Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Capoeria - Bahia to Bumbahia (Mumbai)

I learned about Capoeira during the summer of 2008, when the olympic games were on in Beijing. My friend who had moved to Mumbai post his engineering studies, was down in Bangalore to meet his family. Back in Mumbai he had enrolled for classes under Instructor (Instrutor) Reza Baba Massah who taught Capoeira under the umbrella of Cardao De Ouro (The Belt of Gold) school. He showed me some cool images and videos on his Nokia N 72 and it immediately caught my attention. This was definitely more than b-boying or hip hop dancing. Capoeira is a way of life!

Mestre Edan and Primo CDO in action

Over the next few years while my friend Arun, well known as Zorro in the Capoeira world, went from strength to strength by graduating from one belt to another and from one rank to the next, I made several visits to Mumbai to study this art in my own way. I chose to photograph these martial artists in all their glory. Due to lack of any such school in Bangalore, the desire to learn Capoeira still remains. As a last ditch effort, I currently look up youtube videos and practice. But that burning desire to relocate to Mumbai and plunge into the Capoeira world remains.

Opening Ceremony of CDO Israel's 20th Anniversary

Capoeira is very kind to its students. Them students not only learn the art of self defense and in the process end up with greek God like bodies, but also pick up skills in music, public speaking etc. Outside the roda (a human chain in a circular form where the Capoeristas duel), it's a very friendly world and one ends up meeting people from several countries. And this is facilitated by the endless opportunities of travel. For an example, Zorro has now travelled to Israel and Brazil for Capoeira, two countries which are totally off the beaten track for a common Indian tourist. And needless to say Zorro now has friends from the four corners of the world!



Mestre Cabello and Mestre Casquinha playing a game of Angola

Mestre Cabello balancing himself on his head

I finally got the opportunity to travel with the Capoeira group this June, when I was invited to be the traveling Photographer of the group. CDO Mumbai was participating in CDO Israel's 20th anniversary and the event promised to be an epic. And as expected, Israel just blew us away with the show that they put up. International Capoeira Mestres like Mestre Cabello, Mestre Casquinha, Mestre Cueca and Mestre Edan, who have dedicated their lives for the teaching and propagation of Capoeira, were in attendance and just seeing these greats in flesh was so enriching. To put into context, these guys are on par with the Zidanes and the Peles and the Maradonas of the soccer world.

Mestre Cueca with Mestre Cabello

It is a common practice in Capoeira to christen a student with a Portuguese name which usually matches his/her character trait. This apellido or nick name becomes the primary name of the Capoeristas and stays with them for the rest of their lives. And thus Tartaruga Ninja was born! Mestre Cueca was having difficulty in pronouncing my name right from day one and took it upon himself to  give me my new name. After observing me for three days, he finally decided to call me Tartaruga Ninja i.e. Ninja Turtle in Portuguese. The sole reason being my camera backpack (which resembled a turtle shell), I kept lugging around everywhere I went! I was over the moon!

CDO Mumbai with Mestre Cabello
Standing from L to R: Baqueta, M Cabello, Reza Baba, Ratinho, Cavalo, Mel, Boneca and Cabeca
Sitting from L to R: Piolho, Makako, Berinjela, Gata and Bom Bom 

With this I am now part of the family and like all responsible members of the family, the onus is upon me now to carry the torch  further! Viva Capoeira! 


  1. good job as a photographer too!

  2. Thanks for all the hard work. Appreciate the brushes, which are very well done. Keep up the good work.
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