This feature is designed to spark your interest in researching the world of capoeira's vocabulary, history, and philosophy.

Our Capoeira Wiki-Word series invites you to research the word of the week and post your definition(s) and translations. At the end of each week, the entries will be reviewed and then summarized into a translation and a definition of the Capoeira Wiki-Word of the week.

Submit your entries in the comments section below!

This week's Capoeira Wiki-Word is:

Malandragem

 

Update

 

 

"Call me back , love... I'm with a client right now." "Hello, Maria. Would you open the garage door for me?" -"Sure, now get off the phone while you're driving it's illegal!" "Don't worry... I'm calling from a pay phone."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Espantalho did some great research for this update (made our job easy).

 

From Capoeira: A Brazilian Artform by Mestre Acordeon page 2

"The capoeira is also called capoeira angola, jogo de capoeira, brincadeira de angola, roda de capoeira, capoeiragem, malandragem, and vadiação."

 

From The Little Capoeira Book by Mestre Nestor Capoeira page 145

"Malandro: A rogue or hustler.   The malandro is a fixture in capoeira lore and in Brazilian popular culture in general.   Malandragem is a tricky or deceitful act."

 

From Roots of the Dance Fight Game by Mestre Nestor Capoeira pages 47-48

"The Malandro is not a Warrior like Ogum nor a Brave like Besouro, Manduca, and Nascimento Grande.
On the contrary.  The Malandro 'despises' violence and physical force which, in his way of seeing things, are characteristics of the stupid and ignorant.  And that is a basic difference between malandragem and the macho way.

The Malandro works through his intelligence, seduction, charm, and a deep and intuitive knowledge of life and human psychology.  His tools are words.   His greatest skill is the ability to analyze people and situations with a speed and cunning that cannot be grasped by us 'suckers,' 'schmucks,' 'normal' people who believe in moral laws and are chained by the conventions of the group or social class to which we belong."

 

From Roots of the Dance Fight Game by Mestre Nestor Capoeira page 53

"The malandro knows that his success depends, in most cases on the victim's greed and intention of taking advantage of him.   And many time he presents himself as an inexperienced newcomer to the Big City.

The 'winning lottery ticket' sting is a classic one but still works.  The malandro, dressed as an 'innocent soul' from a small town, attracts the attention of his victim.   He is looking at the lottery numbers and has a ticket in his hand.   It is obvious that he won but he is confused.  The greedy 'client' on his own initiative says he wants to 'help'.  This is when the malandro shines.   He must act so that the 'client' himself is the one who initiates.  He must aroust the 'client's' bad intentions.  The comedy ends quickly: the 'client' runs off to 'do a favor', to collect the prize for his 'new friend'.  He leaves something of value as a guarantee. Of course the lottery ticket is fake."

 

From Roots of the Dance Fight Game by Mestre Nestor Capoeira pages 53-55

I once met a charming malandro in Europe who presented himself as a dance and capoeira teacher.  He dressed and acted so outwardly as a pimp and showed off with such an outrageous innocence that he made people laugh.  He arrived to a unknown discotheque in a foreign country and in half an hour became the heart of the party.

He was an excellent dancer.  Very shallow, vain, funny, and excessively well dressed.  He was not particularly good-looking and was slightly short.   I remember him looking at a picture of Tom Cruise, smiling and saying, "God doesn't give wings to snakes."  Which meant that if he were as beautiful (a snake with wings) as the actor, women would be endangered.

He promenaded among the 'gringas' as if he were a small pet or one of those charming homosexuals women relate to so well.   Sooner or later he would take one of them to bed.   She would fall passionately in love, for he was excellent at the tasks set before him.  Days later her new lover would be arrested for drugs or for some other small counterfeit business.  He would be in danger of going to prison or, even worse, being sent back to Brazil.

'I did it for you,' he would confess to her with thick tears rolling down his face, 'I couldn't stand you having to pay the bills anymore.'   And then suddenly his face would open up in the most beautiful and childish smile, 'I wanted to buy you those lovely, beau-ti-ful high heeled gold sandals you fancied so much.'

