Master of Capoeira Angola

Vicente Ferreira Pastinha, son of José Señor Pastinha, a Spaniard and Eugênia Maria de Carvalho a Brazilian woman of African descent was born on April 5th, 1889 in Salvador-BA, Brazil. Mestre Pastinha was exposed to Capoeira at the tender age of 8 by an African named Benedito.

Mestre Pastinha had a happy and modest childhood. During the mornings he would take art classes at the Liceu de Artes e Ofício school where he learned to paint, during the afternoons he would play with kites and practice Capoeira. He continued his training with Benedito for three more years. He later joined a sailor school by his fathers wish, which would not support the Capoeira practice. At the school, he used to teach Capoeira to his friends. At the age of 21, he left the sailor school to become a professional painter. Since it was still illegal at that time, he would secretly practice Capoeira during his spare time.

Mestre Pastinha was an extraordinary character. He was innovative, wise and open-minded. In 1942, Pastinha founded the first Angola school, the “Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola”(The Sport Centre of Capoeira Angola), located at the Pelourinho. His students would wear black pants and yellow t-shirts, the same colour as the “Ypiranga Futebol Clube”, his favourite soccer team.

In 1964 Pastinha published his own book, Capoeira Angola. Capoeira Angola was characterized by: a high degree of combat simulation in which the mere suggestion of an attack should be acknowledged; a focus on rituals, strategy and tactics of the game; and an emphasis on playfulness and theatrics of the movement.

Pastinha worked as shoe shiner, tailor, gold prospector, security guard (leão de chácara) at a gambling house (casa de jogo) and construction worker at the “Porto de Salvador” to maintain him financially so he could do what he loved the most, be an Angoleiro.

He dedicated his entire life to Capoeira Angola, but in the end felt betrayed by local authorities and their endless false promises and with no support, Pastinha was left abandoned in a city shelter. By 1973, the aged Pastinha had lost his sight but according to his friend, the well known Brazilian writer, Jorge Amado, he remained lucid until his final days. On April 12th, 1981, he played his last Capoeira game. On November 13th, 1981, blind and very sick, at the age of 92, Mestre Pastinha, the father and protector of Capoeira Angola, died.