• Ajitu Capoeira


Ajitu Capoeira Professora Bia

:: Manuel dos Reis Machado - Mestre Bimba 1900 – 1974
- Short Biography


Mestrre Bimba


Son of Luiz Cândido Machado and Maria Martinha do Bonfim. Mestre Bimba was born on November 23rd 1900 at the "Bairro do Engenho Velho" in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The nick-name "Bimba" came up due to a bet between his mother and the midwife during his birth; his mother bet that he was going to be a girl and the midwife bet he would be a boy. After he was delivered, the midwife said...it's a boy, look at his "bimba" (male sexual organ).

Mestre Bimba started Capoeira at the age of 12 at Estrada das Boiadas, today bairro da Liberdade, in Salvador. He was taught by Bentinho, an African that used to be the capitão da Companhia Baiana de Navegação (a navigation Captain). Mestre Bimba was and is so important to Capoeira because he changed the destiny of it!

At 18, Bimba felt that Capoeira had lost its entire efficacy as a martial art and an instrument of resistance, becoming a folkloric activity reduced to nine movements. It was then that Bimba started to restore movements from the traditional Capoeira fights and added movements from another African fighting style called Batuque - a vicious grappling type of martial art that he learned from his father (of which his father was a champion), as well as introducing movements created by himself. This was the beginning of the development of Capoeira regional.

Capoeira was not an allowed practice during slavery (illegal). The official prohibition of Capoeira remained even after slavery was abolished on May 13th, 1888. Persecution and punishment were almost successful in eradicating Capoeira from the “streets” of Brazil by the 1920’s.

In spite of the ban, Mestre Bimba created a new style, the “Capoeira Regional”. He incorporated new moves and techniques from Batuque (a vicious grappling type of martial art that he learnt from his father, who was a champion of Batuque), jiu-jutsu and boxing.The Capoeira Regional or Luta Regional Baiana was then a more martial art orientated, effective, efficient and athletic style of Capoeira...

After a performance at the palace of Bahia’s Governor, Juracy Magalhães, Mestre Bimba was finally successful in convincing the authorities of the cultural value of Capoeira, thus ending the official ban in the 1930s.

In 1932, Mestre Bimba founded the first Capoeira school, the Academia escola de Capoeira Regional, at the Engenho de Brotas in Salvador, Bahia. Previously Capoeira was only practiced and played on the streets. However, Capoeira was still heavily discriminated by the upper class society in Brazil.

In order to change the slyness, stealthy and malicious reputation associated with Capoeira practitioners at that time, Mestre Bimba set new standards to the art. His students had to wear a clean, white uniform, show proof of grade proficiency from school, show good posture and many other standards. As a result, doctors, lawyers, politicians, upper middle class people, and women (who were previously excluded) started to join his school, providing him with better support.

In 1936, Bimba challenged fighters of any martial art style to test his Capoeira Regional style. He had four matches, fighting against Vitor Benedito Lopes, Henrique Bahia, José Custódio dos Santos (Zé I) and Américo Ciência. Mestre Bimba won all four matches. In 1937, he earned the state board of education certificate.

In 1942, Mestre Bimba opened his second school at the Terreiro de Jesus - rua das Laranjeiras; today rua Francisco Muniz Barreto, #1. He also taught Capoeira to the army and at the police academy. He was then considered “the father of modern Capoeira”. It was then that many important people of the time became his students.

Unfortunately in 1973 he became unhappy with false promises and lack of support from the local authorities in Bahia, he moved to Goiânia the same year by invitation from an ex student. He died a year later, on February 5, 1974 at the Hospital das Clinicas de Goiânia from a stroke.

Mestre Bimba had many jobs throughout his life; a coal man, carpenter, warehouse man, longshoreman and horse coach conductor, but he was always a Capoeirista. The father of modern Capoeira. He created Capoeira Regional, and with this new style he developed new games, songs rhythms and spirit.

For Mestre Bimba, Capoeira was a fight but "competition" was to be permanently avoided since he believed it was a "cooperation" fight, where the stronger player was always responsible for the weaker player and helped him to excel in his own fighting techniques. He turned something strong, malicious and great into something strong, peaceful and beautiful.

Muito obrigado Mestre Bimba, rest in peace.


:: Mestre Bimba's Capoeira Academy Rules:


: Mestre Bimba's Capoeira Academy Rules:

Mestre Bimba strongly believed Capoeira had an extraordinary value as a self-defence martial art, hence his efforts to develop its learning in a structured and methodical way. He developed a Capoeira teaching method with commandments, principles and traditions, which are still part of the Capoeira Regional up to this day. Some of his commandments are:

1. Quit smoking. It is prohibited to smoke during the training. 
2. Quit drinking, alcohol is bad for your metabolism. 
3. Avoid show off your progress to your friends outside the roda. Remember, the element of surprise is the best ally in a fight. 
4. Avoid conversation while training. You are paying with your time and by observing the other capoeiristas, you will learn more. 
5. Always practice the ginga. 
6. Practice the fundamental exercises daily. 
7. Do not be afraid to get close to your opponent. The closer you are, the more you will learn. 
8. Keep your body relaxed. 
9. It is better to get beat up in the roda than on the streets.


Those rules were first published in the booklet "Curso de Capoeira Regional de Mestre Bimba" by Mestre Bimba, which was addition to vinyl record with all the rhythms of Capoeira Regional.


Mestre Bimba also established his own Capoeira principles as the basis for his Capoeira teaching method:

• Gingar sempre (to keep oneself in constant movement when fighting); ginga is the basic Capoeira movement;
• Esquivar sempre (to dodge away from the opponent's attacks);
• All movements must have a purpose (attack and corresponding defence movement);
• Preserve a constant fixed position on the ground (acrobatic jumps makes one vulnerable);
• Play according to the rhythm determined by the berimbau (Capoeira musical instrument):
• Respect a player when he/she can no longer defend an attack movement;
• Protect the opponent's physical and moral integrity (during the practice, the stronger will protect the weaker player).


Consequently, Mestre Bimba created several traditions and rituals to support his methodology:

• A chair was used in order to train beginner students/players;
• The charanga is the Capoeira orchestra, composed by a berimbau and two pandeiros;
• The singing (quadras e corridos), songs composed by Bimba to accompany the game;
• The batizado (baptism), the first time the student plays Capoeira to the sound of the berimbau.


The aspects that make Capoeira Regional unique are its methods:

• Admission exam (physical test made with Capoeira movements to identify students' abilities);
• The sequência (sequence) of the basic 17 Capoeira attack and defence movements;
• Practice of the different rhythms of the game;
• Specific movements: traumatizing, projection, connected and unbalancing;
• Practice of cintura desprezada (second sequence practice by advanced students);
• Formatura (Capoeira teacher graduation);
• Especialização and emboscada (specific advanced exams).

By Ben Protetor
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