There are five Mestres in the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) community: Mestre Cobra Mansa, Mestre Jurandir Nascimento , Mestre Valmir Damasceno and Mestre Silvinho. Mestre Cobra Mansa established the headquarters of ICAF in Washington DC and is the Mestre of the Washington DC group.
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mestre Cobra Mansa has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to training, teaching, researching, and preserving Capoeira Angola. He began training Capoeira Angola at age 14 and his agility and energetic personality made him a natural. The name Cobra Mansa means “Tame Snake” and he was so named because of the way he moved in the roda. He is thin, quick, agile, and “plays laughing all the time.” His passion was not without purpose, however. Since his early years, he has actively fought against racism and social injustice, using Capoeira as a tool to liberate and educate. He was an active member in the Black Movement in Brazil, and worked with street children as part of the well-known “Projeto Axe.”
In 1976 he began training with Mestre Moraes, and in 1982 they founded the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) in Salvador. GCAP was the first organization to recognize and attempt to preserve Capoeira Angola, the traditional form of capoeira. At the time, the most popular form of Capoeira was Capoeira Regional, a more flamboyant and less traditional form of Capoeira, and GCAP sought to return to the more ancestral spirit of the art.
In 1994, Cobra Mansa came to Washington DC and one year later founded the International Capoeira Angola Foundation. Working as a team the three Mestres of ICAF have created a Capoeira Angola community with affiliate schools in the North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Cobra Mansa has researched all aspects of Capoeira Angola, from its origins in Africa through its turbulent history in Brazil. He has interviewed and videotaped many of the old masters in an effort to accurately understand and document the events leading up to the present. He is now a leading expert, not just on Capoeira, but on the berimbau (the musical bow), the Black Movement, and African martial arts, and holds a bachelors degree in physical education.
Although Cobra Mansa no longer lives in Washington DC he spends his time between Brazil and doing workshops around the world. We have five teachers in Washington DC who rotate teaching the different classes and have many years of experience in teaching and preserving Capoeira Angola.
Born in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Mestre Jurandir has dedicated the last 36 years of his life to the cause and promotion of Capoeira Angola. He was one of the pioneers of the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP). In 1990, he started the N’GOLO Angola group in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which is presently affiliated with the International Capoeria Angola Foundation (ICAF).
Throughout his career Mestre Jurandir has been a constant presence in the cultural arts scene of the city of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais. He has organized numerous events aimed at promoting Capoeira Angola as an important aspect of Afro-Brazilian culture and history among children and young adults.
One of Mestre Jurandir’s principle preoccupations has long been the promotion and teaching of Capoeira Angola to children. Through the art form, he seeks to instill in children not only the mental and physical discipline to perform the complex movements of the game, but also an understanding of the music accompanying the art form and the cultural and historical significance of its lyrics.
Mestre Jurandir has also conducted various workshops at college campuses throughout the United States as part of the ICAF’s international cultural exchange program and has been instrumental in the formation of ICAF affiliate groups in Austin, Texas, Oakland, California, Seattle, Washington, and Maputo, Mozambique.
Mestre Jurandir now travels back and forth between the United States and Brazil to supervise the foundation’s projects and efforts.
Born in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Valmir Santos Damasceno entered the world of Capoeira Angola in 1982 when he began training with the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelorinho (GCAP) under Mestres Moraes and Cobra Mansa.
In 1992, he received the title of Contra-Mestre while working on Capoeira Angola related projects with different social organizations, including the Associacao Livre de Moradores da Mangueira (ALMM), the Fundacao do Menor Trabalhador (FAMEB) and Projeto Axe among others.
In 1994, he left GCAP and began his own group, which later became part of Mestre Cobra Mansa’s International Capoeira Angola Foundation.
In August 2003, he received the title of Mestre at the 9th Annual International Capoeira Angola conference in Belo Horizonte. Mestre Valmir currently lives in Salvador and leads FICA-Salvador, the Brazil Head Branch of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation.
He has dedicated 23 years of his life to Capoeira Angola. He started capoeira with Mestre Rogerio, Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1986 and as Mestre Jurandir's student he was the leader of FICA-BH for 8 years.
In Belo Horizonte he has taught for social programs created by the city council such as Homeless People and for street kids, named Kids in the Park. There he also taught for a Youth Project created to teach African Brazilian music, drums, and dance known as Tambolele.
Since 2004 he has been leading the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, ICAF Seattle, founded in 1997 by Mestre Jurandir, as well as the TESC Capoeira Angola Club at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, which was started by Evergreen students under Mestre Jurandir leadership since 1998.
Mestre Silvinho has taught at middle and high schools in Seattle and vicinities since 2004 while supporting the development of other ICAF Groups in the USA. He has presented and have been supporting the development of ICAF African Brazilian Community Festivals in Seattle and Olympia.He has been traveling and presenting at conferences in the USA since 2000.