Living Legend of Capoeira shares his story – dating back to 1950! – with students
October 26, 2019

ACBX was honored with the visit of Mestre Joao Grande, one of the oldest (perhaps, the oldest!) living student of Mestre Pastinha, who was the greatest exponent of Capoeira Angola. His visit gave the current generation of capoeiristas a chance to connect with the roots of our artform. It was a day that will forever live in our hearts. Mestre was warmly welcomed to ACBX with lively music and he immediately responded singing with his iconic voice, emanating the “axe” (positive energy) that makes him so loved in our community. In a candid chat with students, Mestre talked about his first encounter with Capoeira, and his beginning days training with Mestre Pastinha, back in 1950! Mestre reinforced the importance of giving value to the art saying, “You are learning and training capoeira not for your school but for the world.


Mestre João Grande spoke of the important responsibility we all have to preserve and share capoeira. He also spoke about respecting your Mestre, and important role all teachers play in spreading knowledge.  ”Eu sou uma fruta madura que cai do pé lentamente. Quando ela cai espalha semente e vai procurar terra fresca pra ser fruta novamente,” metaphorically comparing himself to a fruit that slowly falls off the tree when ripe. When the fruit hits the ground its seeds are dispersed and find fresh soil to grow fruits again.

After our chat Mestre led our Angola roda filled with axe and mandinga, offering a spirit that only he can transmit. The admiration and keen interest of students was palpable throughout the roda. It was clear to all, that Mestre enjoyed this afternoon of remembrance and praise to him.

ACBX and the larger ABADA community in New York were humbled by his presence and thankful for the opportunity to be with him in an intimate setting. Special thanks to our dear friend Gamela from the Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre João Grande for being part of this day. Mestre João Grande; our sincere appreciation for your presence and for sharing your legacy with us.