Saturday, February 11, 2006

Some time ago I placed a little article on our web site called "My Friend Fabricio". While in Bahia last month, I called Fabricio to ask him for one picture to be included at the formados' gallery at the Mestre Bimba Foundation. Immediately Dr. Fabricio Vasconcellos Soares attended my request despite his busy schedule as president of the universidade Unibahia. He told me he had several pictures with Mestre Bimba, including the ones that were published on the cover of the historical album "Capoeira Regional".

A few hours later I received one of his portraits for the gallery and a disc labeled "fotos". Only now I looked at the CD of pictures. Among them is one in which the Mestre is holding Fabricio's hands, a typical stance Bimba took while teaching the ginga. To hold the hands of the new student was one of the foundations of his Capoeira Regional. In all of the pictures, Mestre Bimba exudes his powerful persona, wisdom, and elegance.

In these times when I am so immersed into Bimba's capoeira, I could not help but becoming emotional with the photos. Thank you, Fabricio. These pictures immortalise you as the great capoeirista you were.

My Friend Fabricio.

Fabricio and I had been friends since childhood and he always was a source of inspiration for me. When Fabricio decided to do magic and charge 15 cents to the neighborhood kids for magic shows, I was his loyal assistant. When Fabricio started to study hypnotism, I too began to put all the volunteers--usually trusting old women--to sleep. When Fabricio went to business school, I went to business school. It was not a case of simple imitation, but rather a genuine affinity. One thing we did differently. Fabricio studied karate in Bahia, a pioneering venture at the time, while I concentrated on Capoeira.

Naturally, later on, Fabricio joined me in studying Capoeira, and he used to come at 5:30 in the morning to train, anxious to learn everything as fast as he could. And he learned and became a good Capoeirista. His picture is even on the back cover of Mestre Bimba's album.

What most impressed Fabricio in Karate was the picture of a Karate master with his right hand crumpling the massive belly of a bull in a deadly attack. Fabricio trained hard to perfect this movement. Cardboard, plywood, and even my mother's dearest plants could not withstand his startling attacks. Ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times he would stab his fingers into a box of sand, training tirelessly to kill a bull.

One summer day Fabricio and I were going up the Ladeira do Nordeste de Amaralina for a batizado party at Mestre Bimba's school. That batisado day, Fabricio had his big chance. On top of the Amaralina hill, he saw--not a bull, but an enormous pig eating a huge mountain of garbage. As soon as I saw the pig, I exclaimed, "Fabricio, this is it! Charge!" Fabricio looked at the animal, enthralled, but as a good Capoeirista he also noticed the crowd of brawny domino players standing by the door of a liquor store. I read his thoughts: "If I kill the pig, those guys will jump me." I didn't let him talk, saying quickly, "Don't worry, Fabricio. I'm with you. Whatever will be, will be." Fabricio had the utmost confidence in my backup in the moment of necessity. He breathed deeply, gauged the distance, and with a blood-curdling yell, flew through the air and towards the pig. It was a very powerful movement-the best he could do. With one eye on the pig, one eye on the domino players, I was frozen, goosebumps on my neck, ready for action. Fabricio's iron fingers reached the pig's belly as he roared, riveting everyone's eyes on the spectacle.

And the pig? The pig took the deadly attack to its gut without even looking at Fabricio, or interrupting its meal. Fabricio did not understand. He stood looking at his finger--and at the pig, placidly munching garbage. The domino players looked at each other and shrugged. Poor Fabricio, so much training for nothing. He never set foot in a Karate studio again.


lily carstens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reg said...

what a story. what did he realize when he struck the pig? Was it is misplaced intentions from studying karate? Would he have still been a karate player if he didn't study wilth the intention of killing a bull? What are his intentions with Capoeira?


Anonymous said...

I am from Brazil,my name is vitor and my nickname russo.

estou ja a 6 meses praticado caporira na academia do mestre Nâgo no rio de janeiro. sou um estudante de educaçâo fíca e estou no 5 periudo.

My e-mail address is or

Tucano Branco said...

Mestre Acordeon,
Sou Tucano Branco, treino com o Mestre Doutor. Adoro seu cd novo. Inspiration.

Flexivel / Bogdan said...

