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  Topic: That song
  2007-04-18 18:38:27
hey guys!!!you know how capoeira songs usually have another meaning behind them,eg "cordao de ouro" can refer to a nice set of clothes as well as the capoeira group( i know thats a lame example, but could'nt think of n e thing else.) well you know that song 'Zoom zoom zoom, capoeira mata um" just wondering if n e 1 knows other meaning to it. hit me back.
  2007-04-18 20:28:32
ah there are 2 versions to that song I know of... one is the infamous "only the strong" soundtrack and the other is one I have heard Mestre Suassuna sing:
"Agradeca a escravidao, quem quiser que ache asneira
Se nao fosse a escravidao ailele! nao existe a capoeira!
zum zum zum capoeira mata um"....

I don't know the translation exactly or literally, but it gives acknowledgement to slavery. Because without slavery there would be no capoeira.
  2007-04-18 21:35:27
The www.capoeira4all.org website has this version:

Olha eu vou cantar
quem quiser pode ouvir
quem quiser diga que n�o
olele quem quiser diga que sim
agradeco a escravid�o
quem quiser achar asneira
mais se n�o fosse o escravo olele n�o existia Capoeira
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
Cuidado com preto velho
ele pode machucar
que no tempo da escravid�o olele
s� jogava o pe pro ar
zum zum zum
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
O filho do meu patr�o
ia para escola pra estudar
mais a caneta do escravo olele
era no canavial
zum zum zum
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
mata um, mata dois e mata tr�s
se eu tive um berimbau
mata todos em uma vez
zum zum zum
Zum zum zum capoeira mata um
Zum zum zum capoeira mata um
Santo Antonio Pequenino
e meu santo protetor
cabra voc� n�o me assombra
na Capoeira sou doutor
zum zum zum
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um
Zum zum zum Capoeira mata um


Look I will sing
Who wants can listen
Who wants can say no
Who wants can say yes
I am thankful for the slavery
Who wants may think it's stupid
But without the slave Capoeira wouldn't exist
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Carefull with the old negro
He can hurt
Cause in the slaverytime,
they just played with the foot in the air
zoom zoom zoom
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
The child of my boss
went to school to study
But the pencil of the slave
was in the sugarcane fields
zoom zoom zoom
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Kills one, kills two and kills three
If I had a berimbau
I would kill all in one time
zoom zoom zoom
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Saint Little Anthony
is my patron saint
Big guy you don't scare me
in Capoeira I am expert
zoom zoom zoom
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
Zoom zoom zoom Capoeira kills someone
  2007-04-19 15:12:40
nice question Ra.

I have just finished reading 'Ring of Liberation' by J. Lowell Lewis which specifically mentions this song.
For everyons interest and to avoid putting my own spin on it, I quote from p167.

"The zum zum is an icon of the sound of the berimbau, used in many songs, and similar references to capoeira 'killing' people are also common. It is true that people ahve dide, on rare occasions, while playing the game, but this is almost always a tragic accident and not something one would routinely sing about. For the most part, I believe songs of this type refer to the metaphorical death of a fall, which is a common occurence. A related phrase, also heard frequently, avows that capoeira is 'de matar' ('to the death' or 'for killing'). This phrase is difficult to translate and has a more ambiguous sense. In some contexts, it may refer simply to the iconic 'death' of a takedown, but usually it seems to have a more serious intent. Capoeira is, after all, a martial art that canbe (and has been) applied in life-or-death situations and should therefore be practiced with a 'killing intent'. This does not mean that one should try to kill one's opponent in the ring, but rather that one should be aware of the power of one's attacks, take the attacks of one's opponent seriously , and respect the power of the sport while practicing it. I believe this is the intent of hte phrase 'de matar' in most contexts, and in this it is similar to practices in other martial arts, in which students rehearse the techniques as if their lives depended on them."

If you are interested the book has a whole chapter titled 'Brincar - Verbal Play' which discusses many different songs, the contexts of the songs and the concept of verbal dueling.

RE: Cordao de ouro - I believe the literal translation is 'Rope (or sash) of gold'. Another meaning (from the same book), it has been used as an honorific title for Besouro, as in "Besourinho Cordao de Ouro"
  2007-04-19 17:32:46
It's been a few months since I jumped on my high internet horse, so... Time to get back in the saddle :-)

Personally I'm no longer fond of this song. I used to be, but after putting a lot of thought into the meaning of the lyrics I can't get into it anymore.

For a start, the verse that says "agradeco a escravidao" makes me uncomfortable. From any angle, I don't feel right saying that I'm thankful for slavery. To me, capoeira owes its development to a RESISTANCE to slavery, not to slavery itself.

