I originally started Capoeira when I was 15 years old in 1997. My first ever Capoeira teacher was instructor Moreno from Grupo Candeias, Goiania. I originally went to Brazil for a student exchange, which was one of the greatest turning points in my life. Unfortunately I did not know much about Brazil at all, but thanks to my host brother and family, I fell in love with Brazilian culture and people. I originally started training with instructor Moreno only twice a week at my school that I was studying at (colegio Pheonix). The more instructor Moreno encouraged me, the more I fell in love with Capoeira and the more I trained. By the end of my exchange I was training up to five lessons a day, around 14 classes a week. I also cross trained with Grupo Abada twice a week in a gymnasium under a shopping mall called Boganville. It was with grupo Candeias that I received my first cordão (corda cinza). Instructor Moreno is a beautiful instructor with an amazing presence and energy. He was always so encouraging to me and accepting. His ability and knowledge in Capoeira was like his attitude, both open and pleasant.I came back to Adelaide, Australia half way through year 10. Even though I had only played Capoeira for six months, I was eager to further improve my capoeira skills. I instantly got a job working at Macdonalds, and saved every penny I could until two years later when I could afford to go back again. I firstly trained alone, and then found a brazilian called Junior, who was teaching at Flinders University once a week. I trained with him only for a couple of months, as the classes were often cancelled and irregular. He decided not to continue with the classes and stopped them all together after a few months. I then taught a couple of friends some basic movements at lunchtimes so that I would have some people to practice with.
CAPOEIRA IN ADELAIDE
Eventually, another Brazilian from São Paulo called Arnaldo Junior came to the rescue. He was an instructor of Capoeira from Capoeira Mandinga. I convinced junior to start teaching regularly, and he set up a class once a week up in Blackwood community centre. The same thing happened, the trainings became irregular and eventually died out all together. However, I still kept my training up and finally could afford to go back to Brazil again.This time I stayed with a friend in São Paulo called Daniel Do Valle. His family was very kind to me, and I was able to stay there for three months before I went back to Australia again. It was through Daniel that I met Mestre Reginaldo from Avante Capoeira. Within the first 3 days of arriving in Brazil I had a batizado and had skipped three cordas to receive a cordão amarelo (yellow). I then trained with Mestre Reginaldo intensely for three months, usually training with him between 8 and 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. Many trainings involved going to various classes that Mestre Reginaldo taught at all around São Paulo as well as some places in the country of São Paulo. I was also fortunate enough to spend two weeks traveling, and was able to train with a group in Belo Horizonte with Mestre Guto who was under Mestre Mão Branca, I was able to meet up with my instructor Moreno again, and also was able to train a little with Mestre Batata from Rio De Janeiro.I also learnt a little bit about Capoeira Angola from Mestre Robinho and Mestre Bigo, who were friends of Mestre Reginaldo. Mestre Reginaldo studied capoeira with Mestre Limão who studied Capoeira Regional with Mestre Bimba. Mestre Bigo was a student of Mestre Pastinha. A few days before I left brazil, I received instructorship under Mestre Reginaldo of Grupo Avante Capoeira.
I officially started teaching on the 3rd of March 2000. Both myself and Junior created ‘Soul Capoeira’. Our unfortunate dilemma was that we had both trained under different instructors and could not justify to any of them why we chose to affiliate ourselves with just one group. So we would pay our respect to all of the teachers that taught us, and lead a group under the name of Soul Capoeira. I originally wanted to call the group ‘Capoeira Da Alma’ but junior thought that it sounded a bit weird. That is how we came to the name Soul Capoeira.We taught twice a week in the Renaissance Gym, in Rundle Mall. Our classes went from five to fifteen to twenty students a class. We decided to teach more classes and would have five classes spread over three nights. At this time many brazilian exchange students became Soul Capoeira members, this really helped the Australians in the group learn a lot more about Brazilian culture and people. As our classes progressed Junior and I suddenly came into argument on certain aspects of the game and junior left teaching.
From there, Soul Capoeira moved to another space and became more and more popular. I had the begun for the first time learning another martial art called Yeah Chia, which was taught by Julian To, the group led by Sifu Lao. I practiced Yeah Chia for around 3 years and loved every minute of it, however because of my commitment to Capoeira and my Architecture studies I could not keep practicing. I was teaching up to 7 nights a week with some classes even reaching over 70 students at a time. After we moved into another space again, I decided to go back to Brazil again late 2002. Some of my students also came to Brazil: Stanley Maladenov, Toby Warren, and Ian Streetley.
