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HISTORY OF GRUPO ONDAS – MANDINGUEIROS DOS PALMARES
(and Contra-Mestre Tigri)

INTRODUCTION

 

Rhode Island is the smallest state of the United States and in many ways offers the least of many arts. In 1991, there were no Capoeira schools for 50 miles of Providence (the capital of Rhode Island ). Tigri began studying Capoeira (mainly the history, philosophy and terminology) in 1991 after watching a television program that featured 60 seconds of (Contemporary) Capoeira Regional. With no schools around, he, a junior high school student at the time, had no choice but to educate himself about the arts. Some books were available with certain explanations of the movements; and videos (i.e. from panther productions – by Mestres Reis and Amen) were also available to demonstrate additional materials.

In 1992, Tigri joined his first “group,” training and fighting underground (San Shou) with an anonymous organization in Massachusetts unknown to most of his family and friends. With lack of guidance or formal training, he suffered many careless injuries and eventually left the group in 1995. His training however aided him in learning the concepts of the martial arts, which inadvertently helped in his self-conceptualization of the Capoeira material, and other arts to follow, that he was trying to learn. Following the teachings of one of his instructors Sensai Li, he learned that most of the learning happens through one's eyes. With patience, carefully analysis and simply paying attention one could, in essence, capture some of the more intricate teachings of Capoeira – the malicia; the malendragem. Malandragem is truly a dificult concept to grasp on one's own. In this case, experience in the roda and even imitating other's movements can help in the learning process. It was in this organization that he was first called “Tiger” (Tigri in Creole) – because of his “fighting style.”

  Tigri doing a Flash Kick Tigri doing an Armada Duple Au Batido on Elbow  
 

TRAINING

In 1993, Tigri began experiencing feelings of frustration, for, the books and the videos had (of course) limited teaching power, and time was of essence. That is, he started to grow inpatient with his lack of personal control over his learning of Capoeira. Meanwhile, he also trained in other styles of martial arts as an independent student. Money was a big factor. His family was not able to afford formal training.

In mid-1994, Tigri, along with his cousin Fernando Fialho (Nuno), organized a Capoeira group at Classical High School in Providence , Rhode Island , with the objective of sharing the art of Capoeira. The group would meet and review the basics of the art, perform at diversity events and other school functions. This was obviously not enough. Of the eleven (11) members of the group, Tigri was the only one who consistently continued to pursue Capoeira.

In 1995, he learned of a Capoeira school not so far from his hometown. Without hesitation, he visited the school (academia). This was his first true experience with a Capoeira academy and instructor. Once to twice a month, he would visit the open rodas and try to gain some experience playing (still with no instructor or guidance). Due to his non-orthodox, self-learned style , he was often criticized and mocked by the other students (and sometimes the instructors)… (YEH – just prices you pay when you are a lone student and “beginner” at that )!

In the summer of 1996, he moved to the neighboring state to stay closer to the Capoeira academy (not even two blocks away) before leaving for College. Much to his disappointment, the instructor of the school turned him away because he had no money… but he still attended the open rodas (never missing a single occasion, demonstration or gathering) - Training 15-20 plus hours per week. The goal was to earn the instructor's respect and become accepted as a student (HEY – what do you expect from a kid who grew up with Asian martial arts movies? – “ Maybe I can show them that I am worthy…he he he ”). Regardless of his efforts, time, or skill, the prerequisite of funds was the central concern. In fact, the instructor grew angry when he outplayed the academy's students (But still would not accept him as a student) – irrational??

  Tigri aka Silas Pinto Tigri aka Silas Pinto  
 

That fall (1996), Tigri started attending the University of Rhode Island (URI) in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. His college experience consisted of a few activities – mainly , studying, working, training and attending open rodas and other Capoeira events in the neighboring states, visiting teachers and groups. Finding a “worthy” instructor was quite difficult (perhaps he was looking in the wrong places and the wrong people). He also started a group at URI teaching and promoting the teachings of Capoeira, in turn, helping himself gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the art. The group at URI started with only 2 students in October 1996. By the end of December, the group had 7 dedicated students to the teachings of Regional Capoeira . It was a success, and grew to 15 students by October 1997 (when it was recognized as an official student senate organization at URI).

