Age and a Coronary Haven't Made Pastinha Leave Capoeira
O Globo. Rio de Janeiro, 12th December 1966
„Man's weapons are what God gave him, arms and legs. If, sometimes, the legs serve for running away from the stronger enemy, they can also knock him down [..]". It was Pastinha, capoeira mestre who [..] doesn't know in the old Salvador - from the lineage [..] Bimba, another, who, old, won't reject a challenge - [..] out of this life principle made a means to live.
Now, 77 years old, he doesn't fight for an exhibition no more; he is retiring, but promises to return, because the coronary that he had was only "a cloud that passed over the eyes and everything will get better". He is still going to Pelourinho every day, to see his Academy work, which he wants with big letters - capoeira school and a tourist attraction which is compulsory to who visits Bahia. He watches the classes that are given by an ex-student of his, one of the good ones, he says, but someone who the younger ones don't want to accept as a substitute for Pastinha, because there is no-one as good as he is.
The First Time
In the Rio Vermelho de Baixo, where he lives, he says, in his "residential academy", he still teaches his children and grandchildren to fight capoeira, but little-by-little, sitting frequently, to feel longing.
Longing for the time when two policemen tried - he doesn't remember why -, to arrest Mestre Bimba, without knowing that it was Mestre Bimba that they tried to arrest. Bimba said them he didn't see a man to take him away, the policemen attacked him with nightsticks and were taken down. Four more came to help and they attacked again and again they ended up on the floor. It was then that he, Pastinha, arrived and said: "Mestre Bimba, leave the boys alone." And the policemen, only then, knew who they tried to arrest. And Pastinha tells that they all went to the police station, so that the policemen wouldn't feel demoralized, but the police chief right away called for the two policemen that started the incident and Bimba was freed - the chief had been Bimba's student.
From Pastiña to Pastinha
On 5th April 1889, on Tijolo Street, was born the best capoeirista of Bahia, and two months later was taken to a font to receive the name of Vicente. Vicente Ferreira Pastiña, because his father was of Spanish origin.
A mischivous boy started to get a beating at ten years old. He got beaten by Honorato, every time he went to the grocery store. It was there that Benedito, an old african, seeing Vicente get a beating from Honorato, asked if he wanted to learn to fight capoeira. He did. And every day he went to the old man's house; learning, until one day Benedito said to him: "Today you will go to the grocery store and wait for Honorato to provoke you". It was then that Honorato got a beating which was a beauty, he all weak beating a stronger boy.
– That night – tells Pastinha –, Honorato's father came to his home to complain his son with him. The old Pastinha only said: "I already knew about the thrashings that your son gave to mine. I knew that Vicente was learning capoeira and I liked it. What I can do is advise you to put your son to learn capoeira too."
– Honorato's father didn't believe and wanted to see me. My father called me. Honorato's father thought I was too weak, asked for my father to see a demonstration. I gave a rabo-de-arraia so hard, that Honorato was on the floor, lights out. The two old men became friends and me and Honorato never faught again.
Angola in Dreams
In 1902, Vicente Ferreira Pastiña entered the Apprentice-School for Sailors and stayed there, teaching capoeira to friends and colleagues, until 1910. That time learned the painter's profession, worked alot, but already then wanted to open his capoeira school. "I wanted to show the men that the ones walking around armed are weak", he said.
Finally he managed to realize his dream: he set up the academy, of which he is very proud, in Pelourinho. Pastinha, with nh, became his fighting name.
Mestre Pastinha, who already showed himself in Pôrto Alegre, São Paulo, Guanabara and Brasília, even went to Belgian Congo to give demonstrations. He thinks, however, that they don't fight a real capoeira there, which is an Angolan fight. Incidentally, his dream is to take a brazilian group to Angola, certain that they would do good. He says: - "Football came from England and we are much better than the englishmen".
But Pastinha is sick and in misery beats on his door. Sick, but optimist, and a dreamer:
– I had a coronary, but am already going ginga again, and I already show the boys how to fall, if you give a rasteira and you put the foot in adversary's face, despite my 77 years. A cloud passed by, but it's already going away. If God gives, I'd still be going to Angola.
Photo: Pastinha only fulfils himself totally if he could make brazilian fighters face the ones of Angola, where capoeira was born
The Judge's Enemy
Débora is Pastinha's companion. Six years ago he gave her a „rasteira“.
– When I was a boy - tells Pastinha -, I could never live alone, there was always someone who would look after my clothes. My weak point were the morenas. I had many and I don't know how many children I have. I know that the house is full of many grandchildren and once in a while a son or a daughter knocks on my door to show me a grandchild that needs to play capoeira too.
– But I never wanted any business with the Justice of the peace - explains the capoeira mestre -, I was always fighting with them. The marriage with a document was never for me.
Débora interferes and tells how Pastinha conquered her, sending her cards with hearts pierced with arrows. And with tenderness, says:
– He's already talking about getting married and says that he will pay dearly for what he did with others: he will climb the stairs of Forum Rui Barbosa.
Pastinha, surrounded by grandchildren, agrees:
– From all, she was the best. My legs are getting better and I will really climb the Forum stairs.
He then turns to the reporter and asks:
– Want to do me a favor? Take a photo of us two together and show to the reader of O GLOBO. Tell them that marriage only after 77 years.