Mestre Bimba Biografy

Mestre Bimba Biografy

- Categories : Capoeira's Masters

Automatic translation from French ... Thank you for your understanding...

Mestre Bimba (1899-1974)

His name: Manoel dos Reis Machado, son of Luiz Cândido Machado and Dona Maria Martinha do Bonfim

Born: November 23, l899 in the Engenho Velho district, parish of Brotas in Salvador - Bahia.

The nickname "BIMBA" comes from a bet between his mother, Dona Martinha, who thought to give birth to a girl and, the midwife, who thought it would be a boy. At the time of birth, the mother asked the midwife if she had won the bet and the midwife replied: "BIMBA" Dona Martinha. Bimba means the name of the genital organ in the northeast, referring to the male sex.

Mestre Bimba and the practice of Capoeira:

Bimba began his apprenticeship in the art of capoeira at the age of 12, on the road to Boiadas, today in the black district of Liberdade, having for master a son of Africans named Bentinho, captain in the "Companhia de Navegação" in Bahia. He was a docker for 14 years and started teaching capoeira at 18 in the neighborhood where he was born in "Clube União em Apuros". Until 1918, there was no club like today, and we trained at the corner of a street, at the doors of warehouses, or even in the middle of the bush.

His apprenticeship at Bentinho lasted 4 years. From this period, he began to transmit the lessons received and taught capoeira Angola to the harbor office of the ports of Bahia for 10 years.

"Sodré (1991, apud Campos 2001) refers to the Master:" he was one of the last great figures of what one could call the heroic cycle of the Blacks of Bahia ". Segundo Capoeira (2006, p.50) , "Bimba was a renowned and feared fighter. He got the nickname "Three Hits" because it was the most his opponents could handle. "

Bimba, still a capoeira practitioner, started teaching in 1918, his black and mulatto students came from the lower classes. But despite his young age (18), he also had students from privileged classes, such as judge Decio dos Santos SEABRA, from the family of former governor SEABRA; Dr. Joaquim de Araújo Lima, journalist (Imparcial and Nova Era), then governor of Guaporé. For these and others, the courtyards were private in the courtyards and balconies of their homes.

"At 29, Mestre Bimba himself said:" In 1928, I created, the Regional, which is the batuque mixed with Angola, with more shots, a real fight, good for the physique and the 'mind. "Thus was born the Capoeira Regional Baiana."

The emergence of the "Regional"

Consider the capoeira of the time as ineffective and very folk, because the movements were extremely disguised, Master Bimba decided to develop a more effective style of capoeira, based on the old "Batuque" (fight in which his father was a great fighter, even considered a champion), adding his own creativity, and introducing movements that he deemed necessary for capoeira to be more effective.

Then, in 1928, Master Bimba created what he called "the Baian regional struggle". He tested his effectiveness not only with capoeiristes and aggressive police, but especially by challenging other famous fighters from other sports. He won all the fights and the longest fight lasted only 1 minute and 10 seconds. Bahia newspapers reported his actions, alluding to his courage and bravery. This fight had this name because it was only practiced in Salvador ... But later, with its expansion, it will take the name CAPOEIRA REGIONAL.

Recognition of Capoeira in Brazil

In 1932, Mestre Bimba founded his first regional style academy at Engenho Velho de Brotas in Salvador, under the name of CENTRO DE CULTURA FÍSICA REGIONAL BAIANA. From then on, his ascent began, making him famous and winning several titles. One of them is that of "Father of Modern Capoeira".

From the 1930s, with the creation of the new state, Brazil experienced a period of great political and cultural transformation, where nationalist and modernization ideals became evident. In this context, Mestre Bimba gains the possibility of ensuring that his new style of capoeira reaches the most privileged social classes.

In 1936, he made the first presentation of his work and the following year, the Governor General of Bahia, General Juracy Magalhães, invited him to give a performance at the governor's palace, where the authorities and guests were present, including understood the president of the time, very satisfied with the presentation.

Capoeira is thus recognized as a "national sport". Mestre Bimba has been recognized by the Secretariat of Education and Public Assistance of the State of Bahia as a teacher in physical education and his academy was the first in Brazil to be legally recognized and registered with a license. dated June 23, 1937.

In 1939, he taught capoeira at the CPOR barracks.

Despite his sympathy for the Communist Party (PC), Bimba taught for a long time in the army and in 1930 students of the RPCP contacted him and asked him for regional capoeira lessons. They wanted Bimba to teach in the Barbalho fort. He did so against his will, because of the problems that the capoeiristas and the underprivileged classes encountered with the police. A little later he became a popular instructor for members of the armed forces. What fascinated the military the most was the course of "cursos de emboscadas".

In 1942 he founded his second academy at Terreiro de Jesus.

In 1949, the writer Monteiro Lobato met him and dedicated to him the tale Vinte e dois by Marajó, which tells the story of a capoeirist sailor. In 1953, in São Paulo with his students, Mestre Bimba introduced himself to President Getúlio Vargas, who declared that capoeira was the only truly national sport.

