There are two important masters of capoeira, Mestre Bimba the creator of Capoeira Regional and Mestre Pastinha the creator of Capoeira Angola.
These two remarkable masters changed the way people see capoeira today.
Manoel dos Reis Machado, better known as Mestre Bimba was born on November 23rd, 1899 in Salvador, Bahia. The son of Maria Martinha do Bonfim and the acclaimed Batuque fighter (a fighting style mainly based on sweeps) Luiz Candido Machado, it was not surprising to see Bimba (as he was tenderly called by his family) grow up to be a great fighter. At the age of 12 Mestre Bimba started to learn Capoeira with an African named Bentinho, Mestre Bimba became a Capoeira instructor. Frustrated with the poor perception of Capoeiristas and lack of respect for the art as a valuable cultural asset of Afro-Brazilian Culture, he decided to use his Capoeira and fighting skills learned from his father to develop Capoeira Regional; a game played at a faster pace, where technique and strategy were key elements of the game.
Along with his new style, Bimba sought to change the malicious reputation associated with Capoeira practitioners at that time, therefore setting new standards to the art.
The new Capoeira style gained much popularity despite criticism from other masters who saw Capoeira Regional as a threat to the essence of the traditional form of the art. At many times, Mestre Bimba was challenged by fighters of other disciplines who were in disbelief of the efficiency of his new Capoeira style as a martial art. In 1936 Mestre Bimba publicly called, in a Bahian newspaper, fighters from any discipline to fight him with his Capoeira skills. Mestre Bimba defeated all his opponents.
In order to organize a disciplined method of teaching and to legitimize Capoeira as a form of self-defence and athletic sport, it took Mestre Bimba more than fighting bullies on the streets of Bahia. Beyond his fighting skills were Mestre Bimba’ s administrative and organizational skills.
The son of José Senhor Pastinha and Eugênia Maria de Carvalho, Vicente Ferreira Pastinha was born on April 5th, 1889 in Salvador-BA, Brazil. Mestre Pastinha was exposed to Capoeira at the age of 8 by an African name Benedito. An older and stronger boy from Pastinha’s neighborhood use to beat him up often. One day Benedito saw this aggression and told Pastinha to stop by his house so that he could teach him few things. At the next encounter with that boy, Pastinha defeated him so quickly that the older boy became his admirer. Mestre Pastinha had a happy and modest childhood.
In the morning he would take art classes at the Liceu de Artes e Ofício School where he learned to paint. During the afternoons he would play with kites and practice Capoeira. He continued his training with Benedito for three more years. Later, he joined a sailor’s school at his father wish, which did not support the practice of Capoeira. But at the school, he used to teach Capoeira to his friends. At the age of 21, he left the sailor’s school to become a professional painter. During his spare time he would practice Capoeira stealthily, since it was still illegal at that time. In 1941, at Aberrê (Patinha’s ex student) invitation, Pastinha went to a Sunday roda at “Ladeira do Gengibirra” located at Bairro da Liberdade, where the best masters would hang out. Aberrê was already famous on these rodas, and after spending the afternoon there, one of the greatest master of Bahia, Mestre Amorzinho, asked Pastinha to take over Capoeira Angola.
As a result, in 1942 Pastinha founded the first Angola school; the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola, located at the Pelourinho. His students would wear black pants and yellow t-shirts, the same color of the “Ypiranga Futebol Clube”, his favorite soccer club. He participated in the Brazilian delegation of the “First International Festival de Artes Negras” in Dakar, Senegal (1966), bringing with him Mestre João Grande, Mestre Gato Preto, Mestre Gildo Alfinete, Mestre Roberto Satanás and Camafeu de Oxossi. Pastinha worked as shoe shiner, tailor, gold prospector, security guard (leão de chácara) at a gambling house (casa de jogo), and construction worker at the “Porto de Salvador” to maintain him financially so he could do what he loved the most, be an Angoleiro. Betrayed by local authorities’ false promises and with no support, Pastinha was left abandoned in a city shelter (abrigo D. Pedro II – Salvador), blind and very sick. He dedicated his entire life to Capoeira Angola, and on April 12th, 1981, he played his last Capoeira game. Mestre Pastinha, the father and protector of Capoeira Angola, died at the age of 92, in November 13th, 1981.