Category: Groups

Mestre Sinhozinho

Marcelo Backes Navarro Stotz (Mestre K.B.Lera)

Agenor Moreira Sampaio (Sinhozinho) was born in 1891. He was one of eight children of Anna Isolina Moreira Sampaio with Lieutenant Colonel José Moreira de Sampaio, political chief and briefly mayor of the city of Santos (1899). Self-taught in the study of Physical Education, he excelled in several sports from the 1910s to the 1950s, coaching champions in weightlifting, jumping, rowing, boxing, soccer and other sports.

In an interview with the newspaper Diário de Notícias (in “Clube Nacional de Gymnastica: Uma grande Promessa” – Rio de Janeiro, September 1, 1931), Agenor Sampaio is presented as “the great animator of the youth of Brazilian sports” and talks about his career:

I started my sporting life – said Sinhôzinho, preliminarily – in 1904, at the Club Esperia de S. Paulo; as a member-student. […] with the arrival of Edú Chaves from Europe, new teachings were passed to us, out of which the Greco-Roman fight, French boxing (savate) and gymnastics with equipments were the most important. […] In 1907, I joined the Club Força e Coragem (Power and Courage), which was directed by Professor Pedro Pucceti. […] I obtained my first successes in this competition and had the chance to win the tournament of my category. […] In 1908, I moved to this capital, from where I never left.

He exercised many professional activities in Rio de Janeiro: He was one of the founders of the Centre for Physical Culture Physica Enéas Campello in Rua das Marrecas, coach at the Hellenic Athletic Club (1924), at the America Football Club (1926), at the Regatta Club Boqueirão do Passeio (1926), Flamengo Regatta Club (1934) and Fluminense (1936), teaching gymnastics, fights, athletics and soccer (America FC). He also served as coach, trainer, technician, masseur, and won several weight and weightlifting championships and fencing disputes. Sinhozinho knew several styles of fighting and acted as referee in several fights.

In the “Marvellous City” (Brazilian nickname for Rio de Janeiro) he maintained gyms and training centres in different venues, notably in vacant lots. The backyard of his home on Redentor Street was the first gym to open in Ipanema. In the adjoining land to his apartment on 270 Almirante Saddock de Sá street, also in Ipanema, the well-known “Clube do Sinhozinho” functioned, where weight lifting, gymnastics with equipment, boxing, wrestling, and more were practiced. He also worked at the “Barreira do América”, near América F.C.; at the corner of Raul Redfern Street with the Ipanema beach; next to Colégio São Paulo, on Vieira Souto Avenue; at Visconde de Pirajá, next to Bar Progresso; at Barão da Torre, in front of Notre Dame College; and, finally, at Alberto de Campos Street.

When he arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Sinhozinho probably lived near the house of Zeca Floriano, son of former president Floriano Peixoto, training for some years with this excellent capoeirista and martial artist of several ring fights (Silva and Corrêa, 2020). He soon became known in the sports and bohemian circles of the city, next to people like Bororó, Antenor da Praia, Lincoln, Zenha, Silvio Pessoa, Beijoca, Elite, among others. After watching the famous fight at the International Pavilion on May 1, 1909, in which the capoeira Cyriaco beat the Japanese Sada Miyako, Sinhozinho tried to learn capoeira in Rio, probably on the hill of Santo Antônio, but also in the conviviality with bohemians, rogues (malandros) from Lapa, and workers from the port area.

Right here on our website you can learn more about the former Cariocan capoeira and the characters that made this story: Old Malandros: A – Z.

The friendship with sportsman Jayme Martins Ferreira, adept of Capoeiragem (and later an important character in the implementation of the “Bahian style” in Rio de Janeiro), suggests that Sinhozinho had contact with the project of a national fighting style, a project defended at the time in the Federal Capital by various intellectuals, military officer, politicians, etc. In 1916, Mário Aleixo, who knew the method of Capoeiragem systematized by Raphael Lothus, invited him to teach Greco-Roman wrestling in the recently opened gym of the Trade Union of the Retail Trade Employees (União dos Empregados do Comércio), in the centre of Rio de Janeiro. In the same year Agenor Sampaio joined the Portuguese Gymnastics Club, where he became a weightlifting champion for several years.

