to Mestre Joao Pequeno to show him Capoeira. Mestre Joao Pequeno brought him to Mestre Pastinha’s Academy and taught him Capoeira. Being the student of Mestre Pastinha, Mestre Joao Pequeno and also learning with Mestres like Mestre Cobrinha Verde, Mestre Joao Grande (who was also named Gaviao) grew in Capoeira in became Mestre¬†by 1966. He was (and still is) a popular Capoeirista, who was used by Carybe for his studies on Capoeira, and who did go on folkloristic shows, travelling throughout the world, showing Capoeira, Macul√©le¬īand Puxada de Rede with the group “Viva Bahia”. When Mestre Pastinha died, Mestre Joao Grande did quit playing Capoeira and did earn a living with folkloristic dances and as musician. His students Mestre Moraes and Mestre Cobrinha did convice him to come back to Capoeira in the mid 80’s. In 1989 he was invited by jelon Viera on a tour to the U.S. The following year he did make another tour to the U.S. and stayed. Here he teaches in the Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre Joao Grande and from here he travels around the world, still trying to keep up the tradition of Capoeira Angola. The most important mestre Mestre Joao Grande did make is Mestre Moraes, who has a major influence in the Capoeira Angola world.

The informations I did post here about Cobra Mansa and o Gaviao are publicly available and as these two Mestres are so popular, you will find a lot more information. I still hope to be able to meet these Mestres, not only because I want to learn from them (there are a lot more Mestres I’d like to learn from), but because these men are living history! And at the end of this post I will again put one of my favourite Youtube videos, showing Mestre Joao Pequeno and Mestre Joao Grande back in 1968, when they were only 51 and 35 years old.

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A Chamada – the Game in the Game

The Call

Before I start telling you things about the Chamada I have to explain why I am doing it.

In the last few years I have seen many Capoeiristas, students learning Capoeira Regional, Contemporeana AND Angola, being quite surprised when the other one lifted his hands to the Chamada. Most of them usually did not know how to react. Some did not even know what was happening at all. Those where the ones who never saw a Capoeira Angola game at all. In Capoeira Angola, there is a subroutine, a game in the game itself, and that is called Chamada. I am able to explain aspects of it, but definitely not everything around it, because it is like trying to explain Capoeira. It is nothing for words, more something you have to see, or Рand this is the best Рto experience yourself! I tried to find some online material about the Chamada, and found either surface information, or throughout bad information. I already have written little things about the Chamada, but not really detailed. So I decided to write another post and make you comment and add information Рso that more people have at least an idea about the Chamada.

What is the Chamada?

Chamada can be translated as “The Call”. It is the situation when the Capoeira Angola game changes it¬īs pace and one of the players stands in a ritualistic stance, calling the other player to come to him and engage into a ritual-like dance. The Chamada is one of the least understood and least explained parts of a Capoeira Angola game. Yet, a Capoeira Angola Roda without a Chamada would miss a lot of its fascination.

Why do people do the Chamada?

There are about a zillion reasons, why you could start a Chamada. Usually it is one of these reasons:

  • You got tired and want to have a breath, the Chamada will give you a couple of seconds of rest, although (as I will explain later) rest does not mean that you can relax…
  • The players did not have a compatible game. Sometimes two players have difficulties getting along with each other and do entangle themselves in ugly little trouble. To calm down a situation like this, a Chamada comes in handy.
  • One player got hit. If unintentionally, the Chamada will help focus the concentration, if intentionally, the Chamada will help calming down the mood.
  • One player wants to test the abilities of the other. Usually a beginner or not-so-advanced player wont see and know all the subtleties of a Chamada. So the Chamada is also a good test, how good and advanced a player really is. There are a lot of youngsters out there who are able to do the fanciest movements or don’t have to be afraid of any opponent, but they get lost in a Chamada.

Are there rules about the Chamada?

Shortly said: there are no real rules about the Chamada. There are actually different ritualistic positions for the Chamada and it is good to know as much of them as possible. As there are many different positions it is good to try to remember every position – and the possible dangers of those. Generally, a Chamada is divided into the Intro, the Dance and the Leaving of the Chamada. All these are ruled by the one who “calls”. He calls the other player, who has to come, he does give the Dance its speed and rhythm, and he does say when the Chamada goes to an end and in which direction the game shall go on.

