Mestre Bigodinho, baptized as Reinaldo Santana, was born in Conceição de Feira, in 1933, but it was in Acupe – district of Santo Amaro that he grew up amid the cultural effervescence of the Recôncavo, where he also had his first lessons in capoeiragem. As a boy, he moved in 1950 to Salvador, where he soon met Auvelino, a Berimbau master who welcomed him and taught him the secrets of the art of this instrument, which ended up making Mestre Bigodinho famous.
But it wasn't just playing the berimbau that Bigodinho enchanted everyone, no! For more than 25 years, Bigodinho frequented the famous Barracão de Mestre Valdemar da Paixão, a time when, according to him, “boys and women did not play”. He lived with famous capoeiras such as Traíra, Zacarias, and many others who frequented the Barracão, and he was also one of the most respected capoeiras in the place. An excellent singer and songwriter, he was also known for his very particular way of singing the litanies and corridos he composed.
In the 1960s, he coordinated the Grupo Resistência, in the Lapinha neighborhood of Salvador. It was always said that he was from the time when the police repressed the roda and threatened: “stop, otherwise I'll break the tambourine and break the berimbau!”. He also joined the Grupo Folclórico “Viva Bahia”, coordinated by Emília Biancardi, which played an important role in spreading capoeira throughout Brazil and the world. He became master in 1968.
Bigodinho left capoeira in the 1970s, staying for a long period of inactivity. He only returned to the scene in the 1990s, influenced by his friend Lua Rasta. According to researcher Frede Abreu, Mestre Bigodinho was of great importance in the revitalization process of Capoeira Angola in the 70s/80s, due to the knowledge he had. Frede says that “he knew and lived with many old masters and knew things”.
In 2007, the “Tribute to Mestre Bigodinho” took place, an initiative of his friend, mestre Lua Rasta, who, together with his “announcing band”, made up of capoeiristas of all lineages, made the streets of Acupe a great party in the sky. open. A fair tribute in life that was even recorded on video – the documentary with the same name, directed by Gabriela Barreto, where one can see the joy of Mestre Bigodinho parading through the streets of the place, being acclaimed and recognized by everyone present there.
Bigodinho recorded a CD, together with Mestre Boca Rica, which shows a little of his talent as a singer and composer not only of capoeira songs, but also of samba-de-roda, another passion of Bigodinho, who was also considered an excellent samba player. . He was a born bohemian, said his closest friends.
With his perspicacity, Bigodinho said that capoeira “is like a pharmacy: you have pain in your leg, in your muscle…so you do some capoeira jumping with the guys, when you come back you'll be fine, that pain is all gone”.
He died in the Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Santo Amaro, the same place where the famous Besouro Mangangá died. It was on a gray day, April 5, 2011, the birthday of another great capoeira character: Mestre Pastinha.