In 1920 Mário Aleixo and the journalist Raul Pederneiras opened a Capoeiragem school in one of the classrooms of that club. Agenor Sampaio is part of the group that made exhibitions of Ginástica Brasileira (Capoeiragem), as described in the newspaper O Jornal (13/03/1920):

The sports programme of the festival also includes the presentations directed by teachers Mário Aleixo, Gustavo Senna and Agenor Sampaio, sure to achieve complete success. Personal defence and attack – teacher Mário Aleixo versus Ernesto Goétte. Boxing – Waldemiro vs. Rubens, directed by champion Gustavo Senna. Brazilian gymnastics (Capoeiragem) – teacher Agenor Sampaio x Lincoln Coimbra.

In 1930, Agenor Sampaio created the ” National Gymnastics Club”, located at Rua do Rosario nº 133, 2nd floor. The classes were free for a group of private students who learned his own style of Capoeiragem, different from the ones known until then, without musical accompaniment and specifically focused on combat. In the following year, the defeat of Mário Aleixo’s project of capo-jitsu, as well as of other capoeiristas to Jiu-jitsu fighters in the ring, where they were forced to wear a kimono, may have contributed to the construction of his version of Capoeira that tried to get closer to the warlike gestures of the old capoeira gangs (maltas) in Rio de Janeiro, as well as incorporating techniques of other fighting styles, such as the Greco-Roman wrestling and French savate.

Clothing was standardized with shorts and a type of padded trainers, using a soft material similar to boxing gloves to cushion the blows. The athletes practiced on tatami, to avoid injuries and make it possible to apply the capoeira techniques with greater vigour. The ginga was adapted to the leg work of boxing and the training with a razor (called “sardine” or “Santo Cristo”) and a cane (known as Petrópolis), as well as the Cariocan pernada, the latter without music, just using kicks and unbalancing blows. Sinhozinho used all kinds of gadgets, devices and protective equipment for the training of the sports he taught. This differential, added to the social prestige that came from the practice and teaching of other sports, attracted the attention of the youth of high society, and facilitated the insertion of Capoeira in the Cariocan sports environment.

On 04/15/1932, Sinhozinho again in the Diário de Notícias. Source: National Library

Sinhozinho was the main character of a range of episodes, from the murder of an aggressor to killing with his hands a donkey just run over by a car. He was frequently mentioned in the articles of the newspaper Diário de Notícias, not only in the sports section, but also in columns such as “humorous homeopathy” and “what was said yesterday” that commented picturesque facts in Rio de Janeiro. In the edition of Wednesday, September 23, 1931, under the title “The Resurrection of Capoeira”, the newspaper announced:

Diário de Notícias will sponsor the interesting tournament among the students of coach Agenor Sampaio (Sinhozinho). The great and justified interest that exists around Capoeiragem is resurfacing with vigour, thanks mainly to the advertisement of the press, notably the Diário de Notícias, and the activity of Agenor Sampaio (Sinhozinho)…

The highlight of this first generation was André Jansen, goalkeeper of Botafogo Football Club, champion of capoeiragem in Rio de Janeiro, considered by the Rio press the best capoeira of his time in Brazil. Jansen visited several states demonstrating his effectiveness as a fighter. On October 30, 1935, at Parque Boa Vista in Salvador, Bahia, he faced Ricardo Nibbon, a student of George Gracie, a jiu-jitsu and catch-as-catch can champion from Rio de Janeiro. In this master event, Bimba and his students demonstrated the Bahian Regional Fight. Rudolf de Otero Hermanny stood out among the last generation of Capoeira fighters trained by Sinhozinho. A physical educator, called the Bear, Brazilian and Pan-American Judo team champion, in Mexico, in 1960, Hermanny was a lecturer at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and coach of the Brazilian Football Team in the 1966 World Cup.

Sinhozinho defended the idea of Capoeira as the official Brazilian fight, a technique of personal defence, the National Gymnastics, highlighting its combined aspects of fighting, sport and gymnastics. However, after being involved in a brawl during a carnival parade in Copacabana, Sinhozinho declared to the newspaper Diário da Noite on January 21, 1949: “in my academy there are no capoeiragem classes, a sport I have never practiced. I only teach wrestling, weightlifting as can easily be checked”.

