Graõ Mestre Lotar
Mestre Lotar was trained in many martial arts. But for him, capoeira is special for it healed him from a mysterious medical condition and has given him strength and courage. His posture and martial arts skills belied his gentleness and compassion toward his students and those around him. He helped paved the way for many youths to find a brighter future through capoeira.
My first steps in the world of martial arts were at the age of 12 when I sat watching a man practice Karate on a field close to my home. I was so absorbed by his art that hours would pass without taking my eyes off him. I would even turn up at his doorstep in the morning and accompany him to his place of training. One day I worked up the courage to ask him to train. At first he was reluctant to take me on as a student but when he saw my persistence he gave in.
I trained hard and by the age of 14 I started wanting to put my skills to the test. As there was a lack of Karate opponents, I started frequenting Capoeira rodas where I knew I would find subjects willing to take me on. I didn’t think highly of Capoeira and don’t understand the art form. I made jokes about the guys who ‘threw their legs and arms aimlessly’ never engaging in any real combat. Being a brute, I even told the Capoeiristas that if we ever got into a brawl, I would stomp on their heads.
However, one day I went to a holiday roda in which I saw Mestre Cabeça playing and I couldn’t take my eyes of him. I spend dawn till dusk watching him execute his movements to perfection in a tactful yet charming game. He was like an elastic band and could bend his spine so easily as he could fold a piece of paper. I was so impressed that I asked him where he gave classes and decided to do some training with him.
Capoeira conquered me within an instant, and before I knew it I was a Capoeirista myself. I trained Karate in the morning and Capoeira in the evening. On the days when there was no Capoeira class I would accompany Mestre Cabeça to a roda carrying the atabaque drum on my back.
Soon enough, Capoeira changed my whole life. It cured me from a mysterious medical condition, which caused me to faint all the time. While I was training Karate I still frequently blacked out and remember waking up in hospital with all sorts of medical equipment connected to me and the doctors shaking their heads unable to explain my condition. However, from the time I started doing Capoeira, my blackouts became less and less frequent until one day they finally stopped. This means that I could stop taking the medications I was on. In fact, Capoeira cured me from a lot of things, from the loss of my mother at an early age. Playing instruments, singing and doing acrobatics made me happy and gave me a lot to live for.
Even though I had fallen in love with Capoeira I never let go of Karate and even became interested in other martial arts. I started boxing and because of my cross training I was able to progress very quickly. Being of solid build, at the age of 24 I entered and won two heavyweight championships. In 1990 I also started training Kung fu but after 3 years I stopped due to the unfortunate death of my beloved Master.
I continued my Capoeira training and was encouraged by Mestre Cabeça and Mestre Gegê to participate in a Capoeira Championship. I was not sure about it, but due to the persistence of them I soon found myself standing in a big hall full of well-known capoeiristas. I was not nervous, I trained hard and hit hard and being hard headed. I knew that I could resolve anything with a fight. In fact that is how I got my Capoeira name. At the time there was a cartoon about a magician and his assistant. The magician, much like Mestre Cabeça, resolved everything in a peaceful and tactful manner. His assistant on the other hand, incidentally a black, bold guy like me, always resorted to violence. That is why I did not feel nervous. Not until the names of the heavyweight competitors were announced.
For lack of heavier competitors I was announced to be Mestre Hulk’s opponent! That is when I began to worry. I was not even a graduado (Black belt equivelant) and he was already a well-respected and well-known Capoeirista. However, I did not have much time to fret as I was already standing in the middle of the roda listening to the rules of the game: best of three rounds; the competitor that managed to force the other out of the roda with tactical fighting and skillful game would win each round.
Then it began. I used all my force and kicked in every direction possible. But it was all in vain. Mestre Hulk was nailed to the ground. His base was rock solid and he took me out in the first round. Somehow in the second I managed to push him out of the roda but he came back fighting for glory in the third. At that point I realized that my size and strength were not particularly advantageous in that game and I resorted to using technique I had learned from Mestre Cabeça. I was amazed that pure technique allowed me to stretch the last round out to the fifth and final minute. However I was hit by a pisão (Big Sidekick) that awarded Mestre Hulk the game. As I listened to the presentation of the trophies, unhappy with my loss, I assured myself I had not lost to just anyone but to Mestre Hulk – a great Capoeirista. However when my name was announced as a Capoeirista who had used the best technique, my heart started to jump and I could not contain the emotions that started whizzing through my body.
When I reflect on my life as a Capoeirista, it hurts me to think that I made jokes about this art form that has given me so much. It has allowed me to travel the world, given me strength and courage, cured me of disease and opened the door for many long lasting friendships. For that I thank God and Capoeira itself. I on the other hand, gave it nothing more than hard training but wish that I could give it so much.”
– Luis Carlos da Silva (Mestre Lotar),Rio de Janeiro