By 1998, he had been training passionately and diligently , attending Batizados from Maine to Florida – gaining experience and searching for a group to which and from which he could belong and learn – and called himself a "boulevard capoerista", and sometimes , Ladron di Kapuera/Ladrão de Capoeira (“Capoeira Thief”). This meant he didn't belong to the “streets” or to any particular group or instructor. The term boulevard seemed to fit as a joke. His style became even more non-orthox – he didn't look like anyone he had trained with… since he had trained with so many different people. At first, this was bothersome to himself and to others he played… but as time progressed, it proved to be unique, effective and somewhat attractive to others in the roda…

He was also growing quite tired of the mistreatments and neglect in the rodas and the schools he attended. Everyone had something to prove . For many groups and on too many occasions, hospitality was frequently the last item on the agenda – “kicking a&&” and “representing” took precedence. After seven (7) years of commitment, training, searching, thirsting, craving and giving in the name of Capoeira and Brazil, he received nothing in return. That is – nothing but pain, scrutiny, and shhhhhh. However, he had grown as a dedicated and loyal student to Brazil and Capoeira (and found no instructor – from his meetings worthy of that gift of dedication and loyalty). In fact, he was able to outplay many of the “mestres” he encountered. At this time, he didn't even consider himself a good player, but more knowledgeable in the areas of culture, history, music, and philosophy. He still had much to learn - as we all do. Most of them were defeated before entering the roda, for they forgot to play… and tried too hard to fight… One shouldn't fight fire with fire!!!

Hey – gotta tell ya, dough – he had his share of beatings as well. But then again, his goal has never been, and never will be, to be #1 … he only compared his skills to his own potential and isn't worried or threatened by the skills of others. We all need people better than us from whom to learn and grow.

 

GRUPO ONDAS

 

In 1999, his junior year in college, Tigri met a professor at URI who “changed his life.” He helped him organize his priorities, set personal goals, and set the foundations for Grupo Ondas . It all came down to “ WHO and/or WHAT deserved his allegiance??? ” The Brazilians he had encountered neither cared about him, nor gave the time of day in Capoeira; and the groups and mestres with which/whom he trained didn't consider him a member or an “invited” guest and viewed him as a threat rather than a potential, loyal student. By this time, Kabuverdianidadi (refer to the History section) was the only consistent and worthwhile cause for which to fight. Born and raised in Cape Verde Islands (a small, unvoiced country) one develops a sense of patriotism. Since no Brazilian (to this point) was willing to use Tigri's skill to help promote and advance the teachings of Brazilian culture, he now viewed Capoeira as a vessel through which he could teach both Brazilian and Cape Verdean cultures to those willing and receptive to learning about these two beautiful countries.

New England (RI, MA, CT and NH, in particular) is saturated with Cape Verdean people. What better place to start teaching American-born Cape Verdeans about their (neglected) culture than in New England? AND through a beautiful art that he loved so much.

On March 1, 2000, on his Senior year in College, Tigri (now an instructor in Kempo Karate at New Wave Self Defense), Sifu Nuno and Sensei Carlos De La Cruz decided to accept their instructor's offer to inherit the school – New Wave Self Defense (a “ Christian -valued” martial arts school) in Warwick, Rhode Island. The Capoeira program and the first curriculum for Grupo Ondas was set soon thereafter in November of that year under Future Impact Martial Arts, Inc., a non-profit organization aimed at educating Rhode Island and Massachusetts children, adolescents, and adults about the physical, emotional and psychological benefits of the martial arts through Shaolin Kenpo Karate and “Capoeira.” The Capoeira group became known as the Brazilian and Cape Verdean Capoeira group, for they learned, taught and promoted the understanding and appreciation of the Brazilian and Cape Verdean cultures (musical for the most part – see CV and BR History Section) through Capoeira. The group then adopted, in 2002, the name Grupo Ondas (Waves) since they were a part of New Wave Self Defense, the Ocean state, and of course, Cape Verde Islands. We want to clarify that our group does not do capoeira from Cape Verde. We clearly recognize capoeira as an Afro-Brazilian martial art.

