THE RASTEIRA IN CAPOEIRA
Lúcia Palmares –
Translation by Shayna McHugh
Lately, in capoeira in São Paulo and still more in Europe, I lament the almost-disappearance
of the rasteira. The rasteira used to be a symbol of a capoeirista’s expertise. It was the cause for hours of training
in the academy. To manage the success of doing a correct rasteira, the capoeiristas worked in partners;
there existed the floreio, the ginga, the “deceptions” that make part of capoeira. We must not allow such
an important thing in capoeira to vanish.
I remember one case that demonstrates
how the rasteira was considered, in the still recent time that I trained in the academy
of Mestre Nô. A certain student, graduated after years of learning, thought
that he, with his physical shape and his experience, was superior to his mestre. He challenged Mestre Nô on a Saturday in
front of all the students and various visitors. Nô went to the roda, saying that if he lost, he would go away, leaving the
student the director of the academy.
The game began in a medium
beat, without songs, and lasted a long time. There was much tension; whoever played instruments, played, and everyone else
stayed silent. There were moments of superiority of one over the other, and later the advantage turned. Nô prepared the student
until giving a fantastic rasteira that caught in both the student’s legs and sent him to the ground on his buttocks.
The student in anger tried to start with punches, but others stopped him. He, in the end, became so unhappy that he abandoned
It is one case, among many
that I saw, that makes it possible to confirm the symbolic importance of the rasteira in capoeira. Who does not remember of
the talent of Mestre Canjiquinha, of Um-por-Um (of Massaranduba), of Marcos “Alabama,”
in the rasteira?
In batizados, the conclusion
of the novice’s game is done with the takedown by rasteira, besides other forms of takedowns. Today we see capoeiristas
that are said to be exceptional who cannot manage to give a rasteira on the students who are being baptized. We see capoeiristas
intimidating the novices, and carrying out traumatic blows and throws without technique to knock them down. It is lamentable
to see that the new generation of capoeiristas is not proud of their technique, and has become so insecure in their art that
they do not open their game (even if it was with the aim of a takedown) when playing novices of a few months of training.
Those watching from a distance see the opportunities that those capoeiristas have to make, but the capoeiristas do not take
them, preferring violent movements, to the sadness of those present, whether students, relatives, or spectators that know
It seems, then, that the
rasteira left the repertoire of many capoeiristas.
Could it be that new training
methods excluded the rasteira? Could it be that the rasteira does not make up a part of modern capoeira? Could it be that
the rasteira requires too much of these new capoeira masters? The rasteira requires much awareness of the other player. As
I already noted, it is necessary to work, to prepare the opponent enough so that he makes a decisive blow… that ends
in his own takedown. It is the ability of a mestre; but it requires a good head, and time. The games that we watch have the
main objective of showing movements. It doesn’t matter whether they are aggressive or acrobatic; in the minds of the
players the movements themselves surpass the tactic, the skill in the art of manipulating the other.
In general, we agree with those
who think, like Mestre Decânio, that the overly fast beat and the desire to assert oneself in a “vale tudo” prejudice
the game of capoeira, removing the ginga, the rasteira, everything that makes the beauty of our art. If, as I think, the capoeira
of Bahia has something to teach the world (in practice for our European students), is exactly
this original thing. Because of this, we cannot accept seeing a basic element like the rasteira ignored.
Thus, let’s develop a
basic project with our students, whether men or women, weak or strong, new or old, in the sense of a capoeira that is concerned
with the other player, partner and adversary at the same time.
Lúcia Palmares is a nurse,
Bahian, born in Salvador on May 15, 1955. She was a capoeira
student of Norival Moreira de Oliveira, Mestre Nô, in the Academia Orixás da Bahia in Maçaranduba/Salvador/Bahia, since 1971.
She received the cordão of professora in 1979. She taught in the academy
Centro Suburbano de Capoeira (rua 2 de Julho, 19, Alto de Coutos) of Mestre Dinelson, from 1980 to 1990. In 1987 she
received the cord of Contra-Mestre granted by Mestre Nô. In 1992 she left Salvador,
went to Santos (SP) and continued teaching capoeira working in an ONG. In 1995 she moved to France. Today she is starting a new group in Paris
and researching the cultural aspects of capoeira. She can be contacted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org