Talk the Talk

The trained Capoeirista has many moves available to him including three distinctive types of head-butts.

The Arpao de Cabeca begins by ducking under an attack and putting full body weight behind the attack. The Escorumelo is similar but specifically targets under the chin and the Cabecada is more of a push or playful attack.

Walk the Walk

Although clemency was usually granted when a capoeira fighter submitted, this was not always the case and these fights could end with serious injury to the looser and in some cases even death.

 Manduca fought in many such battles and was undefeated despite fighting the best fighters Rio de Janeiro had to offer.

  Mestre Manduca da Praia – The Elegant Capoeira Fighter

Mestre Manduca da Praia was a well loved and respected capoeira fighter famed for his sense of style, his elegant persona and for being one of the best martial arts practitioners in late nineteenth century Brazil.

He is described as being a tall man with a pointy beard and grey and copper coloured hair that he covered with his trademark white beaver hat.

A Legend in the History of Fighting

Both feared and respected in equal proportions, Manduca had extreme confidence in his abilities in the capoeira arts and stories of his battles with police and other capoeiristas circulated so much that they turned him into a legend in the history of fighting.

Agile and very acrobatic, the Mestre was capable of fighting multiple opponents with his bare hands and feet but was also an expert at using weapons such as a knife or a wooden stick known as a petropolis.

Manduca, like other Brazilian capoeira experts of the time was dignified and had an elegant manor in which he carried himself. However what really set him apart was his extraordinary ability to think on the spot, which allowed him to out-wit most opponents who faced him.

The Criminal Underworld and Brazilian Capoeira

In the nineteenth century, Brazilian capoeira was synonymous with gangs and the criminal underworld as those who had taken the time and effort to learn martial arts, tended to have an advantage over those who did not due to their fighting skills.

As with many other world martial arts, the best capoeira fighters would challenge each other to no-holds-barred street fights, the winner being decided when one fighter could no longer continue, either due to knock out, injury or submission.

Although many who were prolific in the capoeira arts excelled in the criminal gangs, Mestre Manduca da Praia avoided this fate. Instead, he was a well-respected local businessman who gained a decent living from his fish counter on the market square.

He also made money from bodyguard work, especially for politicians which made him connections that kept him out of jail despite being arrested twenty-seven times for fighting and practicing the capoeira arts.

Futher Reading

About Capoeira History. [Internet]. 2010. Origens Do Brasil. Available from: [Accessed November 30, 2012].

Capoeira Mestre Nascimento Grande. [Internet]. 2011. Live Capoeira. Available from: [Accessed November 30, 2012].

Great Birth. [Internet]. 2008. Grupo Senzala Celeiro De Bambas. Available from: [Accessed November 30, 2012].

Manduca da Praia history.   [Internet].  2012.  Capoeira Wiki.  Available from: (Translated version).  [Accessed November 30, 2012].

 More Capoeira History

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