However, his allegiance was and still is to:

  • Brazil (for organizing and systematizing such a beautiful and inspiring art)
  • Cape Verde (for giving him the sense of self, a purpose, and a true motive for teaching Capoeira)
  • Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha (for creating and preserving these wonderful arts)
  • His students (of all backgrounds - for sharing his goal to spread the knowledge of the martial arts - respect,self-control, discipline, integrity, trust, honor, sincerity, love, peace, and joy (New Wave Christian Values) and the two cultures which are most dear to him – Cape Verdean and Brazilian

In 2004, Tigri met Mestre Chuvisco. Mestre Chuvisco was probably one of, if not the most respectful and accepting mestres Tigri had met. He was non-judgemental and very interested in learning more about Grupo Ondas, as opposed to criticizing or disapproving it's existence. He spent time observing the group and Tigri for a while and gave the group the respect he thought it deserved. Soon thereafter, he asked to be the supervisor of Ondas. At the time, there were a few other offers, but honestly, none that could compare to Mestre Chuvisco. And so the beautiful relationship between Ondas and Madingueiros began. In June of 2005, Grupo Ondas and Mandingueiros dos Palmares officially united, with Mestre Chuvisco being the overseer of both groups. In june 2006, Ondas adopted the Mandingueiros' ranking system. Mestre Chuvisco continues to be supportive of Ondas' obejectives, hence the name Grupo Ondas - Mandingueiros dos Palmares. Most importantly, the decision to join Mandingueiros was a group decision, as it should be. Without the students, there is no Grupo Ondas. It is what it is today because of the support and commitment of the students. (FROM TIGRI) With that being said, to all of you students who decided to take the hard, yet rewarding road with me, and are still here to tell about it - THANK YOU.

 
 
Fumaca, Jamaika, Tigri, and Marcio
 
CAPOEIRA = FRIENDSHIP
 

Today, Tigri is a student of Mestre Chuvisco. He does not “acknowledge” his passed “Mestres” , for they did not and do not possess, nor portray, the qualities of decent people. They practiced greed and selfishness, and do not care for their students' personal well-being. Also, Tigri is not ashamed to admit, and declares openly that he is proud to be largely a “ self-taught ” Capoeira instructor. What he is today is accredited to himself, God and the students/friends who faught along his side. His future in capoeira, however, is partly in the hands of his instructor, Mestre Chuvisco. On several occasions, mestres from different groups have approached him about teaching under them and leaving his dream of Grupo Ondas behind… but he has continued, faithful and loyal to his cause with hopes of creating a great group of Capoeirista dedicated to the art, Brazil and Cape Verde. We are proud to have Mestre Chuvisco as our guide, who supports our goals and encourages our ambitions.

Aside from being a fulltime instructor, Tigri graduated with his doctorate in school psychology at the University of Rhode Island in August of 2007. With his degree he is always trying to learn and develop more efficient ways of teaching students from all backgrounds and (physical) abilities; and conducting research about Cape Verdean culture at the University of RI – in the areas of parenting, acculturation, and corporal punishment. He is also, the director of Grupo Ondas Viajantes, the travelling demonstration team. He currently teaches in Warwick , Rhode Island, and supervises the Mandingueiro student mentors in RI, MA and VA. He always tries to acknowledge the mistakes his instructors and colleagues made, and is determined never to repeat them. His goal is to be open-minded, honest, self- less, caring, sharing, and giving to his students, who he also views as his teachers.

Grupo Ondas will continue to grow. Ondas continues to work with the hope that others will eventually view it as a entity striving to better its Capoeira as Bimba and other great martial artists intended – training as an ever-changing and situationally adaptable martial artist, growing with the flows of time and innovations. For all intent and purposes, “Our Capoeira” is simply Capoeira. Even now within the Mandingueiros, there are certain system differences that are only taught within our group... and certain traditions that are unique to the group (i.e. how students are given their “nicknames”). These differences exist in EVERY Capoeira group – no two Capoeira Groups are the same.

 
 

Here is an article for your review

University of Rhode Island's QUAD ANGLES Article: The Art of Capoeira

 
 

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Grupo Ondas Capoeira
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