As for the mention of killing in the song, I'm not into that either. Mestre Jogo de Dentro has expressed this sentiment before. In one of his ladainhas he talks about how capoeira in Bahia is hyped to tourists as "a danca de matar" (the dance that kills), about how the governor of Bahia sells capoeira to the people. There is a line from another song he composed: "O jogo da capoeira e um jogo bonito, nao matar ninguem" - 'The game of capoeira is a beautiful game, it kills no one'. I feel that whether using the terms "mata um" or "de matar" in a symbolic or literal sense, it doesn't help to spread a positive message about capoeira. It's true that people have died in rodas in the past, this is something that should be acknowledged and mourned, not ignored while talking about killing in a symbolic sense or celebrated in bravado bouts of bragging about how deadly ones art is.
  2007-04-19 19:19:30
Cheers amanhecer!! i think thats the answer i was looking for.
  2007-04-20 09:41:07
yeah thanks for that amanhecer, very interesting.
  2007-04-23 16:05:41
HeY ziG ZaG i ThInK YoU MaY bE a LiTtlE ofF SuBjEct wIth YoUr AnSweR. It SeEms aLl ThAt rA FeLLa WaS Ask'N WaS If AnyOnE FrOm YouR GroUp Had AnY BaCkRouNd InFo On ThAt PArtIcUlaR SonG.
  2007-04-24 12:30:19
I'd like to read Ring of Liberation and the library doesn't seem to have a copy. If anyone is willing to lend me a copy, or is placing an order with Amazon in the near future (to save making a one-off order), please let me know: dayle dot m at gmail dot com.

  2007-04-24 12:46:12
Yo B-rIzZle.....gee it must be hard typing every second letter as a capital....so 133t...im impressed but make sure you dont get OOS/RSI!
  2007-04-24 19:01:46
Yeah i would'nt mind having a look at that "ring of liberation" it sounds pretty good.
  2007-04-24 22:52:32
Who are you B-rizzle
  2007-04-25 23:22:19
Hey Zigue Zague.
I think you have taken an interesting point of view for discussion.
To be thankfull for the enslavement and harsh treatment of any people is rediculous.
But I doubt that song is necessarily literal, or rather acknowledging that something good (capoeira) has come from it.
It's like the obstacles we all face in life, it's upto us if we see them as positive or negative.
I think that version of the song above is slightly different to the track I have heard of Mestre Suassuna.

Oh and doesn't Mestre Jogo De Dentro also refer to the aspect of danger in capoeira?
Wouldn't that mean if something is considered dangerous, it can be potentially deadly?

  2007-04-26 01:39:38
Do you play capoeira b-rizzle? do you know anything else about this song? whats wrong, are you shy? whats your point of view?
  2007-04-26 13:34:22
"Ring of liberation" is very interesting but it takes very academic perspective. Can be quite dry and analytical in places and uses some complex dance diagramatic notation to describe ginga .....so not exactly 'light' reading.

But worth a read for sure!

There are some other very interesting looking books recently released too including the third in Nestor Capoeira's trilogy and the one Jesus bought from Mestre Marcelo "capoeira : the jogo de angola from luanda to cyberspace (volume one) / by gerard taylor - isbn: 1-55643-601-7 (pbk : v.1 )"
  2007-04-27 16:10:50
Indeed, I may have deviated from the original question, but I felt like expressing my opinion on this particular song.

Feiticeiro, I understand what you're saying about viewing obstacles as a positive thing, but I don't think it's really appropriate in this case. When I enter the roda with you we may have diametrically opposed goals (for me to take you down and avoid being taken down, and vice versa for you, for example), but I enter into the game with the conviction that if we both pursue those goals we're going to learn something from it and make each other better. I don't think the same can be said about the slave trade. Even if you agree with the old saying "what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger", it's important to remember that slavery DID kill an enormous number of innocent people. For these reasons, the words "agradeco a escravid�o" stick in my throat and I can't sing them, nor am I inspired to respond to them (especially not with "zoom zoom zoom, capoeira kills one").

I'm sure Mestre Jogo de Dentro does refer to the aspect of danger in capoeira, but I believe the sentiment here is about the image of capoeira. I don't believe that promoting it as the dance that kills and singing about killing people reflects on capoeira positively. As I said before, people have died in rodas before and we should recognise that, but how do you think we should recognise it? The mood of this song seems to me to be one of bravado not of mourning or reverence.

Besides, long before I started thinking this way on the lyrics of this song, Mazda killed it for me!

