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Mendes on Capoeira Calinda

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 5 months ago





The objective of the Capoeira Angola Calinda project is to bring together information and experts on the various martial arts forms of the African Diaspora and Black Atlantic to fill the many gaps existing in the study of the history of diaspora and martial culture in the Americas and beyond.  This draft text presents views based on the research of Mestrando Marcio Mendes of Grupo Muiraquita (Canada) on the groundbreaking research developed by Louis McWilliams on the Kalinda martial arts form.  Mendes' review emphasises the importance of cross-cultural dialogue in the development of comparative research on the martial arts forms of the Black Atlantic. (Cafe)









Louis Mc Williams

Review: Marcio Mendes

Toronto, November 2006


In May of 2004 I travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to give a capoeira workshop (Capoeira is a mix of martial arts and dance that was created in Brazil by African slaves). Afterwards, one of my students invited me to watch a Kalinda match. Where, I had the opportunity of watch the ritual preparation of the battle and to talk to my student’s cousin who was considered a good fighter. This student’s family comes from a traditional line of Kalinda fighters, and had always said that there was a lot similarity with the capoeira.


It is easy to draw a comparison between the two arts.  Like in Capoeira, Kalinda is influenced by Afro-religions, and the fighters often get into a trance-like state.  A Kalinda match involves two fighters battling with sticks; the symbol of Capoeira is the Berimbau (a musical instrument used in all Capoeira matches); the process of building the stick and the Berimbau includes choosing the wood, cutting it and preparing it in a ritualistic way.  Further comparisons between the two arts can be drawn through the presence of circles or “wheels.”  Also both Capoeira and Kalinda greatly influenced their respective cultures, in particular music, dance and the theatre.



I find McWilliams’ research a good historical and social examination of Kalinda, and he draws convincing parallels between the martial art and Caribbean theatre, and dance.  He points out that Caribbean theatre, dance, and calypso continue to evolve, in Trinidad and around the world, and Kalinda is becoming less and less important.  Again here is another similarity with Capoeira, which also continues to evolve, where musical rhythms which were once very important no longer hold much relevance (Iuna Mandigueira- O Passaro Simbolo da Capoeira)



I have one minor criticism of McWilliams’ MRP. He describes Maculele as a type of stick fight. “…There is also a similar account of stick fighting in Brazil called Maculele” (McWilliams pg 5).  Recent research by Sergio Luiz de Souza Vieira shows that Maculele is an indigenous manifestation, a ritual to express homosexuality among the natives, not a fight.  


The world is changing a lot, and this type of research is important to make the connection from our past to the ways we express ourselves today.







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