Paradoxically, on April 1, 1949, the newspaper A Noite brought the news of the “Capoeira Challenge – Sinhozinho of the Federal District against Mestre Bimba from Bahia”, reporting that Sinhozinho, when he learned that “the capoeiristas from Bahia currently in Rio, presented themselves as the best in the country, soon challenged this statement, since he also considers himself a great capoeirista and has extraordinary students”. In fact, his pupils Rudolf Hermanny and Luiz Pereira de Aguiar (Luiz Ciranda or Cirandinha), “Brazilian capoeira champion” and weightlifter, were victorious in the fight against Perez and Jurandir, representatives of capoeira Regional. The fighting match was organised by the Metropolitan Federation of Pugilism and held over two days at the Carioca Stadium, on Avenida Passos, in downtown Rio.

The same duo represented Sinhozinho in 1953, when he challenged the Gracie family for a fight during a charity event at the Vasco de Gama stadium on March 17. Hermanny and Cirandinha, also trained by judoka Augusto Cordeiro, faced Guanair Gial Gomes and Carlson Gracie. In the first fight Hermanny showed superiority, but after one hour and ten minutes the fight was interrupted and declared a draw. In the second fight Cirandinha dominated the first moments, but got tired quickly and, when he suffered an arm wrench, his aide threw the towel, consecrating Carlson the winner. In June of the same year, Artur Emídio de Oliveira, a Bahian capoeirista and all-round fighter, challenged Sinhozinho’s school under the rules of Burlamaqui, including a floor fight. With Carlos and Hélio Gracie in the audience, Hermanny won against Emidio in the second round.

Agenor Sampaio wearing the special police uniform. Photo: André Lacé collection.

Alongside his sporting life, Agenor Sampaio became part of the first group of the Special Police created by Getúlio Vargas, where he also was an instructor. From 1935 he served as a policeman, and then as gymnastics teacher for the secret police during the Vargas dictatorship (1937-45), where he retired as a Vigilance Officer. Sinhozinho died in 1962 in Ipanema, where he was honoured with a statue. His name was also given to a street in Ilha do Governador.

And the veteran Brazilian athlete bade farewell, who, were it not for his modesty and disinterest in the glories that sport bestows, would today be a name of worldwide reputation, such is the affection and caprice with which he dedicated himself since his first youth, to the practice of the most diverse branches of sports. (Diário de Notícias, Rio de Janeiro, September 1, 1931).

Sinhozinho had an outstanding participation in several sports modalities, especially in combat sports. He got more notoriety than other contemporaries who also worked with capoeira and in Freestyle figthing, possibly due to his role as educator, physical trainer and coach of several renowned athletes. But there is still much to be discovered about his Capoeira exclusively focused on combat. Here is the challenge to the researchers.

During his long career acting in several sports, Sinhozinho had as students: Paulo Azeredo (wrestling athlete); Paulo Amaral (football coach); Silvio M. Padilha (obstacle runner, president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee); Inezil Penna Marinho (Brazilian Physical Education intellectual); Tom Jobim (famous musician and creator of Bossa Nova); Eloy Dutra (governor of Guanabara state); Augusto Cordeiro (judo master); Hugo Melo (Judo and Freestyle champion); Orlando Américo da Silva, nicknamed Dudu (Brazilian champion of Freestyle Fight; Tromposki, Luiz Felipe Mendonça; Mário Pedregulho; Bruno Hermanny; Roberto William (teacher at the National School for Physical Education); Carlos Madeira, Darke de Mattos, Telmo Maia, Comandante Max, Paulo Lefevre, Bube Assinger, Wanderley Fernandes (Parachutist), José Alves (Pernambuco), Carlos Pimentel, Lucas e Haroldo Cunha, Manoel Simões Lopes, Flávio Maranhão, Carlos Alberto Monteiro Rego (known as “Copacabana”), Joaquim Gomes (Kim), the Machado Brothers, Alberto Silva, Eurico Fernandes, Manoel Fernandes (Portuguese Olympic free-style and Grecco-Roman Fight champion); Carlos Alberto Pettezzoni Salgado, Belisquete (capoeira teacher in the USA); Carlos Cocada; Neyder Alves; Sylvio Redinger, known as Redi (cartoonist); and André Luiz Lacé Lopes, (journalist).