Oh, I forgot, there is one rule-of-thumb which is just very smart for the average player: do not call the mestre. As I said before, the Chamada is also some kind of test. Some Mestres do have issues with students calling them into the Chamada, and you don’t want to find out the hard way, do you?

The most important thing…

…is that the Chamada is still happening in the Roda. And in the Roda you have the general rule: be aware. Nobody says that the Chamada will end a peaceful way. There is always a possibility that a Tesoura is coming in the middle of the Chamada. And if you approach, be aware, that the knee, the elbow or the head of the caller are always very close. You come into close contact with the other person. You actually do touch the person for a longer time (which is not very common in an Angola game). So every step during the Chamada is dangerous and does call for a high level of attention by the player (so much about relaxing, as I said earlier in this post).

The approach

You are playing in the roda. Suddenly your partner does make a couple of steps away from you and lifts both hands, facing you, waiting. You have to approach. There is no rule how you should approach. It is mostly group-specific. Some groups do have the rule that the one who is called can show his acrobactic abilities for a while and then approach. Some teachers do attack you when you do not respond to their Chamada immediately. In most cases it seems to be ok to move on the ground, approaching slowly.

It is always important to be highly attentive when you approach. It is sometimes said that the approach and the leaving of the Chamada are the most dangerous situations. I disagree. As long as you are in close contact to the other player, engaging in the Chamada, attention and alertness are the things you have to rely on. And this is not only the fact for the approach and the leaving, it is also important between these two situations.

While you are coming closer and closer, do use your arms to defend yourself against upcoming knees, feet or downcoming elbows, until you are in a position when you are very close to him and are still quite save.

The Dance

Then the Dance begins. If you have the passive part, you follow your partner. Be alert, he might set up a trap. If he sees that you are alert, he might refrain from trapping you. You will feel the tension in yourself, and if your partner is good, he will seem not to be tensed at all!

Getting out

And the end of the Chamada, the person who called will show the Way. He will point to the direction in which the game should continue. You are not obliged to go that way, because it might be a trap, too. But most people still follow the game, of course being alert (again).

Which types of Chamadas are there?

When I think about it, I might know something like 6 or 7 types of Chamada. I know there are much more, but I think I know the most common ones. Describing them is impossible. I will just post links to different types of Chamadas. But while watching these videos, do mind that there are the little subtleties which are very important for the Chamada. When you go into the Chamada, you usually know and think about the exact position of your hands, your feet and your head – and the position of the same of your partner. Especially if you are the one who has been called AND if the one who called you is a Mestre!

Videos

The first video does show a teaching session, showing one of the classic Chamadas. Mind that the way this guy teaches this is not reaaaally the nicest. A Chamada has much more of a dancelike and ritualistic appearance than just five steps forward and back, and showing to the ground. The second video, which is displaying three Chamada situations,¬†is much nicer (at least for an Angoleiro ūüėČ ). It does show two other common types of Chamada (the one where the Caller turns his back to the called person and the one where the called person has to bow down and is in close proximity and in the ideal position for a knee hit). The video does also show that not only the person calling can attack. Both persons are in danger of getting a take down or a serious hit. The third video I found about this is really nice, cause it shows Mestre Joao Grande in action. In this video you see the 4 most common types of Chamada. But there is also another lesson to learn from this game. At 2 minutes 30 you see that he lifts his hands into the air, calling the other player into the Chamada. What the other player was supposed to do is also lift both his hands, which is of course quite a danger. And Mestre Joao Grande does directly show why, because then you are vulnerable to a Cabecada. Much more interesting for us here is that the Mestre called the other player, let him approach, and directly attacked him, thus stopping the Chamada ritual and continue playing “normal”. A Chamada doesnt have to end in the normal ritualistic way. It can end at any given time with an attack.

More information?

Is there more you know about the Chamada? Other things I forgot to tell cause I got lost in this huge bulk of text (hey, I’m not a professional writer!)? Is there anything I could learn about the Chamada and you could tell me? Please do! It’s kind of sad that there is so little information online to be found about the Chamada. And if some of you did find good information, Just post the link! That would be great!

I hope this post did help you understand a bit about the Chamada. I know that it is also pretty undetailed information and that it does not really go into the philosophy of the Chamada (and there is most definitely a huge bulk of philosophy behind it), but hey, at least I set a beginning with this post, right?

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