Hello Mestre Acordeon,

This is Flexivel from Pigmeu's school in Alemanha. I have just edited a longer e-mail I'd like to send to you, but I didn't find your adress anywhere on the pages, and our next training will be only next week.
If you read this, could you send me your e-mail adress to
Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Olá Mestre, que bom ver que o seu trabalho está correndo bem, gosto muito das suas musicas. É facil entender a Capoeira quando escuto o som do Berimbau, acho que o Mestre é um dos grandes tocadores da Capoeira dos nossos dias. Desejo muita boa sorte para o Mestre e para todos os Capoeiristas que estão contribuindo para o bom nome da capoeira. Um abraço e axé de Portugal, Bruno Arisco

Brother OMi said...

too funny, i enjoy old school vintage stories like this. thank you sir!

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Anonymous said...

Mestre, I love that story.
-One of your students

Calango Verde said...

Mestre Acordeon,
You are a mystery and a mystic, I still have many questions, but amazingly you have answered many of them, I was just not listening. While floating around in the capoeira ocean sometimes I forget from where I have departed and to where I am docking. Please keep in touch.

calango verde

Soldado said...

Hallo Mestre

In my 3 years of Capoeira I have learnt so much about this elusive art which clearly is one of its defining characteric. We see in the development of Capoeira a lot of students train with Mestre Bimba for various periods of time. They continue training themselves for some years, thus creating a different style of Capoeira, different in the way it is taught and played. After watching a video clip of a conference where various Mestres converged, I was amazed at how differently each person played, some being very athletic and others very calculated and others very funny.

Basically in your view, how has Capoeira evolved since Mestre Bimba, Mestre Pastinha era. What important lessons do we draw from this era?

Muito Obrigado

Felipe Carvalho said...

Desculpe por escrever em potuguês mestre, meu inglês não é lá essas coisas. Treino com mestre Espiga aqui no Rio de Janeiro. Vejo que o senhor não atualiza o blog há algum tempo e espero que essa msg o incentive o escrever novamente neste espaço. Eu também tenho um blog e nele fala de tudo, inclusive capoeira. Faça uma visita.

Federico Madias said...

Mestre, meu nome e federico e sou da argentina, to fazendo uma pesquiza da historias nas cantigas de capoeira, acho q vc debe de conheçer muitas.
Se vc poder mande um mail pra min.

Jorge said...

Mestre, what a great story.

Perhaps that pig had a very high black belt in Karate, too. :)


Anonymous said...

preciso muito entrar em contato com o Mestre Bira Acordeon. Vi que veio ao Brasil no princípio deste ano. não sei se já voltou para a USA. meu email é
e o assunto que estou providenciando é a 2a. edição do livro de Emília Biancardi - Ôlelê Maculelê e ela gostaria de ter um depoimento sobre o Maculelê e a Capoeira nos dias de hoje.

grata. Lucy Geão - núcleo de negócios culturais- salvador-bahia-brasil

Anonymous said...

Great job done, keep it up!with the best regards!

poeira said...

It was nice reading your words Mestre. It's ironic that i find your webpage today, with this story, because one year ago you visited our group's Batizado in Connecticut - Grupo Esporao. During the Question/Answer portion I had asked you about training with Mestre Bimba and that is the exercise you showed us. I even have a nice picture to remember it all. Always an honor, look forward to more of what you share.

Caipira said...

Salve Mestre Acordeon,

I was really excited to find that you had a blog.
I will be a faithful follower of your reports, since you are e reference in Capoeira to me, specially in music.

I loved the story with the pig. It must have been something worth to see! Thanks for sharing this with us.

The main reason for me to be contacting you is that I will be in California (SF and SD) within 2 weeks for work reasons and while I'm there I would like to get the chance to meet you and attend to one of your classes. Will you be teaching around this season? I understand your school is located in Berkeley, is this correct?

Obrigado e muito Axé!


wise508 said...

Oi, Bira:

Tudo bem? Quanto tempo!

Ainda moro em Dallas.

Um beijo.


Ci said...

adorei a historia!
voce escreve muito bem!
Salve mestre acordeon.

Capoeira Forever! said...

'We learn karate so that we may never use it'
I can't remember who said this , but it is one of my favorite martial arts quote although a bit puzzling to some people.
Maybe Fabricio shouldn't have learned karate with the intent to kill a bull. =p

Very amusing story by the way.

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Mestre, what a great story! Good luck for your ride. I rode 1.600km once and it was one of the best times of my life. So many little stories and so many little questions and answers. May the gods guide you.

Muito axé e obrigado.


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