Bibliography

 Newspapers from Rio de Janeiro, consulted at Hemeroteca da Biblioteca Nacional.

 LOPES, André Luiz Lacé. A Capoeiragem no Rio de Janeiro, primeiro ensaio – Sinhozinho e Rudolf Hermanny. Rio de Janeiro. Editora Europa, 2002.

_________. A Volta do Mundo da Capoeira. 1ª edição, Rio de Janeiro: Coreográfica Editora e Gráfica, 1999.

LUSSAC, Ricardo Martins Porto (Mestre Teco). Agenor Moreira Sampaio, o Sinhozinho, 1891-1962: uma vida pela capoeira e pelo esporte da cidade do Rio de Janeiro Caminhos da Educação: diálogos, culturas e diversidades , v. 1, p. 159-162, 2020.
Accessível em
https://revistas.ufpi.br/index.php/cedsd/article/view/9911

MARINHO, Inezil Penna. Subsídios para o estudo da metodologia do treinamento da capoeiragem. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1945.

SILVA, Elton e Eduardo Corrêa, Muito antes do MMA: O legado dos precursores do Vale Tudo no Brasil e no mundo. Kindle edition, 2020.

THE SENZALA GROUP AND THE CAPOEIRA SAFEGUARD

By Mestre Gato (Fernando Campelo Cavalcanti de Albuquerque)

The Capoeira Circle and the Capoeira Masters Craft

The Roda de Capoeira and the Capoeira Masters Craft are cultural assets recognized as Cultural Heritage of Brazil since 2008. The Roda de Capoeira was internationally recognized by UNESCO, in 2014, as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Following the guidelines of the publication Safeguards of the Roda de Capoeira and the Capoeira Masters Craft – Support and Promotion (IPHAN, November 2017), the Senzala de Capoeira Group intends to act for the Safeguarding of Capoeira, through an inventory of the characteristics, practices and fundamentals of capoeira that it has practiced, taught and spread in Brazil and around the world over the last 56 years.

Capoeira, as popular art, has its own subjectivity, nuances that its practitioners feel, understand, but often cannot explain due to this subjectivity. On the other hand, it is important to make an inventory of its characteristics and fundamentals, for its own cultural preservation.

Capoeira is a dynamic and popular manifestation that has been changed by its practitioners since its inception, according to the social context. It is fight, play, dance, body expression, and rhythm; all these elements are present in the practice of capoeira, which needs to be exercised collectively, with the Capoeira Circle, which integrates and includes its participants spontaneously.

The Senzala Group

The Senzala Group has its origins in the Bahian capoeira, initially following the method of capoeira regional, where the student learns the basic teaching sequence, the cintura desprezada (balões) sequence, the falls and unbalancing attacks, presenting “sketches” (attack and defence in combined sequences, containing falls, rasteiras or sweeping kicks, balões) and playing to the different rhythms of the regional style.

Capoeira in Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s mainly featured capoeira from Bahia, brought by the masters Artur Emídio, Mário Santos, Roque and Paraná, but there was still a remnant of capoeira carioca, capoeira of the rogues, of the pernadas, the samba duro and the jackknives, represented by the capoeira of Sinhô and the roguery of the shantytowns on the hills of Rio. Without the continuous presence of a capoeira master, whilst being influenced by the capoeira that existed in Rio de Janeiro at the time, and needing to teach to larger groups of students, the group developed its own teaching and training methods, characterized by the following main features:

Warm-up and gymnastics, developed from the basic fundamentals of capoeira, using ginga and negaças when training attacks and defences, feints, movements of high, medium and low game, practice of evasive movements and defensive positions, guards, descending and ascending movementss, and steps. Conducting these trainings sessions with the entire group of students performing the ginga at the same time, doing physical and muscular conditioning through capoeira positions and movements, such as the bananeira, corta capim, aú com queda de rins, rolê,and various types of negativas, among others..

Strike and hit training on light targets and hitting bag.

