Mestre Sinhozinho Mixed Style

Background, Style, History and Affiliations

Mestre Sinhozinho

Early life

Mestre Sinhozinho was born as Agenor Moreira Sampaio in Santos, Brazil, 1891-1962. He was a mestre of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira. He was the main exponent of the fighting-oriented style known as capoeira carioca.

He was one of the eight children of Brazilian military officer and politician José Moreira, who descended from Francisco Manoel da Silva. Agenor trained formally in boxing, savate, Greco-Roman wrestling and arm wrestling since his childhood, and also learned capoeira in the docks of Santos.

When his family moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1908, he switched the local style of capoeira carioca, an aggressive, violent variation strongly associated to policemen and gangsters. Moreira eventually became a master of the art, receiving the name of Mestre Sinhozinho which means "Little Mister".

Establishing Carioca

Sinhozinho opened a school in 1930 to teach capoeira to wealthy middle class citizens. His carioca school was not based on a single terrain, as Sinhozinho taught in several sport clubs and terrains borrowed from his benefactors, usually around the rich neighborhood of Ipanema beach. Unlike most capoeira mestres, Sinhozinho prefered combat over artistic expression, ditching entirely the art's music and rituals and mixed it liberally with other fighting styles. It has been proposed Mestre Bimba decided to emphasize the most traditional aspects of capoeira as an answer to pragmatic, combative variations like those taught by Sinhozinho and Anibal "Zuma" Burlamaqui. Nonetheless, he is credited with having maintained the practice of capoeira in Rio de Janeiro. He was also a one to one instructor to the Polícia Especial formed by President of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas.

Sinhozinho also cultivated the psychological aspect of self-defense, instructing his students to laugh at their aggressors before fighting in order to infuriate them and dissipate their own fear. Capoeira carioca also taught the use of weapons like the sardinha or santo christo (razors) and the petropolis (canes, sometimes tricked), and among its few traditions it preserved an ancient combat game similar to batuque named roda de pernada where capoeristas would exchange leg blows.

However, as Sinhozinho never created a standardized way of teaching, his fighting style died with his own passing in 1960. Sinhozinho ended up being more influential as a physical education teacher whose training methods many Brazilian athletes benefited from.

Sinhozinho died in 1962. His cultural legacy was obscure, but he has been considered in modern times the mainstay of capoeira in Rio de Janeiro.

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