The man, the myth, the legend.
I am speaking of mestre Di Mola and for those who don’t know him, here is a (really) brief history…
Mestre Di Mola began capoeira in Rio with Mestre Camisa (the mestre of ABADÁ). In the 90’s, he established Capoeira Guanabara a in Rio De Janeiro. Several years later, he left Brazil for Europe. He landed in Sweden and began building his group there. For the past decade, Mestre Di Mola and Mestre Preguiça (founder of Omulu Capoeira) began building ties. Finally, in 2006, Mestre Preguiça and Mestre Di Mola made it official and fused their groups together to make one. This is how we are now Omulu Guanabara Capoeira.
I was still living in Madison, Wisconsin when I first heard of Mestre DiMola. I believe he was described as 9 feet tall and was able to take on lions and tigers. He once fought 30 ninjas with one arm behind his back and when he walks through Rio De Janeiro, every capoeirsta that sees him in the streets drops into a deep bow.
Okay, maybe I am exaggerating. But, when any capoeirsta spoke of Mestre Di Mola, it was always with awe and the utmost respect. For those of you that are not familiar with Mestre Di Mola, he is probably one of the most cutting edge mestres out there. Drop his name in Rio and you will receive the look of approval from just about any capoeirsta. Go in the roda with him and just prey that you didn’t upset him because not only is he a large man but he is incredibly fast with unbelievable vision.
As I just painted a picture of Mestre Dimola as a capoeirsta not to be messed with, I must admit, he is a very sweet and humble man. We wanted our students to know more about who Mestre Di Mola really is so we asked him to sit down with us after the LA batizado in November and ask him a few questions for our blog.
ANDORINHA: Let’s start with the basics. When and where did you start capoeira?
M. DIMOLA: I started in Rio in 1978.
ANDORINHA: As you were coming up, which capoeirstas influenced you the most?
M. DI MOLA: I was mostly inspired by my Mestre, Mestre Camisa. But there were also other capoeirstas, like Mestre Capixaba, who also really impacted how I play capoeira.
ANDORINHA: How did you end up in Sweden?
M. DI MOLA: Rio was too violent and is not a good place to raise a family. I spent a lot of time in Europe [playing capoeira] and when I got to Sweden I was really intrigued with the people and the culture. I found that Sweden was a good place for me to raise my family. Soon after I visited, I decided to move there to start another chapter of Capoeira Guanabara.
ANDORINHA: From your travels, what do you think are the main differences between capoeirstas from Brazil and Capoeirstas from countries outside of Brazil?
M. DI MOLA: This is a hard question to answer. I often find that there are stronger capoeirstas with better technique outside of Brazil verses capoeirstas inside Brazil. But the soul is different. Capoeirstas from Brazil have a different soul and it shows up in their capoeira. This ‘soul’ is developed from living day to day in Brazil, especially in the Favelas. These capoeirstas are surrounded by nightly festas with Samba and Pagode. There are Rodas everywhere, all the time. I remember when I was living in Brazil and every weekend I would be out listening and dancing to Samba and I would visit about five or six rodas a week. Outside of Brazil, open rodas happen infrequently and you have to work hard to seek out Brazilian music and culture. I find that outside of Brazil capoeirstas train harder and focus more on the techniques but many are missing that ‘soul’ of capoeira because they have little exposure to these things.
ANDORINHA: What advice would you give to a somebody just starting off in capoeira?
M. DI MOLA: Not to be too overly technical when learning the movements. Don’t be tense and worry about details so much. Don’t demand too much. Treat capoeira as a dance with and with tranquility and focus on developing the soul of capoeira.
ANDORINHA: What would be your advice for advanced students?
M. DI MOLA: Have a higher demand on yourself. Train hard and focus on technique and development of your ‘soul’ in capoeira. Be well rounded. Play berimbau. Learn to sing well. Also, build strong classes with atmospheres where students have great pride in their training and feel not only your student but as your friend.
ANDORINHA: Thanks for taking your time to talk with me today.
M. DI MOLA: Of course, anytime.