Come Along to Brazil: Visiting Mestres Fernando ‘Urso’ and Cláudio Danadinho

(Written on November 11, 2011) Doc Pascowitz, the surf legend and health guru, says that not every fit person is healthy, but that every super-healthy person is extremely fit. Game-wise speaking, the visit I paid Mestre Urso, resonates a lot with Doc’s believes. Both Mestre Urso’s and Mestre Danadinho’s young students are a living proof that those who primarily focus on the game as the core foundation of their training become extremely good capoeiras, whereas being trained in drills and mannerism-like techniques doesn’t necessarily brings flow and interactiveness to one’s game. Most of the young capoeiras attending this Roda had at top 2 years of training, but their understanding of the contextual character of the game and of the game itself as a core element guiding one’s practice is sound.

As soon as we arrived Mestre Cláudio Danadinho began leading a class based on variations of Mestre Bimba’s sequence. He didn’t talk much. Instead he started with Mestre Bimba’s 6th sequence knowing that we all would be familiar with it. Soon most pairs, specially the more experienced ones, were executing it quite automatically. By then, again without much talking, he gave us a couple of variations in which both players could end up executing the final strike. At this stage, he warned us that these variations were to be carried on without us pre-establishing who was suppose to strike at any given time.

Sometimes, giving the level of game-reality these variations were bringing to the class, improvisation had to kick in. Some of us in some sequences, for instance, had to use rasteiras instead of negativas to scape each others unexpected attacks otherwise we would be hit. Often someone would complain that his/her partner strike was ‘towards the wrong side of the sequence'; to what Mestre Danadinho would come and say: – ‘First manage to do your esquiva and finish your sequence, than you rationalise what happened!’

Mestre Danadinho also stressed that Mestre Bimba didn’t use to correct every detail of each student or of their sequences, saying that this would ruin their personal style and creativity. A lesson many have forgotten since the ‘Golden Days’ in Bahia. Mestre Danadinho began teaching again over an year ago after decades away from regular classes. But he came back with the sight, experience and opinion of those who had lived Capoeira with Mestres Bimba, Pastinha, Waldemar, etc. and then saw Capoeira’s boom in other Brazilian states already taking the forms we know today. He knows the many pros and cons of today’s approach to Capoeira, and is proving with his students that training can be much more game-oriented than most teachers think today.

One thought on “Come Along to Brazil: Visiting Mestres Fernando ‘Urso’ and Cláudio Danadinho”

  1. I really like that idea of not correcting each part of the sequence – it seems very logical that this has aided his students to develop such a fluid game.

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