Vicente Joaquim Ferreira Pastinha, or Mestre Pastinha, born in Salvador, Bahia, lived from 1889 to 1981. He facinates angoleiros with an ideal way of teaching Capoeira Angola. Ways in how one should or shouldn't play. He has left a variety of drawings about Capoeira Angola.
Mestre Pastinha started learning capoeira when he was 8 years old from an African named Benedito.
He served the Brazilian Navy and, in 1910, became a Capoeira teacher. He organized the games' art throughout his life and founded his own school of Capoeira in 1942. He established a teaching methodology based on old traditions that were taken from enslaved Africans to Brazil. He also wrote a book called “Capoeira Angola”.
Mestre Pastinha was never recgonized as an educator or an encourager of the African-Brazilian culture.
Born to José Pastinha, a poor spanish imigrant who worked as a pedlar, and Eugênia Maria de Carvalho Ferreira, a black house cleaner from Bahia.
Mestre Pastinha used to say that he was lucky to have learned Capoeira...
“I was a weak 10 years old boy. A much stronger boy became my enemy and used to bully me. Every time I went out, going to the shop for example, we used to fight. He always beat me up”.
One day, from his house's window, an old African man named Benedito, that always watched Pastinhas' fight, said: “Come here my son. You shouldn't fight him, do you know why? He's bigger and older than you. You should come to my house instead of wasting time flying kites, so I could teach you a few valuable things”.
Mestre Pastinha started training Capoeira every day with Benedito. Learning the slaves' mandinga, until one day meeting his enemy again, but this time was different, Pastinha won the fight, throwing the boy on the floor. Some people say that they became friends after that.
Pastinha also studied at Liceu of Artes e Ofício (School of Arts), where he learned how to paint. In 1902, he started an apprenticeship in the Brazilian Navy, staying there for 8 years, where he taught Capoeira to his colleagues and also, learned fencing and to play guitar.
When he was 21 years old, in 1910, Pastinha left the navy so he could dedicate his time to painting and teaching Capoeira – the teaching of Capoeira had to be hidden though, as it was still prohibited in Brazil to practice it.
“There Were Only Mestres, no Students”
Pastinha taught Capoeira from 1913 to 1934. His fisrt student was Raimundo Aberrê.
Aberrê, as told by Pastinha, used to go to his house every day to train, but because it was a crime to practice Capoeira, Pastinha decided to stop teaching it. After that, even though he wanted to live his life teaching his art, he had to work in various jobs to make a living.
In 1941, Pastinha was invited by Aberrê to assist him in a roda in the borough of Gengibirra, where it was a meeting place for the best Capoeira Mestres to meet in Bahia. “There were only mestres, no students” - Pastinha used to say.
When asked who was his Mestre was, Aberrê answered saying that his name was Pastinha and they asked him to invite his Mestre to the roda, something that he did not hesitate to do. When he arrived at the roda, Pastinha was introduced to a Mestre called Amorzinho (Little Love), a police officer in charge of the roda and, immediately he gave the berimbau and the roda's responsibility to Pastinha. After this day, Pastinha founded the CECA - Capoeira Angola Sports Center - located at Largo do Cruzeiro de São Francisco.
In 1959, Pastinha was invited to see a plot of land in Bigode, where he received help from the neighbourhood. His centre was relocated there and the first black and yellow t-shirts were made, colours inspired by Clube Atlético Ypiranga, Pastinha's favourite football club.
A Sad End
In 1971, already 82 years old, Pastinha nearly blind due to an eye's cataract, was forced by the local government to leave the building where his school was for it to be refurbished, being promised that he could return once the work was done.
Pastinha had to move to a dark room, humid and with no windows. This was the only place that he could afford to pay with the money that he received from the government, as without teaching he couldn't rely on the money from his students. Many paintings and furniture were lost when he moved. Paintings that should be part of the Brazilian cultural history.
To make things worse, the building became part of the Patrimônio Histórico da Fundação do Pelourinho, later sold to SENAC, being transformed into a restaurant.
Pastinha became depressed with the loss of his school and suffered a stroke in 1979. He was treated in a public hospital for one year. After he went to live in Dom Pedro II, care home for the elderly, where he stayed until his death. Mestre Pastinha died blind, disabled and alone.
On 13th of November, 1981, Brazil lost one its best Mestres. Not only a Mestre of Capoeira Angola, but a philosopher.