• Liberdade, Salvador


    On 19th October of 1987, was launched, by the Decree nº 40, of the Ministry of Education - MEC, through the Secretary of Physical Education and Sport, the National Capoeira Program - PNC.

    With this program various projects related to capoeira were instigated with public funds, including the financing of the activities of non-governmental organizations. According to Lussac (2004), between 1989 and 1992, there was a systematic raise and the realization of inteviews with the most known and respected masters of bahian capoeira, through the Project called Caá-Puera.

    Sammia Castro Silva, 2013

    [..] our main source is the interview he [M Waldemar] recorded 1989 for a project developed by the Ministry of Education, in which I [M Luiz Renato] had the opportunity to participate, together with other capoeiristas and researchers such as Mestre Itapoan and Mestre Ezequiel. On that occasion, Mestre Waldemar, 71 years old [72 or 73 - the mestre made a mistake with the number, as said M Renato - velhosmestres.com] and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, received us in his house with all the kindness and simplicity that characterizes the Bahian people. It was one of the most unique and important moments in my life.

    M Luiz Renato Vieira, translated by Shayna McHugh, source

    Photo gallery (M Waldemar)

    • M Waldemar and M Luiz Renato
      M Waldemar's house
      Liberdade, Salvador, 1989
      M Luiz Renato's collection

    • M Waldemar on the window of his house.
      Prof Cesar (Cesar Augustus S. Barbieri),
      M Itapoan,
      Sérgio (Serjão) Lima de Graça (from SEED*/MEC),
      M Ezequiel,
      M Tabosa,
      Squatting: M Luiz Renato
      Liberdade, Salvador, 1989
      M Luiz Renato's collection

    • M Waldemar's house now and in the past, maybe in the 80-s

    M Waldemar, 1989

    M Waldemar's house, Av. Peixe 34A

    M Waldemar's house

    M Waldemar's interview to M Luiz Renato

    The text

    • page 1


      I never saw anyone play more than me
      Translation by velhosmestres.com

      Mestre Waldemar:

      «I learned capoeia in 1936 in Periperi and my name is Waldemar Rodrigues da Paixão. I had four masters. I asked all of them to teach me and I learned. I always loved this sport of Capoeira Angola alot. in 1940 I started to teach here in Pero Vaz. I had a lot of students and many are still alive. Others have died. The first master to go to Rio de Janeiro was me [in 1953], to Dorival Caymmi's show. Afterwards I had an invitation to go and sing capoeira on Radio Tupi. I was praised alot in Rio de Janeiro and they even wanted me to stay and live there to teach the local masters. But I love Bahia alot and I didn't want to stay there. So I came back to teach and play. Until 1963 I played alot of capoeira, I was very proud of what I knew. Today I'm sick and old, I'm 71 years old. But I never lost to anyone in a capoeira roda.

      I have many friends, like Itapoan. Aristides, João Pequeno, my friends, João Grande and other masters. They give me alot of merit, but I don't have this merit any more, because I'm sick. But I'm known as the "king of the berimbau". I still make them and know how to teach to play.

      Nobody made ruckus with me ever, because I was always respected, nobody ever challenged me. If a master who appeared here challenged me to play I resolved it all with my head. It was a fixed problem. I'm still proud of my throat, of yelling my ladainhas. I sing capoeira angola scowlingly. I haven't found anybody who'd sing better than me. I still haven't. If a woman gave birth to a man, you can't raise one to sing. I made a record for Suassuna, but it didn't come out as I wanted. I wanted to sing capoeira that you would like. So that you could see my voice. Because in capoeira the berimbau rhythm is in the first place and singing in the second. There are many things and I forget, because I have been out of capoeira, I don't enjoy it any more.

      I had four mestres: Siri de Mangue, one; Canário Pardo, two; Talavi, three, and Ricardo from Ilha de Maré, four. So I asked these men to teach me so I could become professional. So that I could say I knew it, and I do. I studied capoeira. Capoeira I know alot. The only thing I didn't learn is ti make a boy with two heads.

