Manuel dos Reis Machado, November 23, 1899 – November 5, 1974, founder of Capoeira Regional, son of Luis Candido Machado – master Bataque and Don Maria Martinha don Bonfim, student of Afrikaner Betinho.
“PASSA BEM OU PASSA MAL, TODO NO MUNDO E UM PASSAR”
“Whether it is good or bad, everything goes away in the world”
Bimba began to train Capoeira as a 12-year-old. His master was African Betinho. During this period, Capoeira was still banned and Capoeristas were prosecuted by the police, severely punished (tortured) and even killed. Bimba felt that Capoeira Angola must change, that the world could know her as a martial art. Using his skills, he modified Capoeira, combining his knowledge of Capoeira Angola with Bataque and creating in 1937. the first academy of Capoeira Regional.
Thanks to Bataque Capoeira Regional, it became faster and stronger. Bimba also created a special form of teaching, thanks to which he could learn Capoeira Regional: sequencias as quickly and simply as possible. Sequencias are a series of exercises that allow you to quickly understand the attack and defense system.
In 1936, Bimba called to fight anyone, regardless of what martial art he trained and what weight he was. There were four fights, the longest of which lasted 1 min. 10 sec – Bimba has won all four. In addition, he became a Champion and won the golden belt. From this period comes the saying: “Bimba ê bamba!”
In 1949, he left with his students to Sao Paulo to fight with opponents representing the skills of other martial arts. Bimba and his students won the majority of these fights by knockout.
On July 23, 1953, Mestre Bimba presented Capoeira at the Presidential Palace in Bahia. Mestre Bimba was the first Capoeristas adopted in the Presidential Palace. The then president, Getulio Vargas, then made Capoeira a Brazilian national sport.
In 1954, Mesrte Bimba received from President Getulio Vargas the title of sports teacher and additionally an honorary title.
Mestre Bimba is known not only for the fact that he is the founder of Capoeira Regional, but also that he largely contributed to the dissemination of Capoeira.
Together with his students, he took part in many fights, and organized various demonstrations throughout Brazil.
In addition, he started the creation of the first Academy, which led to the “transition” of Capoeira from the streets to schools, thanks to which this art was already available to everyone, including women and children.
Regional Capoeira’s Code of Ethics
Previously, it was said that every capoeirista had his own style but Mestre Bimba brought in a training system that consolidated the techniques and refined the art. He also recognised that like other world martial arts, capoeira needed a code of ethics before its reputation could be restored and it could get accepted by people outside the criminal underworld as a part of Brazilian heritage.
This honour code included rules such as;
• No smoking or drinking alcohol.
• Skills should only be demonstrated inside the roda, allowing for the element of surprise should a real fight situation occur. (The roda is a circle formed by people, inside which, practice fights take place)
• When training, the capoeira fighter should focus on the task at hand.
• Talking in the roda should be kept to a minimum
• Other ‘players’ should be watched in a bid to learn more. (In capoeira the term ‘player’ is deemed correct, unlike other martial arts).
• The ginga (the fundamental move in capoeira shown being taught by Bimba below) and other basic capoeira moves should be practiced as often as possible.
• Do not be afraid to get close to your fighting opponent. The more you do this, the more you will learn.
• The capoeira fighter’s body should be kept relaxed.
• It is better to be defeated in the roda than in a real fight situation.
Other Developments Made by Mestre Bimba
Practitioners of the Mestre’s Regional system were (and still are) also expected to be presentable at all times and wear clean, white uniforms with coloured scarfs that indicate rank. He also included choreographed sets of moves and introduced flips, throws and sweeps to the fighting system, giving it its characteristic flamboyancy that sets it apart from the other main type of capoeira of Brazil, the Angola style.
During his early years, being a capoeira fighter was outlawed which made many of the best martial arts experts criminals. Nonetheless, Bimba was known to openly learn and teach capoeira and by around 1928, he was well respected enough to be asked to demonstrate it in front of the President of Brazil, Getulio Vargas (pictured together above).
After witnessing Mestre Bimba’s demonstration, the President was so impressed he made one of the most important decisions in capoeira history and authorized the opening of the first legal capoeira school in 1932 which Bimba named Centro de Cultura Fisica Regional (CCFR).
It was a place where people from all walks of life could go and learn the martial art and this act at once gave capoeira an air of respectability in the public eye and changed its image for ever.
After a demonstration of capoeira in 1974, the mestre was taken to a hospital in Goiania after complaining he felt sick. Soon after, at the age of 74, one of the most significant men in capoeira history died of a brain haemorrhage. His legacy is still felt strongly today in the art and Mestre Bimba is un-arguably one of the most influential people in the history of the martial arts in Brazil.