Can you learn Capoeira with no Mestre?
A controversial topic as Mestre Ferradura mentions in his video titled “Capoeira sem Mestre” or “Capoeira With No Master”. In our modern capoeira era where many people talk about the importance of respect for tradition and Mestres, Mestre Ferradura talks about the possibility of learning Capoeira without a personal guide who we refer to as “Mestre”. As M. Ferradura mentions, the title of “Mestre” was not something that was given to legendary Capoeiristas like Zumbi dos Palmares, Besouro, and others. These important figures were simply known as experts in Capoeira. The term “Mestre”, however, is associated with figures from the 20th century. Many of the old mestres we think and talk about today were given this title. Some examples are Mestre Bimba, Mestre Pastinha, Mestre Aberrê, and others.
It’s not always clear who were the “mestres” of the mestres I mentioned. Some of course had people in their lives who they refereed to as their teachers in Capoeira, but many others simply trained with some people here and there. One example is Mestre Aberrê, who trained with various Capoeiristas according to the group Gingarte’s own accounts of their Mestre’s heritage.
Mestre Ferradura’s point is that, “Mestre” as a title, is a recent phenomenon from the 20th century, which we can infer as meaning that learning without a single “mestre” may in fact be the traditional way of learning Capoeira.
HOW ELSE TO LEARN CAPOEIRA
Another point that M. Ferradura makes is that Capoeiristas have always looked for ways to teach people in manners other than a group class or a 1 on 1 setting. There have been many books created over the course of the years (including one called “Capoeira Sem Mestre” aka. Capoeira with no Mestre”) created to teach people about Capoeira. Hell, someone even created a DVD to help those without access to a teacher! As happy as I am that DVD’s are no longer a thing, Capoeiristas continue to create ways to teach capoeira to students however they can. Today we have tons of tutorials and other resources online.
CAPOEIRA IN THE YEAR 20XX
I think the point here is that we as a community have so many resources available to us that we should use them to the best of our abilities to grow and educate those who want to learn Capoeira. We’ve had tutorials for a few years now, but that same concept could apply to other things in Capoeira, such as game sense, stylistic approaches, and other more abstract ideas. I’ve personally met tons of people who’ve told me that they tried to learn Capoeira through videos they’ve seen online. So long as people are looking for ways to learn, capoeira lovers /enthusiasts/teachers should be trying to look for ways to assist these people and guide them as best they can.
Maybe some time soon we’ll go through another transformation where there won’t be any “Mestres” in Capoeira, just capoeiristas. It’s not clear, but it’s an interesting discussion to have.