Associacao De Capoeira Mestre Bimba
Also another friend of mine who was teaching Capoeira in Canberra for Mestre Jeronimo (Sydney) decided to come along with us. There, we went to visit my old group Avante Capoeira for a couple of weeks in São Paulo, and everyone had a surprise batismo. I received my Professor Cordão, with my students receiving there first cordãos. We all decided to head up to Salvador, Bahia to stay for a week or two. We ended up staying for two months and loving every minute of it. It was on the second day in Bahia that we came across the school that would be our future: Associacao de Capoeira Mestre Bimba, led by Mestre Bamba. Under the careful instruction of Cabaca, Toinho and of course, Mestre Bamba, I found myself forfilling many questions that had been left unanswered. I knew that Mestre Bamba was the one I was needing to follow, and asked him whether there was a possibility for us to be associated. It was in that moment that I was to take on the responsibility of carrying the weight and honour of Mestre Bamba’s school.
When I arrived back in Adelaide once again, I finished off my degree in Design Studies, and started training with Sifu Nino Pilla, at Nino Pillas Martial Arts academy. Sifu Nino provides a range of various martial arts, with the main ones that he teaches: Muay Thai, Kali, Jun Fan Gung-fu and Jeet Kune- Do Concepts. Si-Gung Dan Inosanto is Sifu Nino Pilla’s main instructor. I am deeply honoured to have Sifu Nino’s presence in my life, and to have met Si-Gung Dan Inosanto. They are the most amazing martial artists I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.Sifu Nino’s training and wisdom has helped me over the years to help understand some of the concepts of Capoeira in a better light.
Capoeira in Salvador
I traveled back to Brazil again in 2004, this time with some more of my students: Troy Paxton, Al Harry, Rob Patrinos and Ian Callahan. We headed straight to Salvador Bahia, in where we trained for our Batismo. Within this time I was able to have the privilege to play and visit many different groups such as: Grupo Kirube, Mestre Orelha, Capoeira Arte, Mestre Piaui, Grupo Topazio, Mestre Dinho, Mestre Boa Gente’s group, Mestre Cabeludo’s group, and a berimbau lesson from Mestre Gigante amongst a few others. I received a Formado Grading at the batizado, well earned.From here I went to Boston and visited some friends, Maleika and Zumbi. It was here in Boston I was able to spend some time learning some Capoeira Angola, and could also see some beautiful work in progress created by my great friend Zumbi. Zumbi definitely showed me how to put Soul into Capoeira. His amazingly beautiful kids and people he was teaching seemed to be harvesting enriching energy that I know will someday spread to the world.It was then time to visit London, where I was able to go and visit Mestre Carlos. Mestre Carlos was kind enough to take me to a batizado led by Professor Madeira from Grupo Muzenza, London. It was there I was able to play and meet many other instructors of whom I unfortunately cannot remember there names.
Capoeira in Europe
After a month in London, I was able to visit a group in Milan, Italy called Capoeira Sul da Bahia, Mestre Rudson, led by instructor Pedro. From there I went to Rome and met Mestre Augustino, from Grupo Topazio.I then went up to Belgium and was able to meet up with Mestre Bamba again, as he was organizing a batizado in Belgium for Kau Amorim’s group. It was here I met some other great teachers, Contra Mestre Carl Matos, Grupo Brasil, amongst many others. Kau Amorim’s students were great guys, full of energy and a great want to learn Capoeira.
From Belgium I headed up to Oslo, Norway and visited an old student of mine, Leila. She was able to take me to meet Mestre Macklau, and I was able to train a few classes with him.I finally decided that it was time to come home, and came back to teach again.In May 2005 I decided to go back to brazil again for an international encounter held by the associacao de capoeira mestre bimba. It was to celebrate 30 years of Mestre Bimba’s academy. On the way to Brasil, I went to Belgium for two weeks to help my Master, Mestre Bamba to teach and assist the workshops and Batizado (capoeira grading). I then went to Brazil and 4 of my students also came along, (one of them also came to Belgium), Aimee Kepa, Troy Paxton, Dasun Atchison, Anna Saunders and Joel Irwin.
We stayed in Brasil for three months before we came back to Adelaide at the end of August 2005. At the international encounter I was able to have the pleasure of learning from teachers such as: Mestre King Kong, Mestre Curio, Mestre Dinho, Mestre Itapoan , Mestre Gigante and Mestre Orelha. I was also able to meet and converse with Mestre Bola Sete, Mestre Raimundo Dias, Mestre Boca Rica, Mestre Pele and Mestre Gildo Afinete. They were all amazing workshops and presentations, in which I will be forever in gratitude. I also was a representative for Capoeira in Adelaide, Australia, and was able to meet and train with the other groups from Canada, Japan, and Belgium.
Since I began teaching in 2000, I have been able to have the pleasure of experiencing such things as:
•Teaching over 10,000 people
•Teaching classes of Capoeira of up to 200 students at a time.
•Teaching high risk youth, homeless kids, and raising money for charity organizations.
•Teaching at over 50 schools around Australia.
•Teaching workshops in Belgium, England and Brazil
•Teaching workshops in Pt Augusta, Swan Hill, Kempsey, Moree, Byron Bay, Alice Springs, Pt Maquarie, Canberra, The Grampians, Beaufort, Mt Gambier, Millicent and Broken Hill.