Training two by two, simulating game situations.

Attack, defence and counterattack training.

Using training sequences, such as those of regional capoeira, with variations with the use of dodges and defences, such as front and side dodges. Training of low and medium game sequences, trying to practice different movements such as cabeçadas, rasteiras, bandas and tesouras.

Developing didactics for learning, how to teach possible forms of attacks, for example, making an armada by entring diagonally to the aim or defending and counterattacking diagonally.

Stimulating the student’s creativity and spontaneity, through intuitive teaching methods.

Improving rhythm in movement and play through training to accompany different rhythms, respecting capoeira traditions and rituals, as described below.

    • Jogo de Dentro – a game to work on continuity and proximity, exercising esquivas de coluna, quedas de rins, entradas and saídas de tesouras, trying to stay close to the berimbau throughout the game. Pace – Inside Game.
    • Jogo de Iúna – a game to work on continuity and movement flourishes, using balões from the cintura desprezada of Regional style. The Senzala Group started to allow the practice of the the Iúna game only for blue belt graduates. Rhythm – Iúna.

    • Angola game – Rhythm – Angola or São Bento Pequeno, medium or slow.

    • São Bento Grande game – Rhythm – São Bento Grande of Angola fast or São Bento Grande of Regional.

Uniform and belts

Such training methodology provided rapid development of the capoeiristas from the Senzala Group in technique and efficiency of the blows. In addition, the group adopted a uniform consisting of white mesh pants (which came to be called abadá) and a grading system symbolized by the colours of the students’ belts.

The student, when baptized, received the white belt, moving on successively to yellow, orange, then blue, which was the first advanced level, when the student had to present, during the graduation ceremony, their knowledge of the berimbau rhythms, the songs and play a Iúna game, showing the balões of Cintura Desprezada.

Subsequently, the green, purple and brown belts would follow. After a while on the brown belt, the student was proposed for the red belt, becoming a representative of the Senzala Group. In the 1990s, Mestre Peixinho created the gray belt, for the intermediate level between beginner and advanced, after the orange belt and before the blue belt, which was adopted by the other masters of the Senzala Group.

Group methodology

The Senzala Group has stimulated interactivity between its red belts {masters] since the late 1960s, which allowed the formation of a completely different group from other capoeira academies and associations existing at the time. In the group’s weekly rodas, every capoeirista was welcome, thus creating the opportunity to play / train with someone different every time. During the summer holidays, some members of the group went to Salvador, to train at Mestre Bimba’s academy, to visit the street rodas and the masters of the “old guard”.

Mestre Gato, 2019. Photo: Capoeira History Project.

Back in Rio de Janeiro, the group discussed how to practice those movements, the low game, the high game, the malandragem (roguery) they observed, carrying out real training labs which, together with visits to the rodas of masters Artur Emídio, Zé Pedro, Roque, Celso de Pilares, in Rio de Janeiro, were going to strengthen the training methodology and didactics of the Senzala Group.

Since the late 1960s the Senzala Group has organized the capoeira rodas with 3 berimbaus, Gunga, Médio and Viola, an atabaque, one or two tambourines and sometimes a reco-reco. The classes consisted of 3 parts, a warm-up inspired by capoeira movements (Mestre Gil Velho made great contributions in this regard), training of kicks, sequences and game situations and the capoeira roda. In the late 1970s, due to the large number of students in the classes, Mestre Garrincha started to make several capoeira circles before the final roda, which became a common practice of the Senzala Group.

Group fundamentals

In addition to the characteristics described above, the masters of the Senzala Group seek to practice and teach capoeira according to the following fundamentals and principles:

respect for capoeira traditions and rituals, with the rhythm of the game commanded by the berimbau gunga;

respect for capoeiristas and older masters, building and maintaining an environment of camaraderie which is welcoming to capoeiristas of all origins;

discipline and development of the capoeiristas’ technical level and establishment of a standard of physical conditioning at an athletic level;

cultivation of humility and effort to learn from each game partner;

development of the perception of rhythm and of the other, always looking for a favourable situation in the game and not being surprised, but accepting the steps in a good mood and calmly seeking your rematch;

encouraging good humour and playing in the game.