Mestre Bimba is a legendary capoeira mestre, or teacher, who is credited with having reinvigorated capoeira, brought the game to a wider audience, and started the first modern capoeira schools. Today, Mestre Bimba's legacy lives on in capoeira schools throughout the world. Although some schools adhere to Bimba's principles and techniques more rigidly and seriously than others, almost all capoeiristas (people who play capoeira) are familiar with them.
Mestre Bimba's Sequencias
One of the most important contributions Mestre Bimba made to the practice of capoeira was his eight sequences, or sequencias in Portuguese. The sequences are practice routines made up of attacks, defenses, and counterattacks. In a traditional game of capoeira, the two players do not know what the other will do, and the game consists in trying to anticipate the movements of others and gain an advantage through strategy and trickery.
In order to make the game more accessible to beginners, Mestre Bimba devised his sequences to show how capoeira movements can fit together fluidly and logically.
Students of capoeira can memorize Bimba's eight sequences in order to perfect the moves contained in the sequences and learn how they can be used in authentic capoeira games. The first sequence consists of five basic capoeira moves: Meia Lua de Frente, Armada, Aú, Cocorinha, Negativa, and Cabeçada. In this sequence, the first player uses the Meia Lua de Frente kick and the second player defends with Cocorinha.
This occurs twice, and the second time the kicking player attacks with Armada (an attack using the arm). The second player defends with Negativa, which is a floor move in which the player attempts to take her or his opponent down with an outstretched foot. The first player moves away from the Negativa using Aú, which is similar to a cartwheel. Finally, the second player uses Cabeçada, which is similar to a head-butt move, to put the cartwheeling player off balance.
Each of the other seven sequences follow similar logical patterns, and each ends with the Negativa, Aú, and Cabeçada combination. Thus, capoeira players who know only a few simple moves can gain access to a whole range of attack and defense combinations by studying Mestre Bimba's sequencias.
Bimba's Sequences around the World
It is important to understand that there are many different styles and approaches to capoeira. Mestre Bimba's style of capoeira is called Capoeira Regional, and his sequences are used to teach that style. Even within Capoeira Regional, there are many different styles and approaches. Some capoeira schools emphasize attacks that use the feet, for example, and de-emphasize hand and head-based attacks.
Accordingly, individual capoeira schools and associations tend to modify Mestre Bimba's sequences to fit their own unique styles. Two capoeiristas who were trained at different schools of Capoeira Regional will probably be familiar with Mestre Bimba's sequencias, but they may know slightly different versions of them. This can make for some interesting practice sessions if the two players decide to use the sequences!
Anyone interested in learning the art of capoeira should seek out a reputable capoeira school in their area. Capoeira is a fast-growing martial art, and talented capoeiristas can be found in all corners of the globe. It's a good idea to understand the theory and history behind capoeira, but the only way to truly understand what capoeira is all about is to try it out!