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O Barracão de Mestre Waldemar Frede Abreu em inglês .pdf

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Capoeira Game in Mestre Waldemar’s Hut
By Araguaya
Jornal Correio Paulistano, São Paulo, 16 November 1957
Source: O Barracão do Mestre Waldemar by Frederico Abreu
Translation by Shayna McHugh
Salvador. Mestre Waldemar’s capoeira is found on Pero Vaz Street in the neighborhood
of Liberdade. Capoeira has been played in Brazil since the last century. Its roots are
African and it was introduced in Brazil by the Bantu slaves from Angola. Its
effectiveness as a “real fight” has already been sufficiently proved.
“This must have been the main reason for the repression that capoeira suffered in the
times of the slave masters, of the imperial police, and of the republic, but the blacks
didn’t take long to find a solution: in the same way that they camouflaged their religion
using the religion of the slave masters, they camouflaged the fight of capoeira with
pantomimes, charades, and dances accompanied by music,” says Carybé in a
And it was thus that the violent martial art known as capoeira became transformed in a
“ballet” of men, danced to the sound of the berimbau, caxixi, reco-reco, and pandeiro. In
the old days, the berimbau-de-boca [mouth-berimbau or Jew’s-harp] was used; today it’s
the berimbau-de-barriga [belly-berimbau].
Importance of the Berimbau
The game accompanies the rhythm of the berimbau. There are a series of well-known
rhythms, according to Carybé: Cavalaria, São Bento Pequeno (the samba of capoeira),
Banguela (an inside game with knives), Santa Maria (slow game), Ave Maria (hymn of
capoeira), Amazonas (medium game), and Iúna (low game).
When our reporters arrived at Waldemar’s hut, the capoeira had already started. The
orchestra was formed by three berimbau players and four or five pandeiro players. The
roof of the hut is covered with palm leaves. The floor is made of cement, and the
audience is separated from the capoeira players by a small fence. Outside, some Bahian
women sell coconut candy, while others fry well-known Bahian snacks.
The neighborhood is poor and overpopulated. It’s Sunday. Except for the tourists and
some fans of capoeira, no one else in the neighborhood pays attention. Capoeira in
Liberdade must be routine and commonplace.
They sing to the rhythm of the music:
Uma pedra deu na outra
E meu coração no seu...

One rock touched another
And my heart touched yours...

Ele é mandingueiro
Vamo-nos embora
Pelo mundo afora

He is a sorcerer
Let’s go away
Through the world out there

The capoeiristas continue performing their movements. Touching the adversary with
one’s hands is not permitted. Only the feet and hands may touch the ground.
Querem me vender camarão…
Fui comer uma peixada
Na casa de Zé Anum
Menina que peixe é esse
Esse peixe é de atum

They want to sell me shrimp...
I went to eat fish
In Zé Anum’s house
Girl, what fish is this
This fish is tuna

The pairs of capoeiristas play one after another: Vanildo and Moisés, Vanildo and
Manuel, Vanildo and Cabelo Bom. Bugalho on the berimbau commands the orchestra.
Old Cláudio plays pandeiro. But when mestre Waldemar arrives, he plays berimbau and
assumes the leadership. Pau Brasil and Nelson are also good berimbau players. João de
Deus and Valdomiro work magic on the pandeiro. The contra-mestre is Traíra. He is also
good on the berimbau.
The exhibitions continue. Rabo de arraia, rasteira, cabeçada, are some of the many
attacks used. To each attack, there is a corresponding dodge of the adversary, so that
capoeira evolves in a masculine “ballet.” This game has the potential to attract lots of
attention in the big southern cities and even outside Brazil.
The painter and sculptor Mario Cravo explains to our reporter, “Capoeira is suffering
some modifications that affect its former purity. Mestre Bimba, according to some
folklorists, did a great disservice to capoeira when he added various blows foreign to the
art.” In compensation, capoeira owes much to Carybé and Mario Cravo, two painters and
sculptors, who absolutely love Bahian things.
In Carybé’s texts we find these capoeira verses:
Sinhazinha que vende aí
Vendo arroz do Maranhão
Meu senhor mandou vender
Na terra de Salomão

Little lady, what are you selling there
I’m selling rice from Maranhão
My master told me to sell it
In the land of Solomon

And the chorus responds to the mestre,
Galo cantou

The rooster crowed



And the capoeiristas continue moving like two snakes, which dance without touching
each other. A handkerchief is placed in the center of the circle. One of the two
capoeiristas – the more skilled one – must grab it with his mouth, while his adversary will
do everything to prevent this. The steps of the savage “ballet” continue. Cabelo Bom
snatches the handkerchief with his teeth, to the applause of the audience. A few bills are
thrown into the ring to reward him for his effort.
Uma pedra deu na outra
E meu coração deu no seu...

One rock touched another
And my heart touched yours...

