MESTRE MORAES

 

Hello everyone,

Now, as we have heard a lot about the old mestres, both alive and dead. When Mestre Pastinha, Joao Grande and Joao Pequeno, as well as the rest of the Velha Guarda (Old Guard) were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s survival, I want to introduce you to two younger mestres who were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s worldwide success since the 1980’s. The first I want to introduce you to is MESTRE MORAES. The other one is MESTRE COBRA MANSA, but I will introduce him to you on another page.

Pedro Moraes Trindade, commonly known as Mestre Moraes, is a master of of Capoeira Angola. He was born in Ilha de Maré on the 9th of February, 1950.

Mestre Moraes has a Degree in Vernacular Letters with English from Universidade Católica do Salvador (1991) and a Master’s Degree in Social History from UFBA. He is a Doctor of the Multidisciplinary Program in Culture and Society of the Federal University of Bahia, where he develops research on capoeira, and culture in the 21st century. He is a professor of the Public Network of the State of Bahia (retired), and he has experience in English Language, Cultural Studies, Public Policies, Knowledge Management and History of Brazil.

Moraes began his training in Capoeira de Angola at the age of 7. His father was also a Capoeirista, and he introduced him to the art.

From there, he began training at MESTRE PASTINHA’S academy, when he was around 10 years old.

However, by that time Pastinha was no longer teaching regular classes. The academy was run by Pastinha’s students JOAO GRANDE and JOAO PEQUENO, who did much of the teaching. He states that he is truly the student of João Grande due to the impression made on the young Moraes by the inspiring way that João Grande plays capoeira…

In 1970, while in the employ of the Brazilian military, he left Salvador for RIO DE JANEIRO, where he stayed for about twelve years. There he trained some students which are now Mestres of their own groups, like Mestres BRAGA, NECO, and MESTRE COBRA MANSA.

 

To preserve and transmit his mentors’ teachings, he founded Grupo Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) in 1980, and two years later he moved with his organisation back to Salvador. His aim was to return to capoeira’s philosophical bases and its African, specifically Angolan roots, and to turn away from the more commercial aspects of the art.

Now, we all know that that Mestre Moraes did have a major in the resurrection of Capoeira Angola in the 1980’s. But the fact is, many people consider Mestre Moraes to be difficult to work with, and some people consider him to be outright annoying, and even racist.

Why? Well, Mestre Moraes is the type of guy who doesn’t shut up about certain things when others would. And he talks out when nobody wants him to.

I believe that for him, this is how he expresses what he considers to be the most important for Capoeira, that it doesn’t get ripped of its African roots, that it doesnt turn into a sport without it’s practicioners recognizing the blood and sweat people went through because they practiced African rituals on Brazilian soil. Yes I know, it’s hard to imagine that now, but he almost lived that reality.

One of his main criticisms is that since Mestre Bimba’s introduction of “Capoeira Regional” Capoeira underwent several changes in its perception and philosophy. As it got more accepted in Brazilian popular culture and was also promoted as “the only true Brazilian national sport”, people started to introduce all kinds of “novelties” into Capoeira, like a cord system, Capoeira standard uniforms, the registration of Capoeira in the National Boxing Federation. Traditional Capoeira Angola Mestres like Moraes use one word does express these changes: “whitening” of capoeira, or the Portuguese word “embranquecimento”.

But for mestres like Moraes, the worst thing was not what they did introduce into capoeira, but what was being neglected in capoeira at that time, which was the traditional Capoeira, the old mestres, the street rodas and the Afrobrazilian rituals in Capoeira Angola. Besides being neglected, during the times of the dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1984, traditional street rodas were disrupted by the police. Everything which wasn’t suiting the state’s policy was oppressed. It was during this time when Capoeira Regional and Contemporary capoeira, which didn’t oppose state policy, grew grew extremely far and wide in brazil, and Capoeira Angola declined, almost to extinction.

It was this state of affairs Mestre Moraes saw when he came back to Salvador in 1982. He saw that Capoeira Angola was dying out, with the old mestres losing ground against the new elite of modern Capoeiristas. So he started teaching, organizing rodas and fought for the recognition of Capoeira Angola as the traditional art form of Capoeira. He, and the angoleiros around him established connections to other Black Power movements like Ilê Aiyê and Olodum. Of course, there are legitimate Capoeira Angola groups which are less radical in advocating African traditions in Capoeira Angola, but GCAP does have a strong influence in the whole Capoeira Angola scene.

In the mid-80’s he and his Contra-Mestre Cobra Mansa were able to convince Mestre Joao Grande to get back to Capoeira Angola, with which they managed to bring back some heavy history into Capoeira.

 

Today, GCAP still exists, and is one of the most traditional schools of Capoeira Angola. In addition to being the Mestre of GCAP, Mestre Moraes himself worked as a teacher of English and Portuguese at a public school for many years.

Mestre Moraes, with all his radicality, is still after all this time, one of the most important Mestres of Capoeira Angola. And of course, there is much more to tell about Mestre Moraes than his strong opinion about Embranquimento and Africanidade. He is, by the way, known for his excellent music. You can say that he “codified” Capoeira Angola’s musical style, and defined its basic instrumental ensemble, and requires GCAP’s members to be versed in all aspects of capoeira Angola’s music. His first CD is actually the first CD I ever bought and listened to, and I believe that every Capoeirista should have that CD in their collection. And, his CD “brincando na roda” was nominated for the Grammy Award in 2004.

 

Other than that he is also known for his elaborate philosophy derived out of African spirituality…

“The capoeira roda, whose geometric form facilitates the propagation of energy, is one of the symbolic representations of the ‘macro’ world. The movements we make inside this ring symbolise the adversities we encounter in life, which we often don’t know how to deal with. In the game of life, our opponents, in most cases, know nothing of capoeira, but have movements peculiar to their own game, which we should be able to interpret and understand in their context, taking the roda as a point of reference. Playing in the roda, we succeed in establishing a fusion between playful elements and respect for the other person. But the roda isn’t reality: the world is. If we win in this roda, we can take the other one too!”

If you want another example, just check the interview translated by Shayna McHugh on her Capoeira Connection site.

Plus, he is of course an AMAZING player of Capoeira Angola and is known for his dominance in the Roda.

Moraes lives in Salvador, Bahia, where he divides his time between teaching English and Portuguese at a public school, and directing GCAP which now exists as more of a cultural outreach project which trains older visiting students as well as children who would otherwise not have a direction in which to put their energies.

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