It's been a few years since I read Ring of Liberation but I agree totally with your description of it Amanhecer. I must admit that I only read the first page of the final chapter before deciding it was way too academically analytical to spend my time on. I enjoyed the rest of the book though, and it's nice to get a different perspective for a change, most capoeira books are written by Mestre's or at least instructors. Gambi can probably demonstrate the ginga according to the laban notation if you ask him nicely :-)
  2007-04-27 18:13:14
I'm not one to advocate bad things (especially slavery, since it's also directly a part of my own history, only in the US with African Americans, rather than Afro-Brasilians, but hey, that makes us family way back right?) but I thought I'd add my 2 (euro) cents here... It's mostly just a collection of random thoughts, not necessarily my opinion, but looking at this topic from various angles... Maybe... Who knows? I'll see how it comes out, lol.

I'm inclined to agree with Feits on the obstacles having the potential to be positive things thing. Obviously slavery is not at all a positive thing, but I think it can be seen as a positive thing that capoeira has been borne of it. Perhaps it makes more sense to look at it in such a way that without those extremely oppressive circumstances, capoeira might not have evolved with such depth to it; without the need to hold onto ones self and fully internalise and create a world within one's self since the outside one was so horrible, capoeira might not have evolved with such an emphasis on freedom and/of personal expression; without the influence of negative and evil people (i.e. slave owners/traders) capoeira might not have evolved with such an emphasis on reading other people and keeping one's intentions hidden; without the discrimination and separation apparent during those times, the slaves would not have felt such a need to become a community, which is also reflected today in our capoeira. It seems to me that while there are a lot of arts in the world, only those that have been borne of oppressive/extreme circumstances contain such a depth to them. Without slavery, perhaps capoeira would have just been another dance...

Mestra Sorriso made a beautiful comment on oppression with regards to capoeira... She commented on how when one can move in such a way; play music in such a way; sing and laugh and joke and belong to a community in such a way...No one can truly oppress them... That no matter how oppressive the outside circumstances may be, if one can free themselves in the way that happens when we play capoeira, noone can hold them down. I think it's a beautiful point, and I'm inclined to agree.

Of course, this still leaves the point of so many dying because of the slavery... Which is of course a horrible thing. I have my reservations about being grateful for anything that has or can harm anyone in any way, but I think a little context is necessary in this instance. The words 'Agradeco a escravidao' indeed are not the most delightful, but I don't think it's fair to consider them alone in this case. As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), this song is being sung from a post-slavery perspective... So, while it's terrible that so many died, it has already happened, and there's nothing that can be done about it as it's in the past. I don't mean that in a 'therefore we should just accept it' kinda way, just that all we really can do is recognise the wrong-doings, but realise that something else has grown out of it... This beautiful art that we're all a part of and that is changing lives the world over... Saving lives even. And it's true that without the slavery, we wouldn't have it. I'm struggling a little to make the point I really wanna make, so I apologise, but hopefully you can kinda see what I mean. The person who wrote these words did not in any way mean that they were actually grateful that slavery had existed... Just that they're grateful that such circumstances in which capoeira could be born existed. But then again, it can be argued that capoeira is not worth the lives of those slaves, no matter how beautiful and life changing it may be. Hmm.

To me it's kinda like being grateful for any negative circumstances which can be overcome to leave you something positive...For instance poverty... Poverty is not fair or good for anyone... Noone should have to go cold or hungry or watch their children suffer or give up everything they have to keep their kids alive...or anything else like that... But at the same time, people who experience these things grow up to appreciate what really matters a lot more... And with a deeper understanding of the world I guess. Kinda like how I've always felt glad that I'm not a middle class white male aged 18-45... There's absolutely nothing wrong with it obviously, I mean NO offence to anyone, it's just that I feel for me being a lower class, black (well mixed-blood), female from a single parent home has allowed me to be able to empathise with the lowest common denominator easier, and meant I've had a head start in learning a lot about the world and how people work. And for that I'm grateful...Not for the discrimination, but for what it has allowed.

And on one final note... About the killing... Since we don't know specifically what the writer was writing about, as with most songs, they're very open to interpretation. Could we perhaps take the sentiment of this song as more symbolic? Perhaps the 'one' that capoeira is killing is another oppressive situation? Perhaps the song could refer to the death of slavery and oppression... After all is that not what Capoeira did?

"Kills one, kills two and kills three
If I had a berimbau
I would kill all in one time "

Could perhaps be read as smaller victories for capoeira, maybe initially as it collected momentum and developed, but with the power of the berimbau to control the game it is possibly to overcome limitless obstacles? I dunno, just a thought... Anyone care to comment?