      Firstly a good berimbau playing. Three berimbaus: a berra-boi, a viola and a gunga. Later, with this new fashion, the atabaque appeared, but there used to be three pandeiros, three berimbaus and a reco-reco. And the instrument that accompanies the berimbau, to help the berimbau, the caxixi and there was the agogô. Afterwards they added the atabaque to the capoeira roda, but it wasn't there before.

      Another thing - this berimbau painting was invented by me. The berimbau used to be with bark. The capoeiristas here, the masters, made the berimbau with bark. The wire was a fence wire, it wasn't steel wire. Afterwards they burnt the tyre and pulled out the rusty wire and it broke. I invented opening it with force to get it crude. I started to make varnished berimbaus. I started to make white berimbaus, like Tabosa will be taking with him here [see the photo above]. Later I invented painting them and started to make painted berimbaus. I'm known for this.

      The roda in Liberdade was out in the open, close to the grove. I made a roda in the shade and put the guys to play there. Later I made a hut out of large straws and every capoeirista of Bahia came to my hut. I was praised alot by Carybé, Mário Cravo, Odorico Tavares, all of these people sought for me there. One day, the first book about me was published called "Recôncavo brasileiro", that Carybé wrote together with Mário Cravo [in 1951]. From then on I started to gain fame. In Rio de Janeiro I stayed in the hotel when Dorival Caymmi called me to sing in radio Tupy, so that I would sing a praise to Rio. I sat on the bed, my students were sleeping, I studied and the second day I sang a beautiful ladainha. I was praised quite a bit. There are other thins, but I forget...

      Zacarias was my student from 1942. Others were José Cabelo Bom, a black guy called Nagé - they hired five guys to kill him. I had a student who played the berimbau only, but he was good, called Pernambuco. I have two good students. They are still good. And Cabelo Bom is the uncle of this boy that I'm teaching. But he doesn't want to learn to play. Only wants to play the berimbau.

    • +

      page 2

      In my rodas I didn't have any ruckus because when I arrived, having my beer, when I sang, the boys all came to surrender their obedience. They respected me alot, my students. And there was no ruckus, because I would look at them like this, and they would come to my feet and nobody fought. (...)

      The secret of the tough nuts was a short shirt with the stomach hanging out and the pants with the mouth called the bell-mouth, that covered the tip of the shoe. This was a tough man. They used weapons, but when they went to a bar they asked to put away the weapons. Straight razor and the two-edge knives.

      There were some who used the straight razor and played with the hat on. They bought a hat from a shop, and didn't make a zic-zac on top or anything. They way the hats were they used them. The hat had a canoe shape, the top round, and there was a straight razor attached to it with a rubber strip. I played with the hat on, but I didn't use anything. I didn't want to use these things. I always wanted to stay out of the mess, of the ruckus (...) This principle I've kept until today. Everybody appreciates me, everybody likes me. They come here from all over, there's nobody who talks bad about me, about anything. I know how to treat everybody well, I don't treat anyone badly.

      Who made Traíra ready was me. He spent eleven years and six months in jail, he was an assassin. He killed a man because of a woman. When he got out he came to see me. I was having a capoeira roda, for the occasion when Otávio Mangabeira was running for the Bahian government [in 1947]. He [Traíra] befriended me and said I should make him ready, so I did. He played alot. He was a serpent on the ground.

      I didn't see anyone play more than me. But I'll tell you the names of some who've already died: Barbosa, Onça Preta - this one is in Rio, old, but alive - Eutíquio, Gato Preto's father, Daniel played capoeira, but not only. Maré was only waiting for kicks, played capoeira, but only knew how to play capoeira, didn't play the berimbau, didn't sing, didn't do anything. Samuel Querido de Deus was good, but he only waited for the kicks too. Only played the game. He was waiting you to jump so he could give a headbutt. When you wanted to play for real he didn't want to play any more. He was a crocodile.

