Posted on 29 December 2007 by chan
An Interview with Mestre Bamba
Translated by Chan Griffin.
1.What does Capoeira Mean to you?
Today, Capoeira is a part of my life. I do not know how to live without teaching Capoeira, but at the same time I feel that I have a very strong mission which is to show our afro-brazillian culture to the world.
2.Why did you start to play Capoeira?
I am certain that capoeira was in my life right from the start. I was born in the Pelourinho, and from the right moment, Capoeira called me. (Saying that it had a mission for me).
3.What do you think about International Capoeira?
Capoeira is the same, the only thing that is different is the Capoeiristas themselves and their teaching methods. I always tell my students, what I do here in Brazil, teaching Capoeira, is what I do in any other place in the world. I TEACH CAPOEIRA.
4.What do you think about Capoeira in Brazil?
Capoeira is still looking for its place in the Brazillian Society, and each Capoeira Master has his mission to evolve and preserve such an important culture such as capoeira.
5. How do you see Capoeira of the past in relation to Capoeira of today?
The Brazilian people learnt our history is very important for humanity, this root is our history. Capoeira of the past has been through many difficulties and has been able to maintain/survive the resistance of the Brazilian people. Today there are still those who resist, but they have come to accept it.
6.How do you see the mixture of other martial art movements within capoeira. Did Mestre Bimba incorporate other martial arts within Capoeira?
I need to clear this up well for you.It is important to remember that in that era Mestre Bimba went to the ring to fight against many fighters and of course he used some movements from martial arts that arrived here in Bahia, but in the Roda of Capoeira he utilized the Basic course of Capoeira Regional: The movements, and teaching of the sequences did not have a direct mix.
7. What is your suggestion to improve the Capoeira of today, in respect to its growth?
I think it is neccassary that every Capoeirista needs humility, humanity, and respect for others.
9. What is the difference between the Philosophy of Capoeira Angola and Regional?
This question is very complicated and has various significances, thus to me the similarity of these philosophies lies in the recognition of our art and of our culture, within these two different styles.
10. Why don’t the Angoleiros play Capoeira Regional?
Don’t forget that not all Masters think like this, one example is Mestre Geni, who was also a scholar of Capoeira Angola, but some of the personal choices of the mestres of that era will insist in saying “I am an angoleiro and will die an Angoleiro” and those of Regional that say “I am Regional and will die Regional”.
11. Is their much difference between the Capoeira of Mestre Bimba and the Capoeira that you teach today?
It is important to note that to play Capoeira of Mestre Bimba we need to put all of his disciples/students, together at the same time. There are two different phases. In my time as a student of Mestre Vermelho 27 their existed a diffence. Capoeira Regional is dynamic in my understanding, today we are always discovering new movements and clearly preserving the teachings of the sequences, rhythms of the Berimbau, etc.
12. Do you believe in evolving Capoeira or in its traditions?
I once read from Mestre Bimba where he stated to his students that to create and evolve more teachings of sequences…Thus this is respecting the traditions to discover new forms and movements in Capoeira. This shows that he had a very open mind.
13. What is the fundamental mentality a student must have to be a Capoeirista?
1)Respect for your Mestre.2)Do not get involved in Capoeira politics3)Train, Train, Train.
14) What is the fundamental Mentality that a capoeirista needs to become a good teacher?
a)Respect your Master (Discipline).b)Always train.c)to stand up to your challengersd) To be Humble.e)never think that you know it all so that it stops you from training it.f)See, listen, and be quite.g)Be a good example to your studentsh) Always communicate with your Master.
15.What is your opinion about Mestres that teach Angola and Regional?
The styles are different and here in Bahia there are many problems.I, Mestre Bamba, never had a Mestre of Capoeira Angola, but I am capable of playing Capoeira Angola with anyone. I learnt watching the Best Mestres of Capoeira Angola playing between themselves, for example: João Grande, João Pequeno, Curió, Boca Rica, Moraes, Nô, Cobrinha Mansa, Mestre Gildo Alfinete among many others.
16. What is the significance of the São Salomão emblem?
The significance is for protection and it is used like an amulet of luck.
17. What type of philosophy does capoeira have, because I have always thought that capoeira was born out of the freedom of a people, thus this Capoeira can be free. But isn’t this dangerous for the reason that this freedom could be used to destroy its ability to be free?
I do not believe this, the validity of our brazilian culture is a slow and waiting process and each Master or Teacher knows very well these processes. This shows that Capoeira was not only born for the longing of the freedom of a people, but it is also, today, a part of the roots of the Brazilian culture which raises international levels of interests.
18. How does the process of selection of Cordãos work?
We consider our Graduation system for the students after a certain amount of time of capoeira and awareness; with this I can differentiate the different levels. For our security, we have certain knowledge tests with Teachers and Graduated students, and from this we decide which is the correct graduation for the student. We put into careful consideration the class attendance, responsibility, faith to the group, respect for their colleagues, respect for hierarchy, conduct, amongst the interest of professional growth. Because capoeira is growing in this sense.
19. How do you know that capoeira creates good spiritual, philosophical and physical harmony?
Before everything capoeira is also a sport, move the body, and the mind is not going to remain without thinking. You are always sync with yourself, your body overcomes its limits, builds resistance, and correct practice, it continually brings an innumerable amount of benefits.Mestre Bamba