In the 1930s, Getúlio Vargas took power and, seeking popular support for his policy, which included "body rhetoric", authorized the (supervised) practice of capoeira: only indoors and with permission of the police. Mestre Bimba took advantage of the breach to open the first "academy", beginning a new period - that of the academies - after the period of slavery and marginality (Capoeira 2006, p.51). He received from the technical inspector of vocational secondary education the license title "Mr. Manoel dos Reis Machado, director of the physical education course located in Rua Bananal, 4". Since capoeira was not well received by society, Mestre Bimba decided to register it as a regional physical culture center (Centro de Cultura Física Regional), located on Francisco Muniz Barreto street. 01 - Pelourinho.

In 1955, he successfully performed at the José de Alencar theater in Fortaleza.

In 1956, during the opening evening of TV Record, at SP, and the same year at ABI and Maracanãzinho, in Rio.

In 1968, he performed with his students in front of 3,000 people at an exhibition in Minas.

In 1969, he participated in the 2nd national symposium on capoeira in Rio, sponsored by the Aeronautical Sports Commission, but only for one day saying that "it would get nowhere". During the first symposium, he sent Mestre Decânio.

In 1972, the last graduation of the regional center of physical culture took place, in this graduation the Mestre Vermelho 27 was the lecturer.

Training methods

What sets Mestre Bimba apart from other capoeiristas of his time is that he was the first to develop an educational system and teach indoors. In addition to this system, he developed self-defense techniques even against weapons. Mestre Bimba was very worried about the image of Capoeira, not allowing those who did not work or study, to train in his academy.

Mestre Bimba developed the first teaching method. Let's see how it worked below:

Entrance exam

It used to be said that Master Bimba made a "tie" on the neck of the individual who wanted to train and said to him "Agüenta ai sem chiar! - literally" hold on without creaking ". the student was admitted to the school for the necessary time. Mestre Bimba justified this criterion by saying that he only wanted men in his gymnasium. He then modified the criteria by subjecting the candidate to movements so that he can assess whether the applicant was able to practice regional capoeira. The next step would be to learn the "teaching sequence".


At this stage, the student learned what was called the "teaching sequence", namely the eight sequences of attacks, dodges and counterattacks intended only for beginners, simulating the most common situations that the student would face during the capoeira game.

It was the first teaching method created to teach someone to play capoeira. The disciples repeated these sequences two by two without the accompaniment of the instruments. When these were ready, the Master said: "Amanhã você vai entrar no aço, no aço do Berimbau - Tomorrow you will enter steel, the steel of Berimbau". Many feared it would be an exercise in physical strength. It was common at the time to say that the capoeiristes, once seized, did not know how to react. So, Master Bimba, with his creativity, taught his students what the best solutions were. All these teachings made Master Bimba's method incomparable and this training lasted only about 3 months, then the disciple was then baptized.


The baptism took place when the pupil was playing for the first time in the wheel with the accompaniment of the instruments. Battery formed by a berimbau and two pandeiros. The master chose an older pupil who would play with the new one and then played the "berimbau toque" which characterizes regional capoeira. The student was then placed in the center of the round so that his sponsor or the master gave him a nickname. Once the "war name" was chosen, everyone applauded, then the teacher sent the student to receive the "blessing" from the godfather. When he reached out to the baptized graduate, the latter received the "benção - benediction" (frontal blow given with the sole of the foot, pushing the opponent to the chest) who threw him to the ground.

It took at least 6 months of training to obtain a diploma from Capoeira Regional. The exam took place on 4 consecutive Sundays, northeast of Amaralina, in the teacher's academy. During 4 days, the students were subjected to certain situations where they had to show the values ​​acquired during the learning phase, such as strength, reflex, flexibility, etc. On the last Sunday, the teacher said if the student was received. Then they taught them new moves and decided on the graduation date.

The graduation

The ceremony began with a round of alumni so that guests and sponsors could see what Capoeira Regional was. Mestre Bimba conducted this round, which was formed by a Berimbau and two tambourines. When the latter was over, the master called the speaker, who was generally an older graduate, to tell a brief story of Capoeira Regional and the master .

After these stories, the master gave the medals to the paranymphs and the blue scarves (Graduation) to the godmothers. The paranymphs placed the medal on the left side of the graduate's chest and the godmothers placed the scarves on the necks of their respective godchildren. Consequently, the graduates demonstrated certain movements at the request of the master to show their competence, in particular the movements of "cintura desprezada", jogo de floreio "and" escrete "which was the game combined with the use of" balls "( type of projections).

Finally, the hour of the "Tire medal" arrived, where, the new graduate, was playing with an old graduate, who was trying to take his medal with a kick. Only then, after having gone through all this, the student could consider himself a graduate student of Mestre Bimba, having the right to play in the round even when the Master was playing the rhythm of "Iuna". Iuna is the rhythm where, today, only the masters play (created by Mr. Bimba himself for this purpose). Consequently, only the specialization course remained.

