Capoeira (/kæpəʊˈeərə/) is an Afro-Brazilian cultural practice, an art form that involves sport, body expression, music, and tradition. Capoeira is a tupi-guaraní word, which in Portuguese means “mato cortado” (in English, “cut bush”). Capoeira promotes mutual respect and inclusion between diverse individuals and communities, as well as the memory of resistance to historical oppression. Since 2014, the “roda de Capoeira” (Capoeira circula) has been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


Mestre Poeira playing with Mestre Reizinho in 2003

The “Associação de Capoeira Descendente do Pantera” (ACDP) was founded in 1973 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) by Mestre Pantera. Mestre Pantera was taught by Mestre Poeira, who had the group “Grupo Pantera” — created as a tribute to the Black Panthers, who had a strong influence in the resistance movements during the dictatorship in Brazil — and gave the nickname “Pantera” to the leader of that group. Mestre Pantera, 2020

In 1973, Mestre Pantera founded ACDP as a need to create an association, which would make him eligible to participate in the championships organised by the Boxing Federation of Rio de Janeiro. In 1991, Mestre Pantera moved to Madrid (Spain) and started teaching Capoeira — as one of the first Capoeira teachers in Spain. Mestre Pantera has been teaching Capoeira to adults and kids in Madrid since then.

Meet Your Teacher

Contramestre Camaleão (Damiano Spina) was born in La Plata (Argentina) and started Capoeira — together with his brother Michelangelo, a.k.a. Pinguim — in 1999 in Madrid (Spain) with Mestre Pantera, founder of the Associação de Capoeira Descendente do Pantera (ACDP) in 1973 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). In Madrid, Camaleão had been assisting his Mestre in classes, workshops, and performances, for both kids and adults. In 2012, he received his “cordel azul” (Aluno Formado) by his Mestre at the Centro Cultural “Itineranti” of Mestre Poeira in Padre Miguel, RJ, Brazil.

Mestre Touro e Contramestre Camalão, 2022 In 2015, he moved to Melbourne and started teaching Capoeira in the southern suburbs. In 2022, he received his “cordel trançado verde-amarelo-azul” (Contramestre) by his Mestre Pantera in Valls, Tarragona (Spain).

Camaleão is main vocalist and percussionist at the samba band Wombatuque. He has a PhD in Computer Science, and is a Senior Lecturer & DECRA Fellow at RMIT University.

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Podcast on Capoeira History

by Mike Pinto