These days, Waldemar only plays berimbau,
but don’t be fooled
By Cristina Cardoso
Diário de Notícias, Salvador, 10 October 1970
Source: O Barracão do Mestre Waldemar by Frederico Abreu
Translation by Shayna McHugh
Mestre Waldemar do Pero Vaz, besides making the best berimbaus in Bahia, is a great
capoeirista among the top experts of the past, having played with Pastinha, Bimba,
Totonho Marê, and so many others. Today he only plays on Sundays, when – wearing
white shoes, white pants, a plaid shirt, gold rings and watch – he returns to the old days
of his favorite sport. He talks enthusiastically about capoeira, without speaking badly of
any capoeirista, without speaking badly of anyone. These days he has exchanged capoeira
for the berimbau, which he makes with much care and affection, and challenges:
“They’re the best in Bahia, yes ma’am, and I bet that I can beat any capoeirista or
berimbau player in playing or singing.”
A great capoeirista, Waldemar Rodrigues da Paixão, mestre Waldemar of Pero Vaz,
where he has lived since 1940, did not become a professional, nor did he establish an
academy. But he made a name for himself and attracted students in the community of
capoeira, which he brought from Ilha de Maré to show that it’s not just the city of
Salvador that has good capoeira players. Showing a colorful berimbau painted with
yellow, green, white, and red stripes and decorated with various Senhor do Bonfim
ribbons, he says, “This is Ãs de Ouro, my favorite berimbau, which I’ve kept with me for
six years; from it I get the rhythms to call the men for a fight of honor in the fields of
angola. Whoever doesn’t believe it should come see.”

Mortal Blow
Capoeira is not a death-fight, and its only mortal blow was created by Waldemar, who
says: “The Dentinho de Angola1 can kill, yes ma’am. The movement involves curving the
body and lifting the heel of your shoe to the opponent’s Adam’s apple. It’s my ‘pulo de
gato.’”2 But today, mestre Waldemar is tired and only plays for fun. Even so, he negates
that capoeira is in crisis, saying, “Currently, capoeira is evolving, winning attention.
Look, there are even guys seeking me out to do a news report about capoeira. In the old
days it wasn’t like this at all. A capoeirista was a delinquent, a tough guy who messed
around with the police. Today even refined people practice angola.”
White Suit
Mestre Waldemar doesn’t know capoeira regional. For him, there exists only capoeira
angola, created in Brazil. Even so, he states: “I don’t exactly know how capoeira started.
It didn’t happen in my lifetime, and I’m not going to tell lies or say that I knew people
who I never even saw. That which I know for sure is that capoeira is different. In the old
days, we played wearing starched white suits and impeccable shoes, and we didn’t get
dirty. That is, unless the opponent was disloyal and stuck his foot onto us. But that was
playing dirty; it’s not like today, where capoeiristas grab each other with their hands. In
my time, capoeira was played only with the feet and head, in a fight of agility and
quickness. The important thing was to have a good head and fast feet.”
With Caymmi
“I’ve only been in Rio de Janeiro once,” continues Mestre Waldemar, “but it was worth
it. It was in 1953, when I performed in Dorival Caymmi’s show. ‘It just so happens that
I’m Bahian,’ and I stayed there for 45 days, you know, as the opportunities arose and I
gave my price for the presentation. Then other capoeiristas came along who charged less,
and they crossed my path, and that was the end of my trip.” A student of mestre Telabi
from Periperi, Waldemar do Pero Vaz is a peaceful capoeirista who doesn’t criticize
anyone; he has nothing but praise for the great capoeiristas of the past: “Agripino de
Periperi, Pastinha, Totonho de Maré, Barbosa do Cabeça (a porter, the capoeirista with
the best technique I’ve ever seen), Onça Preta who went to Rio de Janeiro and I don’t
know if he’s alive or dead.”


‘Little tooth of Angola’
‘Leap of the cat,’ an expression referring to a professional secret, a trick of the trade, a trump card that one
keeps up one’s sleeve.


Berimbau and Music
Today, Waldemar do Pero Vaz dedicates himself more to the berimbaus and rhythms; he
also writes songs. One of them even talks about going to the moon:
Eu já vivo enjoado
De viver aqui na terra
Mamãe eu vou pra lua
Já falei com minha mulher
E ela me respondeu
Nós vamos se Deus quiser

I’m already tired
Of living here on Earth
Mom, I’m going to the moon
I’ve spoken with my wife
And she replied to me
We’ll go if God wants us to

Waldemar points to the capoeiristas of the future who have been his students: José
Cabelo Bom and Zacarias Boa Morte, who will continue his tradition. “But what I want
to do right now is make berimbaus, instruments with such a lovely sound, commanding
angola, with Cavalaria, São Bento Grande, São Bento Pequeno.” He says, “whoever
wants to see me should come to Pero Vaz on Sunday, when I’ll give one of my berimbaus
as an homage to mestre Caiçara.”
“The great tragedy,” concludes mestre Waldemar, “is that Bahia is stuffed with capoeira
mestres and no one understands each other any more. But the people are the eternal and
infallible judges that will determine who are the true mestres, the keepers of the truth. But
what’s worse is that each mestre speaks badly about the others; there is no unity, no one
thinks that the group should be united. Look at the example of doctors: a patient is being
treated, one doctor gives him medicine and the sick man ends up in the cemetery.
Another doctor examines him, sees that the medicine caused the death, asks who treated
the patient, but doesn’t ridicule his colleague. They’re a united group. But these
capoeiristas just fight among themselves.”

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