But there would be a way that he (the shallow, funny guy who turned out to be so good in bed) might stay in Europe.  The (fake) cops who arrested him could be bought for $5,000 (depending on the victim's status, the sum could go up to $20,000).   The lady would pay the money to the fake policeman, a friend of the malandro-gigolo.

Up to this point, nothing new.  This is a classic and well-known sting.  It is performed by men and women every day, all around the globe.

But our charming friend invented a 'creative' second act.  He would return to the arms of his lady lover instead of disappearing with the fake policeman and the money.  Passion and sex would reach flaming peaks of ecstasy in the following days.  After all, this was love redeemed at the cost of money, society's top value.

One day, in a fancy restaurant, the malandro suddenly turns pale.  The tough-looking guy watching them from another table was the gangster who lent him the money for the failed transaction in which he was caught by the cops.  He runs home and packs his bags.  "I must flee or be murdered'.   So the lady 'client' would pay another $5,000 to the fake gangster and only then would the malandro disappear.

By hitting the same client twice in a small period of time, this sting is now known as the dobradinha (little double hit) in Europe.

The strange thing is I met this same malandro-gigolo with some of his ex-clients, years later in Brazil.  The ladies had unveiled the whole plot but strangely enough were spending the summer at the malandro's mother's house.   In a certain sense these ladies owned part of it.

I was intrigued as to the relationship between the malandro and his ex-victims.   He explained it to me. There was a deep understanding between them.  'Those women wanted to cheat me.  They didn't have joy or sensuality and wanted to steal mine for themselves.  And I showed them how cruel they had been in the past.  Making fun of some ugly guy who invited them to dance, laughing at some fat girl's hat.   They were cruel for the pleasure of it; I do it in order to survive.'

Now, with time and the understanding of the whole situation, the ladies 'were much smarter and doing very well with their new boyfriends.'  His lady clients had learned a bit of malandragem for the small sum of $10,000.   'Nothing in comparison to what they got back.'"

 

From http://bahia-capoeira.com/blog/2007/12/the-mysterious-woman-by-mestre-bola-sete/

The Mysterious Woman – by Mestre Bola Sete

Salvador, Bahia, 1910 – There was a mystical atmosphere in the city during those days, surrounding its mixed-race people, who were enchanted by Capoeira, batuque, samba rodas, and candomblé.  The nights were tranquil and you could walk the streets even at very late hours without running the risk of being mugged.

But then news of various night time assaults swept the city.  Everyone was talking about them.  The most perplexing thing was that the crimes were said to be committed by a woman dressed in black who would wait on a dark street corner.  When the victim approached, she would start a conversation, and then unleash a practiced blow that would incapacitate him while she ran off with his possessions.  Of course, the subject was widely discussed in Capoeira rodas, and each person had their own opinion about who the woman was.

One day the subject came up while Mestre Pastinha was talking with his fellow capoeiristas, among them Doze Homens, Bigode de Seda, Eulâmpio, and Duquinha.  The assaults were creating quite a stir among the people, especially because the attacker was a woman.  One of the capoeiristas thought that the crimes were committed by one of the various women who played Capoeira at the time, and tried to guess which one, citing various names.  The capoeirista known as Bigode de Seda countered the accusation and defended the female capoeiristas (most of whom were his friends), saying that none of them were capable of such acts.  And the discussion went on for over an hour, and no one could make a guess that everyone agreed with.

The assaults continued and the police could not find the perpetrator.  They arrested various suspects, but all of them managed to prove their innocence.  So the mysterious woman continued her assaults unchallenged.

One day, Mestre Pastinha received news that Bigode de Seda was injured from a stab wound received in a street fight.  Pastinha went to visit him almost every day, but he got worse and worse.  One day, Pastinha was told that Bigode de Seda was doing very badly and wished to see him.

When Pastinha arrived, Bigode de Seda asked him to come closer.  He asked if there was any news about the assaults by the mysterious woman, and Mestre Pastinha responded that there had been no assaults recently.  Bigode de Seda asked Pastinha to come closer, and whispered: “And there will be no more, Pastinha!”  He pointed to an old closet.  The mestre went to it, opened the drawer and found a beautiful black dress, while Bigode de Seda breathed his last.

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