The Owner of the Game: Mestre Bimba


Although many capoeiristas don't like the idea of two different styles of capoeira coexisting inside the art, it's clear, even for non-practitioners that there are really two paths leading to the same end. One way is the Capoeira Regional, more recent, one can say, created by Mestre Bimba in the early 30's. The other path is the one called Capoeira Angola, claimed to be the traditional form of the art inherited from the slaves in its true form. The Angola style can be seen on the next page of this Web site. Here, the issue is Capoeira Regional.


The main reason to present it first is that the art became better known throughout the world after the activism of Manuel dos Reis Machado, a.k.a. Mestre Bimba, gave it a level of respectability. He was the first master to be allowed to have a registered practicing place in Salvador in 1932. This simple thing changed not only the image the art had to the public, but the whole course of capoeira to evolve into what it is today.


Mestre Bimba and former president Getulio Vargas

The simple act of Mestre Bimba to shake hands with populist president Getulio Vargas during the 30's, and make a presentation to him at that occasion, may have caused more benefits to the art of capoeira than all the undeniable strength its masters combined to keep the art alive. It was the public recognition of its value and a 'cart blanche' to continue its development.

The Capoeira Regional has been labeled more as a "spectacle" than real capoeira throughout the time due to the many acrobatic movements that have been integrated to it since its creation by Mestre Bimba. Actually, it is possible to see capoeira shows performed in theaters and folkloric shows in Salvador in order to entertain the tourists. But that is not the real art.

Maybe that's why there are no shows of Capoeira Angola in Salvador and anywhere in the world. Minimalist in its tone, it can't offer the tourists the kind of amusement they expect. If Capoeira Angola could be compared with a theater style, it would certainly fit the description of the No Theater.

About these differences, I think Mestre Bola Sete, a disciple from the Angola style, gave the final word when he wrote in his book 'A Capoeira Angola na Bahia':

"...What differentiates Capoeira Angola from Capoeira Regional is, mainly, the philosophy used in both schools. The angola master cares to convey to his disciple the cults pertaining to the Capoeira Angola...endowing him with a great level of harmful which the capoeirista only attacks when the opportunity comes...the master of Capoeira Regional prepares his disciple to attack, making him more aggressive".