The specialization course

It lasted 3 months, 2 in the training room and 1 in the woods of the "Chapada do Rio Vermelho". It was a guerrilla formation, where ambushes, traps, etc. took place, which consisted in subjecting the graduate to the most difficult situations. He had to defend himself against 3 or more capoeiristas, even against weapons. After the course, the master made the same party for the new "specialists", and they received the red scarf (a color which represented the new graduation). The graduate or specialized student had the duty to hang a frame with the photo of the master, the godfather, the speaker and himself.

Mestre Bimba was really the big "booster" of Capoeira in Brazil, but many of the methods mentioned above are no longer used, in fact most of them have not been around for a long time, but they were very useful.

"Bimba é Bamba!"

Before Bimba, the struggle was illegal, punishable by the Criminal Code, discriminated against by the bourgeoisie as a thug, a runaway slave. The capoeiristes dreamed of surviving (with a job as a source of income) with this popular demonstration. Bimba broke with this view. He left the functions of coach driver, trapper, carpenter, docker, charcoal burner to embrace capoeira and his most illustrious instrument, the berimbau.

Mestre Bimba thought that capoeira had to be renewed so as not to be swallowed up by foreign struggles. The concern, although at first sight sounding barbaric, was right. To this day, fights like American boxing and Japanese judo circulate in the media, at the Olympic Games, fill stadiums and enrich their athletes, entrepreneurs and sponsors. Constantly fighting for capoeira to be recognized as the legitimate Brazilian martial art, Mestre Bimba created Capoeira Regional, making it a point of honor to call it "Bahian Regional Struggle". Regional capoeira is a less ritualistic style than traditional capoeira, known as Angola.

The blows introduced by Mestre Bimba facilitated self-defense in confrontations with practitioners of other combats, such as imported martial arts, very popular in Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, he challenged all struggles and became the first capoeirista to win a ring competition. That day, the audience cheered, shouting "Bimba é Bamba!".

His death

Tired of the lack of support from the Bahian public authorities and deceived by the promises of his graduate student Oswaldo de Souza, who taught in Goiânia, in January 1973, he moved to this capital, certain of a more dignified life.

Before going to Goiania, Bimba gives the diplomas to his last class. The graduation ceremony was called "formatura do adeus". After this event, he leaves Bahia saying: I will not come back, but here I have not been supported / recognized by the public authorities; If I don't like anything in Goiânia, I will appreciate the cemetery. After he left, he returned to Salvador only twice, and said that everything was fine. But Dona Nair said "that he had been duped and that he was not coming back because he was proud. On February 5, 1974, a year after leaving Bahia, master Bimba died and was buried in Goiania. Move the remains of Goiania in Salvador was difficult, his students thought that his place was in Bahia "the idol does not belong, it belongs to its audience"

On February 15, 1974, at the Hospital das Clinicas de Goiania, Mestre Bimba died of a stroke, unhappy with betrayals, lack of support and financial difficulties.

Mestre Bimba died at the age of 73, without attending the professionalization of capoeira that he helped create. "My father died of sadness, for not having seen the respected capoeira", reveals the son Demerval machado, the Master Formiga.

Bimba fought a great fight against the authorities, but not a fight of flesh or blood, but of dignity and respect towards capoeira and capoeiristes, thus leaving us in heritage:

The survival of capoeira;

The freedom of capoeira;

The professionalization of capoeira;

The capoeira methodology;

The respect of society for capoeira;

In addition, Master Bimba has also highlighted through his own life the disrespect and contempt of the authorities for our culture.


We thank our greatest capoeirista, Mestre Bimba, for letting us inherit capoeira as dance, combat, sport, folklore, lifestyle, etc. Noting that: Bimba has never, during its 56 years of school, injured a student. Bimba made it clear that there should be no fighting to the sound of the berimbau. It would be a lack of respect for principles and the Regional has as one of its pillars, respect for the physical and moral integrity of its members.

Recalling that: Mestre Bimba challenged all the Bahraini capoeirists and fighters of his time and that he won all fights and was only disqualified in one, for having given a "galloping" to his opponent and thus having put the opponent outside the ring. But the main thing to emphasize is that Master Bimba never fought to the sound of the berimbau. Fighting was something for the ring, he said.

The purpose of this study is to present a bit of the history of Mestre Bimba, which we can consider as a historical landmark in the history of Brazilian culture, a turning point, because it is only afterwards that the name of Capoeira Angola has been given, and a movement has been launched to save and preserve Afro-Brazilian culture in all its fields.

It is up to us capoeiristes, capoeira lovers, masters and teachers to disclose, present and fight against existing prejudices, so that we can guarantee future generations the opportunity and the right to preserve the history.

Vidéo - Audio:

Mestre Bimba e seu conjunto Lorenzo Turner 1940:

Mestre Nenel playing Berimbau - Toque Regional:

References :

Various sources on the internet.

CAPOEIRA, Nestor Capoeira: pequeno Manual do Jogador. 8ªed.- Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2006.

CAMPOS, Hélio. Capoeira na Universidade: uma trajectória de resistência. - Salvador: SCT, EDUFBA, 2001. acessado em 08/05/2009, 14:30., acessado em 08/05/2009, 14:35.

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