What is Capoeira? Capoeira is an art form that combines the elements of fight, dance and game. Originating from Brazil, it has taken the Western world by storm in recent years. Ironically, Capoeira was created by the underdogs of colonial Brazil - the slaves - who used innovative yet natural and flowing body movements to overcome their cruel slave masters.
According to Mestre Pintor, Capoeira is unique because it is not a martial art technically. In terms of its historical roots, it is firmly anti-establishment. This translates to an “overcoming the odds” quality about Capoeira which often draws not just the athletic but often the “underdogs” from various walks of life that often realise their true potential through working harder than their physically fit counterparts to perfect their form and skill. The results are often surprising to themselves and others.
Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why Capoeira is flourishing around the world.
At its basic nature, it allows people work at overcoming their physical and mental limitations. Its unique and graceful movements have defied categorisation such that it cannot be strictly pigeonholed as a sport, combat art or a performing art per se (leaving authorities very befuddled when trying to define it). Yet this 300-year-old tradition is instrumental in giving birth to one of pop culture’s greatest phenomenon: breakdancing. Inspired from Capoeira’s stylistic movements, break dance moves are embellished and modified accordingly, resulting in the breath taking results we are so familiar with today.
Other than being classified as a Brazilian dance, Capoeira is also a street game. So it is not surprising to find Capoeiristas playing Capoeira on the sidewalk or at street corners.
Onlookers witnessing a street roda (pronounced as “hor-dah”) meaning “circle” may think that the two capoeiristas are duelling, fighting or dancing.
They are right. And they are also wrong.
They are witnessing a game of chess, an elegant display of physical and mental prowess, where players strategise their games, outwitting each other with only the movement of their bodies.
Capoeira movements are at their most elegant and powerful when two seasoned capoeiristas jogar (play) within the roda, weaving their movements into a tapestry made of counterattacks, takedowns, floreios (flourishes) and acrobatic tricks with wit and cunning. It is as much collaboration as a competition.
All of this is done to the rhythm of the berimbau that dictates the speed and style of the game. The berimbau is usually accompanied by the pandeiro and atabaque.
it is actually de rigueur for a capoeirista to learn how to play all the instruments in a bateria because without music, there is no Capoeira or roda. Students are further trained to not only listen to the natural rhythms of their bodies but to play and mentally gather positive energy from the traditional music of Capoeira, whose rhythms dictate the flow of games and passes on generations of Capoeira stories.
Most newcomers learning Capoeira naturally aspire to fly, jump or kick, taking their cues from the portraying of numerous Capoeira fights in today’s action movies. However, these are not the most challenging parts of Capoeira. The hardest movement to master is actually the ginga (which literally means “swing”).
This is also the first move that all students of this art form will learn. Unless you learn to flow with the rhythm, you cannot hope to play good capoeira.
The ginga is the only move that distinguishes Capoeira from other combat arts because in moving to a rhythm, whether internal or external, a Capoeirista finds his or her equilibrium and flow. The ginga also gives Capoeira an identifiable Brazilian character because the swing of the waist and hips come most naturally to a Brazilian - Brasileiro sem jogo de cintura, não é brasileiro.
Grupo Bantus Capoeira was founded by Mestre Pintor in 1991 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Mestre Pintor has over 40 years experience in capoeira, and was taught by the world famous Mestre João Pequeno.
Paulo Cesar Leite dos Santos, or Mestre Pintor as he is known within Capoeira circles, is the master of Grupo Bantus Capoeira in Brazil. He started playing around with Capoeira on the streets as a teenager. Later he trained in Belo Horizonte and then Bahia with various masters, chasing after knowledge of Capoeira, before coming to rest in the academy of Mestre João Pequeno of Pastinha in Salvador, Bahia. He graduated as a master in 1989 with the group of Macaco at the Escola de Educacao Fisica in Belo Horizonte, and after a few more years training with Mestre João Pequeno also graduated as a master of Capoeira Angola.
The year 2012 is a milestone for Mestre Pintor because he has been a mestre of Capoeira for 23 years! After establishing his school on 2 February 1991, Mestre Pintor (Paulo César Leite dos Santos) has been busy developing activities involving Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian culture on his home turf in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Currently, Mestre Pintor resides in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, with his wife and daughter.
Contra Mestre Claudinho has been learning capoeira since the age of 13 with Mestre Pintor of Bantus Capoeira in Belo Horizonte, Brazil since he first stumbled onto a class conducted by Mestre Pintor in his favela. At 18, he became an instructor and has taught and conducted workshops in Brazil, Israel and Germany. In 2005, when Bantus Capoeira Singapore was incorporated, Claudinho was sent by Mestre Pintor to lead his new school.
Since then, Claudinho has also given workshops and performed in Australia and Malaysia. In August 2006, Claudinho was promoted from the rank of Instrutor to Graduado and conferred his Cordao Azul (a blue cord) to signify his new rank. On 29 August 2009, Claudinho was promoted not once but twice at the 19th Festival Bantus Capoeira back in Belo Horizonte, becoming Professor Claudinho.
Recently, at Bantus Singapore’s 5th Annual Batizado & Troca de Corda Festival on 30 October 2010, Mestre Pintor sprang a surprise on everyone by according Claudinho with the corda for Contra Mestre. This is highest ranking belt level before a capoeirista attains the level of a Master (mestre). Currently, Claudinho is one of the three contra-mestres of Bantus Capoeira worldwide and he is the only one who is working outside Brazil.
The name Bantus refers to a broad African ethnic group, the Bantu people, who shared a similar language root and occupied two thirds of Western & Southern Africa (Angola, Guinea, Congo, Mozambique etc). The term Bantu refers to over 400 different ethnic groups from these African regions. –NTU means “human” and BA- indicates a plural, put together it means “people”.
Established in 2005, Bantus Capoeira Singapore formed to develop, perform and promote Capoeira and its associated forms of Afro-Brazilian culture here in Singapore.
Our mission is to promote and educate the public on these art forms, in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For all of us at Bantus Capoeira Singapore, Capoeira is not just an art; it’s a way of life. We are part of a global network of schools founded by Mestre Pintor in 1991. Here in Singapore, other than private classes, we also offer Capoeira class for schools that express interest in the wonderful world of Capoeira and its culture.
At Grupo Bantus Capoeira (GBC), all our classes are fun and cater to all levels (including first-timers!) so that anyone can simply walk into a class and benefit from the training.
Capoeira for Beginners and Seniors Alike
At Bantus Capoeira Singapore, our students learn Capoeira Regional, Capoeira Angola (for senior students), Maculele (a traditional stick fight dance), Samba de Roda and Forró (a traditional Brazilian folkdance extremely popular among both the young and old in Brazil).
Our aims are to:
However, the best thing about being in Bantus is belonging to the worldwide family of Grupo Bantus Capoeira that now has branches across Brazil, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia & Thailand.