Back to the future
2017 promises to be significant for the worldwide capoeira community — Grupo Cordao de Ouro is turning 50 years old.
Founded on the 1st of September in 1967 by Mestre Suassuna and Mestre Brasilia it became one of the biggest and most influential capoeira schools in the world. Masters who started their career in Mestre Suassuna's academy now teach in numerous schools around the world — from Chicago to Seoul, from Vologda to Capetown — attracting people to the capoeira art and brazilian culture.

The anniversary will be celebrated during a big event taking place in August in Sao Paulo. It will be attended by hundreds of masters and students from around the world.
Like any big anniversary, the 50-year celebration brings back old memories, inspires people to scrutinize their present and contemplate the future. Mestre Boca Rica, who runs a CDO school in Barcelona, wrote a book about Mestre Suassuna and Cordao de Ouro, which he is launching next year on school's anniversay. We met with Boca Rica and asked him what inspired him to write the book, what it means for him, and what impact Mestre Suassuna had on him.

The idea to write a book about Mestre Suassuna and his life came to Boca Rica ten years ago.
"First of all, it's my way to say thank you to Mestre Suassuna for his enormous impact and contribution to my personal development. Besides that, I wanted to convey the importance of his role in the development of capoeira in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the whole world".
Boca Rica
Philosophy and unique characteristics of Cordão de Ouro are important topics in the book. "In our school we, first of all, preserve traditions of capoeira through trainings and research," the author says. "We want to support solidarity among capoeiristas and those who are interested in it, regardless of style for the sake of knowledge exchange".
The miudinho game, developed by mestre Suassuna, is considered the unique feature of Cordão de Ouro. Miudinho is a continuous play in a confined space (jogo de dentro) consisting of lots of swings and floreos. A distinguishing characteristic of Cordao de Ouro is the flexibility and ability to adapt to many different capoeira styles, be it angola, regional or miudinho.
Boca Rica confesses that he wants readers to see the real Mestre Suassuana and tell his story, from a little boy with a big dream, to one of the most influential capoeiristas in the world. "Most people think that creating Cordão de Ouro school was a piece of cake but to tell the truth it was a long and difficult journey and sometimes it is good to look behind the stage and learn the story how it really was".

Besides Mestre Suassuna himself, Boca Rica also focuses on Mestre Suassuna's teachers and other famous capoeiristas, who influenced him. Those include Mestre Sururu and Mestre Abine from Itabuna as well as Mestre Valdemar and, of course, Mestre Bimba.

One of the greatest inspirations for Boca Rica's book was his mentor Mestre Decanio, the most famous and beloved student of Mestre Bimba. Mestre Decanio worked as a doctor and came to Mestre Bimba's academy in 1938. Since then he had assisted his master for many years. He wrote several books about capoeira and maintained a popular Internet blog until his death in 2012.
While researching materials for his book, Boca Rica turned to old interviews with Mestre Suassuna, and talked with many of his colleagues. They became his main source of information.

"It was really hard to write. I always had to stay concentrated", Boca Rica admits. "It's difficult to write about someone else and tell about things that you haven't experienced by yourself. That's why I always had to seek help from the actual witnesses of the events".

In his book, Boca tried to collect different points of view from people close to Mestre Suassuna, and who could contribute to the story of his life. Very few people took his idea seriously, however, and were reluctant to share their thoughts.

"Memories are hard to bring back, many people prefer to keep them in secret", Boca shares. After some time, though, Mestre Suassuna's contemporaries gained an interest in the project, and they began sharing their memories and their stories. When you write a biography, you have to stick to the truth. The problem is, different people have different points of view on the same event, so I had to sort and synchronize the information to bring it to the same idea".

Boca Rica's personal experiences and memories about Mestre Suassuna's make this biography more intimate. "I came to his academy when I was 12 years old", Boca says. "Since then he became a second father for me and had a great impact on my growth and personal development".

Today, Mestre Boca Rica is one of the most successful students of Mestre Suassuna, and has received great recognition across Europe. His goal is to inspire his students and teach them how to love this art as much as he does in order to develop capoeira.
"I want to show my children, that you can do something in life that you really love no matter what other people think of it", Boca shares.
This is one of the most important lessons he received from Mestre Suassuna.
By Ekaterina Zakharova
Credits: Jogo Bonito Archive; Capoeira Tours
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