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The philosophy behind the sequences of Mestre Bimba

Back in 2015 I had the opportunity to finally meet Mestre Acordeon, twice! He was the main guest of two events I visited and I got the chance to follow his classes. The workshops of both events were almost identical: they were based on the original sequences of movements which Mestre Bimba invented back in the day. Mestre Bimba used the sequences to teach his students how to move in the roda, and how to transform from one movement into another (there is a lot more to it than just that).

I had practiced the sequences before during other workshops, so I had some experience with the combinations. But I was excited to finally learn the sequences from someone who had learned them first hand from Mestre Bimba. When other capoeiristas explain or teach the sequences, or you look them up on YouTube, you are never truly sure of how close they resemble the original exercises. That’s because those people probably never studied directly under Mestre Bimba. But with Mestre Acordeon I was sure to learn the sequences as they were supposed to be performed originally.

Struggling

I always had the idea that you had to perform the sequences exactly in the right way. Like there was only one “official” way to execute them correctly. So when I paired up with another guy and started practicing the first two sequences I did my best to perfectly mimic the original moves from the Luta Regional Baiana. And it made me struggle, because a queixada or meia lua de frente is executed differently than from what I learned. Fortunately I was not the only one struggling with the sequences.

The purpose of the sequences

Mestre Acordeon saw this and called us together. I thought he was going to tell us we should pay more attention and take our time to learn the combinations. And that’s where he totally surprised me. What he told us was the opposite of that. The Mestre explained to us that the main purpose of the sequences isn’t to replicate them perfectly one after another. The goal of training the sequences is getting used to play with each other using an array of basic movements. It doesn’t matter that it was actually your turn to kick first, or that you were supposed to start with a left kick and you started with a right one. If you hesitate for a moment because you forget what the next movement is, don’t stop your ginga to think, but keep going, even if it means you have to step outside the sequence for a moment.

This all doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter in the roda. Every moment in the roda is different. You don’t have to kick left and right before your opponent can attack. You don’t have to keep your ginga aligned all the time. And you certainly don’t stop mid-game to think about your next step. And that is what the sequences are really about: learning to play in the roda.

I think it is probably one of the most effective ways to learn to play fluently and I really like the methodology.

Applying the sequences in your style

With that idea in mind it is very easy to apply this methodology in your own style of capoeira. That’s because the exercise isn’t limited to the original movements from Capoeira Regional. Mestre Bimba put together the 8 sequences using movements he thought were the most important to learn. You can do the same thing for your class. Pick a set of the most important / most used attacks, evasive moves and floreios and combine them in various sequences.

Use the set of sequences you created to learn your novice students how they can play in the roda. They’ll learn to be creative with a limited set of techniques. And after some time they’ll develop a feeling how you can transform from one movement into another without thinking.

At least, that is how I interpreted Mestre Acordeon’s classes.

One thought on “The philosophy behind the sequences of Mestre Bimba

  1. Seeing that I’ve thought the same when I started teaching, I have to say that you got the right interpretation.
    Because actually, according to “filhos de Bimba”, Mestre Bimba used to teach the sequence in different manners. And I just love the way Mestre Accordeon took his master’s teaching.

    Great Post

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