      I lived in Periperi and one of my brothers, who had a stroke, called Homem Mau, but named Lourival Rodrigues da Paixão, lives in Plataforma, he's alive, hasn't died. So he said: "My friend - I was sad because coming here, I didn't know anybody", so he said - "there's a capoeira on Estica on Tanque Square". So I arrived, I went there with a good berimbau, and my brother told them to let me play it and sing a little. And Pastinha was strong still, but he wasn't a capoeira master. He was the president of capoeira. The master of the deceased Pastinha was called Aberrê, a black guy. When Aberrê died suddenly, of a heart failure, capoeira was full of masters, I asked him on day: "Pastinha, who are you going to set up as a master?" He said: "Waldemar, there's no master here. Everybody will be a master". And I said him that he had to set up a good master to put in capoeira. And I was already mastering capoeira in Liberdade. He always invited me to go there. He said: "There are many masters, but I'll tell you the truth: the master will be me". He was a capoeira president. The proof is that he didn't play the berimbau, he didn't. He was a wall painter. He died and left behind students better then himself.

      He was considered a capoeira president. So there stayed João Pequeno, João Grande, they are good. Pastinha was faulty. You went to his roda, you went there regularly, and he said you were his student. I never had this fault and don't have now. If I'd say "that's my student", it's because I taught him and can teach...

      The capoeira president is the one who, when there's a trip, puts together that group. If there's a need to buy the shirts, he takes care of this. It's different. He took care of all these things. He went to Rio and São Paulo and made his money. When the students asked for some, he would say "you get nothing". "Didn't you get shoes, didn't you fly on a plane, didn't you sleep in a hotel, didn't you eat well, aren't you learning?" He didn't give anything to them. And me, everything I earned I divided with my students.

      And when I was drinking beer, and we got this money in a roda, I told the judge who stayed changing the pairs of guys with the whistle: "Divide this between yourselves, have a drink, do what you want. I don't want any ruckus". Later I got my woman and went to the movies.

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      page 3

      The deceasd Traíra took care of the roda. I went there, gave my order and went to have a beer. I was made.

      I liked playing slowly, to know what I'm doing. You understand this from my singing. I sing to any guy to play, and he plays without fault. To my students I say that I will sing and they already know what I want: São Bento Pequeno. It's my first rhythm. To the second berimbau player I say: "from up to down", and he knows it's São Bento Grande. To viola I say: "ring out", and he makes the viola cry.

      When someone grasped me, I said: don't grab me, I'm not a towel. Don't make stains on me. I played with white clothers, shoes as white as milk. Pants of shaking linen. I only stained my fingers, I jumped, wanted to do something and it happened. But everything in this world ends, except the love of God.

      And I taught in the roda, but I also had the training days. They were playing and I gave a signal to make a tesoura, I signalled to whip. I gave a signal for the other one to lower himself...

      The kick I liked the most was rabo de arraia. In the game, when you see that you will hit someone, you pull back. See, I gave a rabo de arraia to Caiçara, in an anniversary... This was many years ago, he was with his roda and I took mine there. I gave a rabo de arraia to Caiçara, if he doesn't kick with that belly of his I snatched his neck with my shoe. My shoes were white, two fingers of rubber. I gave him a rabo de arraia... Made of full leather, strong shoes, good. And another thing, Caiçara wherever I am he respects me. He says when I sing he gets goosebumps.

      The deceased Aberrê sang alot. I found a good capoeira singer here, we faced each-other. He had the same voice I have. The people even said he looked like me, the deceased Barbosa, from Cabeça. He sang alot, played the berimbau alot and played capoeira alot. From Cachoeira. He was a good master.

      When someone is playing to hurt the other, the judge doesn't let him, imitating the ball game. The judge takes care of the roda, changes the pairs, when someone is playing violently, he separates him, if he doesn't obey he removed him from the roda. The master doesn't get involved in this. The master is the one who is teaching the whole group.»

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