Meeting Heroes

How I Shook Hands With a Legend

A short while ago, I received an e-mail regarding a workshop hosted by Quilombo do Queimado Capoeira* group (QDOQ). Some of my old Capoeira friends are part of this group, and after some rough times, it seems as if it’s on a great road to somewhere far beyond where they used to be.

I have to admit that the idea of attending the workshop was quite exciting, however, a friend from our dojo is moving back to Japan for good, and I had already promised that I would be there for her send-off.

I passed on the workshop, thanking QDOQ for their hospitality.

They sent an e-mail back indicating that Mestre Acordeon was to be teaching at the workshop.

My heart skipped a beat.

Bira Almeida, known as Mestre Acordeon (Mestre being Master and Acordeon being a nickname), is in my humble opinion, one of the greatest Capoeira masters in the world.

Needless to say the workshop seemed a lot more attractive now, however, I had made a promise.

I decided to go to the workshop before I went to the farewell party. I had some time. The farewell party started at 8, but I was going to be there at 9. The Workshop started at 7 up at York University Rec Centre so I figured I could meet with Mestre Acordeon and still have time to get back to the farewell party. Indeed, the Mestre himself had e-mailed me that he was hoping to meet me.

As I was driving up on Friday night, I felt like a giddy schoolboy, and I reminisced about how I’d approached Mestre Acordeon for guidance.

When I had ended my training previously, I felt a little bit overwhelmed by my options, and frankly a little lost. I felt that creation of a small group for people to learn and practice Capoeira was a good idea. It would be for those who were afraid to go to the other schools, and for those who needed practice outside of their own schools.

The idea needed validation.

I e-mailed Mestre Acordeon to find out his opinion. He seemed warm to the idea and invited me down to attend some of their events in San Francisco as well (Unfortunately, scheduling is the suck, and I couldn’t make it down there).

Mestre Acordeon is one of the greatest Capoeiristas in the world not only for his playing and singing, but also for his vast wisdom. He is a very tenacious historian, working to bring order to the multitude of stories that make up Capoeira legend. He has created a few books, and also has some internet resources available to people. I asked him for his permission to use this material to educate, as I felt that it was the most correct.

He gave his blessing there, too.

(In the two years that I corresponded with him, I also saw him on television in the Deadly Martial Arts series)

I pulled up and parked, and met up with an old friend (Camarao), and we caught up on old times as we walked into the Rec Centre together. Albert was there also.

Albert was one of the students that we had at our little Capoeira study group. Albert is already a decent martial artist, so imparting knowledge to him was an easy thing to do. It was neat to see him at the QDOQ workshop, warming up with students that had been there far longer, but looking comfortable. It was weird, but I felt proud.

It turns out that Mestre Acordeon was tied up in traffic and would be late.

I was a bit nervous, and slightly disappointed at the prospect of leaving before getting a chance to meet one of my heroes.

7:30 rolled around, and I told Albert to pass on my best, and also my apologies to the Mestre. I still couldn’t bring myself to leave, and figured that if I sped a bit I could make it home in time to get ready for the party.

At 7:40, I knew I had to go, and made ready to leave. As I approached the exit, who walks in but Bira Almeida himself.

He is greeted with applause.

When things calmed down, I made my way over to him (the rest of the people were still doing warm-up exercises)…

JORGE: Mestre. Hi, it’s me. Gente-Boa**

MESTRE ACORDEON: [Looking puzzled.] Who?
J: [At a loss for words.] Um…Jorge, Mestre. It’s me, Jorge.
MA: [Expression brightening immensely.] Jorge! I have looked forward to meeting you!
[J & MA Exchange a warm embrace]
MA: I’m glad you could make it up here.
J: I can’t stay Mestre. I promised someone that I would go to their farewell party. She is going back to Japan for good.
MA: Promises are important. Can you come tomorrow?
J: I have a wedding out of town.
MA: Oh, that’s too bad. I was looking forward to working with you.
J: Maybe one day I’ll come down to San Francisco, or Brazil.
MA: Yes. You are always welcome. That would be a great thing.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation. Needless to say I reluctantly left after having my photo taken with him, and he told me to keep writing to him, as he enjoyed our exchanges.

Jorge & Mestre Acordeon.
Click to enlarge…

I’ll never forget that day.

* – You might want to check out what Capoeira is if you don’t know.
** – In Capoeira everyone is eventually given a nickname. Mine means nice guy. Everyone who does Capoeira that knows me, knows me by this name. Ironically, Mestre Acordeon is the only Capoeirista that knows me by my real name…

12 Responses

  1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Always nice to see a new freindly face.
    Come back anytime!

  2. Really, trackbacks from a drug company, how stinking weird is that?

    Have a great day!

    C U round!

  3. Hi Jorge

    Well I actually came by to Thank You for your visit and kind comments … then I started to read your recent entry
    Oh my how wonderful that must have been an evening to remember! It is amazing sometimes we think of the world as so large and then it surprises us and lands on our doorstep..:) Thank You for supplying the link as I really wasn’t sure what Capoeira was, now I can go back a re read what I only had time to skim over.
    My Question is : Did you ever make it to the farwell party?
    Well hope so!:)

  4. How terribly exciting!

    I tried my hand/foot/body at capoeira once and absolutely loved it! But you’ll notice it was only once- yes- time/money constraints have so far kept me from joining for good and becoming a tough/graceful little capoerista. But it was a wonderful experience- everyone was so welcoming- the sport was so challenging. And watching the Mestre was just AMAZING! I for one would not be bored with any capoeira stories, and maybe I’d even be inspired to scrounge up the cash to go again!

  5. hi…really enjoyed your latest entry…dreams do come true…nice to read about them…thanks bill

  6. Hey Jorge,
    Wow, I am so excited for you! Even a minute with one of my heroes could posibly send me into quakes (meaning–>giggly, nervous, and sputtering). It is as if you were meant to see him you know? It seems so coincidental that you did make your way there and even though you were disapointed momentarily; he shows up. Strange the way that the world works isn’t it? And I also think (wow, I am using my brain for the first time since I’ve dyed it brown) that you are an incredible person for making sure that you did not break any promises to others. Okay, I already think that you’re wonderful; but that (and the pictures…ha ha) takes the cake.
    Have a rockin’ day,

  7. Wow. Thats a great story and shows how important it is to keep promises to people. Plus this gives you a good excuse to go down to Brasil, and in January or February, smack dab in the middle of Canadian winter, that can’t be bad.
    Have fun in Algonquin….




    gosh..I am not that loony to talk soooo… philosophicallly upon gettin a stupid visa card…..god damnit


    ” THE begining of a new kind of life, one with no self doubt, to fight for what u believe in……… J U S T COZ I GOT MYSELF A CREDIT CARDDDDD???? ”


    I think there s something terribly wrong with my writin skills….WHERE S THE LORD ..IS HE NOT WITNESSIN MY PATHETIC DOWNFALL………?????

    *angel* – He s on a world tour at the moment…ur calls wll be answered

  9. OMG





  10. It’s called humour, Bitha.

    I know you’re talking about your student visa.

    All this commotion for nothing.

    And no one is disputing that there is something wrong with you. 😉

  11. […] has been about four years since I have done Capoeira. I managed to meet Mestre Acordeon a short while go. That made me […]

  12. […] Comments Stretching My Legs … on Meeting HeroesJorge on Scrabulous Tipssarah on Scrabulous TipsLorna on Phenomenal WomanRichardK on […]

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