Thanks for reading/scrolling by real quick...
  2007-04-27 20:47:12
I think Suassuna's lyrics makes a point that slavery and capoeria have a interwoven HISTORY like alot of other things. If you look at Suassunas work these days there are teachers all over the world and many of those have a great opportunity beyond their existing situation regardless of their background. It's true what he says, but just not beautiful.

For many Brasilians and people alike capoeira is a 'way-out' of some form of opression. People from wealthy backgrounds, the daily grind etc find capoeira as a 'way-out' and in some cases people are desparate.

What Mestre Jogo de Dentro does talk about alot is how as capoeira has spread over the world how the significance of the fight has changed and it seems to be one of a political battle rather than that of the foot.

Peace out

  2007-04-27 23:36:01
Nice answer Rastinha i really liked the part about "being grateful for a negative circumstance which can be overcome to leave you with something positive" I've certainly been through some negative circumstances in my life(as we all have) and without those bad times i would not be the person i am today.even better being able help out ,when other people are going through similar tough times as you. does that make sense??
  2007-04-29 22:04:30
Again, I understand the principal of seeing an obstacle as a positive thing, and yes Ra, what you're talking about does make sense. I just don't think it's a suitable way to view slavery. One can be grateful for capoeira and acknowledge slavery's role in forming it with out being grateful for slavery itself. If it's true that "The person who wrote these words did not in any way mean that they were actually grateful that slavery had existed" then personally I'd wonder if the song doesn't need to be reworded. Maybe I'm quibling here, but to me this is an important point. Regardless of whether the song was composed after slavery or not, I still don't agree with being thankful for it.

In terms of taking "mata um" as being symbolic, I feel I have to repeat 2 points here: part of this is about the way that capoeira is promoted to the public, and for most of those in Brazil, when they see capoeira and hear the words "mata um", I believe they'll interpret it literally. I admit I have no evidence for this, it's just my opinion. Secondly, we mustn't forget that people have been killed in rodas in the past; using the words "mata um", symbolically or not, seems insensitive to me.

Of course all of this is my own opinion from my own perspective and in the world of capoeira I'm an absolute no-one. But I do feel the need to play certain games here in our virtual roda. Looking forward to playing a whole lot more with you guys in the real roda at the Hui!
  2007-04-30 02:00:09
Your points about "being thank full for slavery" are valid bro, it does sound kinda funny when it is said like that. I think we might have to find the dude who wrote this song and ask him a few questions. Who is Little Saint Anthony? Is he a Orixa? Is he the equal to Ogun?or is that Sao Bento.
  2007-04-30 14:44:04
Candomble is similar to capoeira in that there are many different groups ('houses' or 'nations') that practice in many different ways, but yes, at least in Candomble in Bahia, Santo Antonio represents the metal smith and warrior Ogun. I'm not sure if the lyrics in this song are referring solely to Saint Anthony or to Ogun or both, but Santo Antonio/Ogun has long been associated with capoeira. Two of the most famous academies in Bahia (or the world for that matter) - the academy of Mestre Joao Pequeno and the academy of Mestre Moraes - are housed in the Forte do Santo Antonio. Sao Bento generally represents Omolu/Babaluaye, the Orixa associated with illnesses.

I think the most famous version of this song is the one on Mestre Suassuna's 2nd(?) CD, but I'm not sure if M. Suassuna wrote the song or not. Mungunza might know, or of course Mestre Brabo. I don't know how comfortable I'd feel questioning a Mestre as high up as Suassuna, but I would like to hear more about this from whoever first composed the song.
  2007-05-01 09:08:58
Ola Ziggie,

O segredo de sao cosme, quem sabe e sao damiao haha!

agua de beber!

  2007-05-01 09:18:52
I think it's important to think about slavery as being part of the history of capoeira, the context is the important part for me personally.

Someone good to ask about the phrase 'mata um' is in town this week. I'll ask him and get back to you guys.

  2007-05-07 13:50:36
So who was the visitor, Mugz? Did you ask him about the phrase 'mata um'?
  2007-05-08 00:25:14
yeah, I was gonna ask that last night hehe
Falar colega... :-P
  2007-05-08 13:00:52
I think it's Uncle Jim from Murupara...
  2007-05-09 20:28:23
The visitors are Mestre Marrom and Mestre Boca Rica and I havent had a chance to ask them yet. I got a feeling though that the phrase is associated with capoeira regional and comtemporary capoeira cos haven't yet heard the phrase used in a song of capoeira angola (I'm probably wrong though). If I find out I'll drop a line on the web, or you can ask Uncle Bimm.
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