Our Mestres

Click on the pictures to read about our mestres (masters).

Mestre Cobra Mansa Mestre Jurandir Mestre Valmir Contramestre Rogerio
M. Cobra Mansa M. Jurandir M. Valmir M. Rogerio

Mestre Cobra Mansa

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mestre Cobra Mansa has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to training, teaching, researching, and preserving Capoeira Angola. He began training Capoeira Angola at age 14 and his agility and energetic personality made him a natural. The name Cobra Mansa means “Tame Snake” and he was so named because of the way he moved in the roda. He is thin, quick, agile, and “plays laughing all the time.” His passion was not without purpose, however. Since his early years, he has actively fought against racism and social injustice, using Capoeira as a tool to liberate and educate. He was an active member in the Black Movement in Brazil, and worked with street children as part of the well-known “Projeto Axe.”

cobra_playingIn 1976 he began training with Mestre Moraes, and in 1982 they founded the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) in Salvador. GCAP was the first organization to recognize and attempt to preserve Capoeira Angola, the traditional form of capoeira. At the time, the most popular form of Capoeira was Capoeira Regional, a more flamboyant and less traditional form of Capoeira, and GCAP sought to return to the more ancestral spirit of the art. GCAP students learned the rich history of the art, the movements, the songs, and the instruments. A community that used Capoeira Angola as a vehicle for social change in Brazil was born.

Cobra Mansa has researched all aspects of Capoeira Angola, from its origins in Africa through its turbulent history in Brazil. He has interviewed and videotaped many of the old masters in an effort to accurately understand and document the events leading up to the present. He is now a leading expert, not just on Capoeira, but on the berimbau (the musical bow), the Black Movement, and African martial arts, and holds a bachelors degree in physical education.

In 1994, Cobra Mansa came to Washington D.C. at the invitation of the Ausar Auset Society to teach Capoeira Angola to children. His classes also grew in popularity with adults and a new branch of GCAP was established. In 1995, Cobra brought a large group from the U.S. to Brazil to the First International Capoeira Angola Encounter sponsored by GCAP. This encounter brought together practitioners of Capoeira Angola with the old masters and scholars. The exposure stirred the commitment of many students in Washington to continue this exchange.

In 1996 Mestre Cobra Mansa left GCAP and formed the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) in Washington, D.C. Together with Mestre Jurandir Nascimento and Mestre Valmir Damasceno, he expanded ICAF and has created a Capoeira Angola community with affiliate schools in the United States, Brazil, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has committed much time and energy to nurturing these affiliate groups, especially those that train without a mestre.

In 2004 Mestre Cobra Mansa moved back to Bahia, Brazil and now dedicates much of his time to building a Capoeira cultural arts center in Coutos, Bahia, and managing his organic farm in Valenca, Bahia. He continues to travel throughout the world, teaching and promoting Capoeira Angola.

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Mestre Jurandir

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mestre Jurandir has dedicated his life to the cause and promotion of Capoeira Angola since 1970. He was one of the pioneers of the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP). In 1990, he started the N’GOLO Angola group in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which is presently affiliated with the International Capoeria Angola Foundation (ICAF).

Throughout his career Mestre Jurandir has been a constant presence in the cultural arts scene of the city of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais. He has organized numerous events aimed at promoting Capoeira Angola as an important aspect of Afro-Brazilian culture and history among children and young adults.

jurandir_playingOne of Mestre Jurandir’s principle preoccupations has long been the promotion and teaching of Capoeira Angola to children. Through the art form, he seeks to instill in children not only the mental and physical discipline to perform the complex movements of the game, but also an understanding of the music accompanying the art form and the cultural and historical significance of its lyrics.

Mestre Jurandir has also conducted various workshops at college campuses throughout the United States as part of the ICAF\’s international cultural exchange program and has been instrumental in the formation of ICAF affiliate groups in Austin, Texas, Oakland, California, Seattle, Washington, and Maputo, Mozambique.

Mestre Jurandir now travels back and forth between the United States and Brazil to supervise the foundation’s projects and efforts.

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Mestre Valmir

valmir_playingBorn in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Valmir Santos Damasceno entered the world of Capoeira Angola in 1982 when he began training with the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelorinho (GCAP) under Mestres Moraes and Cobra Mansa.

In 1992, he received the title of Contra-Mestre while working on Capoeira Angola related projects with different social organizations, including the Associacao Livre de Moradores da Mangueira (ALMM), the Fundacao do Menor Trabalhador (FAMEB) and Projeto Axe among others.

In 1994, he left GCAP and began his own group, which later became part of Mestre Cobra Mansa’s International Capoeira Angola Foundation.

In August 2003, he received the title of Mestre at the 9th Annual International Capoeira Angola conference in Belo Horizonte. Mestre Valmir currently lives in Salvador and leads FICA-Salvador, the Brazil Head Branch of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation.

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Mestre Rogerio

rogerio_playingContramestre Rogerio Teber founded the Oakland group of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) in 1997. He is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he studied Capoeira from 1985 to 1996 with Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) under Mestre Manoel Lopes. In 1999, Mestre Manoel gave him the title of Contramestre. Since joining the ICAF in 1997, he has worked closely with Mestre Cobra Mansa, founder of the ICAF, Mestre Jurandir, the leader of the west coast branch and Mestre Valmir, the leader of the Brazilian branch in Bahia. In 2003, he received the title of Contramestre for ICAF by Mestres Jurandir, Cobra Mansa and Valmir.

In 2003 Contramestre Rogerio left Oakland and moved back to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then on to Mexico City, Mexico, from where he now leads the FICA-Rio and FICA-Mexico City groups. He is also responsible for study groups in Copenhagen, Denmark and Tubingen, Germany.

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