Mestre Joao Grande is a 78-year-old master of the black Brazilian martial art called capoeira — a rich blend of music, dance and ritualized combat.
Brakkton Booker, NPR
The mestre (in center background) plays while watching a capoeira "jogo," or game in Los Angeles.
The mestre (in center background) plays while watching a capoeira "jogo," or game in Los Angeles. Brakkton Booker, NPR
Enslaved Africans brought the roots of capoeira with them when they were brought to South America in the 1600s, and the skill was taught and practiced in secret for hundreds of years. The martial art has evolved to become one of Brazil's most valued exports, practiced by millions of enthusiasts worldwide.
Mestre Joao Grande plays the berimbau.
The highest-ranking artists of the craft are the mestres, or masters. Mestre Grande is one of only two men alive chosen to head the elite capoeira academy founded by Mestre Pastinha, considered to be one of the founders of the modern capoeira movement.