Mestre Pastinha

Father of Capoeira Angola

Vicente Ferreira Pastinha was born in 1889 in Salvador, Bahia. As a boy of eight, Pastinha was often beat up by older boys; an African named Benedito took him aside and taught him Capoeira. From then on, Pastinha defeated his opponents and was admired by them. Pastinha took art classes at the Liceu de Artes e Oficio, where he learned to paint. In his free time, he played with kites and trained Capoeira with Benedito. Later, his father made him join a school to become a sailor. Although Capoeira was illegal, and not tolerated in the school, Pastinha taught it to many of his friends. At 21, he left school to become a professional painter. When Bimba made Capoeira legal with Regional, many other Capoeiristas, including Pastinha, felt that Capoeira was losing more than it gained by being stuffed into presentable uniforms and being taught in strict sequences. The old way was simply to watch rodas and learn by doing. Improvisation and mali­cia were the trademarks of the original Capoeira, which came to be known as Capoeira Angola.

In 1942, Pastinha was invited by one of his former students, Aberre to one of the famous Sunday rodas at the ladeira do Gengibirra, the bairro da Liberdade (in Brazil, the barrios of a city are usually up in its hills). After one afternoon, Amorzinho, one of Bahia's greatest masters of the time, asked Pastinha to lead the Capoeira Angola roda. Later that year, Pastinha opened the first Angola school, the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola. Students wore black pants and yellow shirts after the colours of the Ypiranga Futebol Clube, Pastinha's favourite soccer team. Mestre Pastinha said, "Capoeira e para homen, menino e mulher, se nao aprende quem nao quiser." (Capoeira is for man, child and woman; the only ones who do not learn it are those who do not want to.) He also said, "O que eu faco brincando voce nao faz nem zangado." (What I do playing, you don't even do when you're mad.)

Pastinha is the one who tells the story of carrying a double-edged sickle everywhere, and fastening it to the end of a berimbau to turn the instrument into a weapon. Because of his passion for art and his eloquent sayings, Pastinha became known as the philosopher of Capoeira. Because of his tireless teaching despite constant struggle with local authorities, he became known as the father of Capoeira Angola