Mestre Marcelo was a student of Mestre Suassuna, who is the co-founder of “Associacao de Capoeira Cordão de Ouro” known today as CDO. Back in the 80s when a student graduated in capoeira he/she was not allowed to use the name of their mestre’s group. This was a mandatory tradition that only started to change by the early 90s. All 15 graduated students of mestre Suassuna from the mestre Marcelo’s turma* had to come up with their on school names (see their academy names below). In 1984, Mestre Marcelo left Brazil and settled in the United States, bringing with him the rich art-form of capoeira; at that time he was one of only three people teaching in the US. Since then mestre Marcelo’s Oakland-based group branched out throughout the US and the world: New Zealand, Israel, China, Taiwan, Japan and of course Brazil.
Marcelo was asked by the publisher of a capoeira magazine, “What makes any particular capoeira game beautiful? From your perspective as a mestre and as someone who loves the game of capoeira, what elements do you want to see in a game of capoeira? When do you realize that the players are connecting on a different level?”
He replied, “The dialogue between players can start from a very simple repertoire of movements, kicks and escapes to a much larger and complex vocabulary that may include even floreios**, body expression and perception of the game. Just a small vocabulary is enough to establish a connection that can clearly define the harmony of the two players, creating what we call a dialogue.
“The body expression involves knowing when to throw in the game that spice that enriches the moment. These body expressions are often a theatrical drama done by making funny movements or fakes that either imitates or remind us of things like an animal, a clown or anything that makes the player or the opponent look like a fool. This action adds to the game an element of humor which is an important, but almost forgotten aspect of capoeira.
“Honesty, integrity and respect towards each other involves a bunch of things; for example: Knowing when you got caught by your opponent’s attack or trap and respecting that moment without taking advantage of it or ignoring it as a non threatening action. Also knowing how to control your kicks and strikes in a way that you don’t have to hit someone to prove your efficiency. When capoeiristas have the awareness mentioned above they will allow a certain flow in the game that can induce an incredible dialogue and perhaps even a trance like state.
“Let’s not think that some level of aggression will make the game ugly! Sometimes the players mutually agree that they want the challenge of a more aggressive game and still are able to maintain a good level of etiquette; where respect, dialogue and expression are present. It is up to the person judging that game to have enough vision to identify that such level of aggression was accepted by both players and that it did not hurt any of the principals of good etiquette and camaraderie. Only with such perception and vision that person can have a true opinion if a particular game was beautiful or not.
“The joy of the game is when all of the above is happening together with a great music being played by the capoeira orchestra and the players are able to recognize the non-threatening yet efficient power of the capoeira game. This state usually leads the players to a trance like state that can not be described by words. It is, however, possible to see when two capoeiristas enter that state.
“In short my answer to you is, a game is considered beautiful when played with the heart; when players have respect to each other and to the rituals, tradition and etiquette of the art. I would love to see capoeira gaining back the element of body expression, sense of humor and integrity. I realize that the players are connecting on a different level by the feeling I get from them when they are playing and radiating a sense of joy.”
* Turma is the name of a capoeira group of people that train together for a certain period of time.
** Floreios are intriguing acrobatic capoeira moves.
The mestres and schools of some graduated students from the Cordão de Ouro turma of 1980.
Mestre Biriba – Associação de Capoeira Cais Dourado
Mestre Geraldinnho – Associação de Capoeira Santa Maria
Mestre Marcelo – Capoeira Mandinga
Mestre Quebrinha – Associação de Capoeira Ginga Brasil
Mestre Risadinha (aka mestre Zambi) – Associação de Capoeira Filhos de Zambi
All of us from this and other later generation of graduated students are still part of the Codão de Ouro family and are in fact some of the very few last capoeiristas that really took classes from mestre Suassuna. Today many of the CDO groups are capoeiristas that affiliated with the group out of admiration for the group but in truth have not been students of mestre Suassuna or any of his direct students.
If you would like Mestre Marcelo to make an appearance at your event, please email him directly.