This is the second post of the series on Mestre Suassuna’s life. It approaches his first trips to Salvador, contacts with other Mestres, and early take on Capoeira teaching in Itabuna.
These posts on Mestre Suassuna’s life were translated (by me) from the chapter “Reynaldo Ramos Suassuna. Mestre Suassuna by himself” in Mestre Deputado’s book “Menino Quem foi teu Mestre?”(2004).
Mestre Suassuna’s statements can be taken as an example to help us reflect upon the early cultural context of Capoeira in Bahia, the beginning of the groups with the folkloric troupes, inter-group and inter-style interaction, and the first spreading of Capoeira from Bahia to Brazil.
Reynaldo Ramos Suassuna
Mestre Suassuna, by himself!
“One of my friends went study in Salvador. I went with him and we got into Mestre Bimba’s academy. They gave up, but I started to participate. Participate, but very indifferent. I was that student who would come and go without much communication. But I had my goal, that was to set things right with Zé Laitima.
Vacations would come along and I would spent 3 months here, 3 months there… I wasn’t a very frequent student in Mestre Bimba’s academy. I would go in and out, pay my fees without attending class, but would always train. I used to train a lot at home. And I was developing, developing, until one day I beat him up. There was a big applause, all that thing. People would say: “- Come with me, lets go there, lets have a beer.” And that filled me with vanity, you see? I thought to myself “Now I´m cool”. There I would be the first one to arrive in the academy, always training, developing. After a few months I started to work with exhibitions: I was very good in jumps, I had this huge skill.
In Ilhéus and Itabuna, at that time, I became the best of the region, in terms of show, everything. Then I stated to train for real, but I did trained a lot. Work and train. In Bahia there is this story of closing the shops for lunch. In this break, once I lived close by, I would go home and train for one hour. I trained every day. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, even in the school breaks I used to train. My folks at home thought that I was going crazy. In the living-room I used to keep kicking over the chairs, putting my feet over the table, kicking the avocado tree, kicking meia lua here, meia lua there. I had a dog and I would do aú over him, he would come and I would trick him with enthusiasm. My mother even got to think that I needed a doctor.
I continued to develop myself, travelling to Salvador, people would invite me to work with exhibitions with Canjiquinha; I begun teaching, would leave Mestre Bimba’s academy and go to Itabuna, where I opened a sort of small academy. I was still a bit weak in Capoeira, but I had that fight keenness, fast, in that time I begun my first group, in a soccer field. I had some 4 or 5 guys that I begun teaching. It was a very good group, they liked to fight, so I taught them. Our goal was to fight. We would leave the academy and set: “- Look, we’ll go in such place, a party. There you’ll have to fight, if you don’t do as I say, I’ll dismiss all of you (and I didn’t charge for classes). Well then, we would arrive in a party and chase trouble and the Capoeira would resume”. Sometimes I would say something like this: “- I’ll hit someone’s shoulder, and that’s the guy you’ll have to fight.” And then I would pick a brave bloke, youngster too, hit his shoulder and start the fight.”
To be continued…
Souza, W. (2004) Menino Quem foi Teu Mestre?. Ed. Independente.