BAHIAN CAPOEIRISTAS – MESTRE PASTINHA
Distrustful, short and agile, mestre Pastinha is the oldest Bahian capoeirista. He was born in Salvador on 5th April 1889. Already seventy years old he plays capoeira with the same liveliness of his disciples. Vicente F. Pastinha, mulatto, chatty guy and friendly, runs the Capoeira Angola Sport Centre, situated on the Pelourinho hillside, 19, in a wide room of a magnificient and historical building, together with the Rosário dos Pretos church. Who goes to Bahia can't go without watching, on Sunday afternoons, the mestre and his boys there playing. The capoeira-angola is the most beautiful and difficult of the defensive fights. In the room it's like a ballet. A ballet full of violent rhythms. Because the Capoeira is a fight disguised in a dance. In a dance full of mimics (like the indian one) and of kicks premeditated like the sharpness of africans. In the barbarous music of the berimbaus (the berimbau is the soul of capoeira, every rhythm depends of its tune) that sound with the caxixis accompanied by rattles, pandeiros and reco-recos, they give a start to the fight-dance. The spectators then are not amazed to hear, in the silence of the handclaps, the agôgôs and violas - a crackle of castanets. It's an innovation in mestre Pastinha's capoeira. A descendant of an african and a Spanish father, he gave to capoeira Angola this graciousness in his playtimes. All his disciples play, fight and sing. In this is a capoeirista complete. He owes his mastery to the african Cosme*, with whom he learned at 10 years of age (as during the times of his mestre he continues to be fast, crafty and sly - indispensable things to the fight). Later he went to the Marines. He always had in mind the teachings of mestre Cosme*. A painter by profession, a designer and of such ability that the great sculptor Mário Cravo invited him to a sculpture course. But, he is a mestre of capoeira. Of rabos de arraias, of bênçãos and aús. When he has nothing to do, he stands on the door of the Cadete Groceries, in Taboão, in front of the Pelourinho, discussing, remembering his exploits and companions, remembering the greatest of his students, who was Abêrrê. The mestre has a habit, when he speaks, to interrogate - have you read it yet? A conversation with the same mimics that he plays capoeira. He is the author of various notebooks of teaching, notations and designs. In one of them you can read an advice such as this: «we have defences while sitting, laying, leaning and in difficult positions. When you are calmer it is better to attend to your agility». Mestre Pastinha is like this. A convicted capoeirista. He says that the main thing of capoeira is the headbutt. As capoeira is in the head, he is the absolute master in the subject and really good and able in headbutts.
There he is, attentive and firm, looking his boys playing. They are squatting and waiting for the song before the start of the game. Standing, one of bateria, the lead singer pulls a tune. They ask for divine protection. They cross themselves. And one of them begins his improvising. And the disciple sings. It is a provisional capoeira song:
Now I'm singing
singing and giving praise
Long live Vicente Pastinha
The mestre who taught me
known as the teacher
in the capital of Salvador
Camaradinho é… camará…
* M Pastinha's mestre was african Benedito, we don't have information about african Cosme.