The son of Luiz Cândido Machado and Maria Martinha do Bonfim, Manuel dos Reis Machado known as
"Mestre Bimba" was born on November 23rd, 1900, at the "bairro do Engenho Velho"
in Salvador-BA, Brazil. The nickname "Bimba" came up due to a bet between his mother and the
midwife during his birth; his mother bet that he was going to be a girl and the midwife bet he would be a boy
. After he was delivered, the midwife said ...it's a boy, look at his "bimba" (male sexual organ).
Mestre Bimba started capoeira at the age of 12 at Estrada das Boiadas, today bairro da Liberdade, in Salvador. He was taught by "Bentinho",
an African that used to be the "capitão da Companhia Baiana de Navegação" (a navigation captain).
Mestre Bimba was and is so important to capoeira because he changed the destiny of it.
Capoeira was not an allowed practice during slavery.
The official prohibition of Capoeira remained even after slavery was abolished in May 13th, 1888.
In 1890, Brazilian president "Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca" signed an act that prohibited the practice
of capoeira nationwide, with severe punishment for those caught. It was nevertheless practiced by the
poorer population on public holidays, during work-free hours and similar occasions. Riots, caused also by
police interference, were common. Persecution and punishment were almost successful in eradicating
Capoeira from the "streets" of Brasil by the 1920's. In spite of the ban, Master Bimba
created a new style, the "Capoeira Regional". He incorporated new moves and techniques from "Batuque" (a vicious grabbling type of martial art that
he learned from his father), jiu-jitsu and boxing. The "Capoeira Regional" or "Luta Regional Baiana"
was then a more martial art oriented, effective, efficient and athletic style of capoeira.
After a performance at the palace of Bahia's Governor, Juracy Magalhães, Mestre Bimba was finally successful in
convincing the authorities of the cultural value of Capoeira, thus ending the official ban in the 1930's.
Mestre Bimba founded the first Capoeira school in 1932, the "Academia-escola de Capoeira Regional",
at the Engenho de Brotas in Salvador-Bahia. Previously, capoeira was only practiced and played on the streets.
However, capoeira was still heavily discriminated by upper class Brazilian society. In order to change the
slyness, stealthy and malicious reputation associated with capoeira practitioners at that time,
Bimba set new standards to the art. His students had to wear a clean, white uniform, show proof
of grade proficiency from school, show good posture and many other standards. As a result, doctors, lawyers,
politicians, upper middle class people, and women (until then excluded) started to join his school,
providing Bimba with better support. In 1936, Bimba challenged fighters of any martial art style to
test his Regional style. He had four matches, fighting against Vítor Benedito Lopes, Henrique Bahia,
José Custódio dos Santos (Zé I) and Américo Ciência. Bimba won all matches.
In 1937, he earned the state board of education
certificate. In 1942, Mestre Bimba opened his second school at the
"Terreiro de Jesus - rua das Laranjeiras"; today rua Francisco Muniz Barreto, #1.
The school is open until today and supervised by his ex student, "Vermelho-27".
He also taught capoeira to the army and at the police academy. He was than considered
"the father of modern capoeira". Important names to the Brazilian society at that time such as
Dr. Joaquim de Araújo Lima (Ex-Governador of Guaporé), Jaime Tavares, Rui Gouveia,
Alberto Barreto, Jaime Machado, Delsimar Cavalvanti, César Sá, Decio Seabra,
José Sisnando and many others were Bimba's students. Master Bimba was a coalman,
carpenter, warehouse man, longshoreman, horse coach conductor,
but mainly capoeirista; a giant with strong personality! Unhappy with false promises and
lack of support from local authorities in Bahia, he moved to Goiânia-GO in 1973 by
invitation from an ex-student. He died a year later, on February 15th, 1974 at the
"Hospital das Clínicas de Goiânia" due to a stroke.