Bimba's hand strikes

My discovery that Bimba used Nemer ginga (Ginga with Nemer archetype, see my article) and also LightLegs allows us now to analyze more deeply the hand strikes he used.



I already analyzed Godeme (article) - it was thrown with LightLegs, making it cause KO or nerve disruption if blocked (see the article). LightLegs Godeme is natural from Nemer ginga (try it); and it was just that much more effective because it was hidden by the Nemer.

From Nemer ginga, equip LightLegs, turn your left foot leftward (using the little shuffle in the ginga); then step with your right leg and throw a right Godeme (elbow then backfist)

We have to cover two remaining hand techniques: Asfixiante and Galopante. As you probably can guess, the techniques king of capoeira used were not the common techniques you learn in a capoeira school.



(Asfixiante by Mestre Bimba from 'Curso de capoeira regional'. Note that the same side leg is forward, as described above and unlike the modern right straight)


In modern capoeira, Asfixiante is usually taught as modern boxing 'straight'. However, this would be not natural to throw from Nemer ginga used by Bimba.

Instead, what he probably used was a punch driven by LightLegs:

From Nemer ginga, equip LightLegs and step forward with your right leg; using the right fist to throw a punch as the left leg LightLegs-drive your body forward. At the same time, keep Nemer on.

This type of punch is not used in modern boxing; however, it is similar "straight jolt" KO punch the great heavyweight Jack Dempsey used; he describes it in his book "Championship fighting" and calls the technique that powers it 'falling step'.

It uses LightLegs, it is natural to throw from Nemer ginga and it is even depicted in Bimba's book Curso de Capoeira Regional. And it is very  powerful punch. Aim for the lower half of opponent's face (just as Bimba instructs in Curso de capoiera regional) for a knockout strike.

However, Bimba's Asfixiante was probable even more powerful: By keeping the Nemer archetype (thus the punch has Nemer+LightLegs archetype), you hide the punch to the extent it becomes practically indefensible; the opponent doesn't see anything until he gets knocked out.


(Note that because of the way this punch is thrown, you have to use your last two knuckles - little and ring finger - as a striking zone (unlike modern punches). This is the same thing that is said by Dempsey).

This KO punch, coupled with Bimba's size and his Nemer ginga hiding it, was probably a terrific weapon.



Again, we will skip modern (Tiger) Galopante; and try to find a technique that is natural to throw from Nemer ginga.

In fact, there is one available right away: From Nemer ginga, you can step with your right leg and throw a right hand slap using Nemer archetype itself
(the underlying archetype is Dom Rooster).

This is Bimba's true Galopante; if it hits opponent's head, the result is a knockout. (Unlike modern Tiger galopante which is just a physical strike). Note that in Nemer Galopante, the hand automatically half-closes into the shape similar to 'Leopard fist'.

(Galopante by Mestre Bimba from 'Curso de capoeira regional'; note how the right leg is forward, as described; and unlike the Tiger galopante, which is thrown from the rear leg)


Excursus: Hiding the hand techniques

As noted above, Nemer ginga is used to hide the hand techniques. If you hide them right, the opponent has no chance to block or evade your attack (because the preparatory movements are hidden by Nemer).

To hide them properly, you must do the techniques smoothly and calmly; without telegraphing them by random hand movements. Just explode from the position of Nemer ginga without any preparatory hand movements.

To hide Nemer Galopante, there is trick: When you want to attack with your right Nemer Galopante, first make a movement with your left hand (still using Nemer); then explode with your right leg into right Nemer Galopante. The left hand movement hides the right hand strike.

Train all the hand techniques (including movements below) from Nemer Ginga against your training partner who tries to block them. If he can block them, you are not doing them properly!



Partial conclusion:

Mestre Bimba used Nemer ginga to throw three special hand strikes: LightLegs Godeme, Nemer+LightLegs Asfixiante and Nemer Galopante.

These techniques use a completely different mechanics than the outwardly similar strikes used by his students and modern capoeiristas; and thus also have a different effect. The are also almost unblockable, because they are hidden by the Nemer archetype.

The above are part of Bimba's true fighting system.

Note that these technique, while outwardly similar, are completely different beasts from the modern techniques of the same names.


Excursus - cabeçadas:

Even though these are not hand strikes as such, let us analyse them here too. From Nemer ginga, you can naturally throw the three 'Bimba style' cabeçadas, namely:

-cabeçada presa with hand hold (guard breaker) (description)
-chest smasher cabeçada (jab! if thrown for Nemer ginga) (description)
-chest smasher with punch block (counter)
(all in my technique section)

However, there is more: From the position of Nemer ginga, all these three cabeçadas can be thrown quite a lot more powerfully than from the common ginga or standing; creating a nerve strangle as the opponent is thrown to the ground (hence, he lands very hard. Note that this effect only works from Nemer ginga, again showing how central it was to Bimba's system.) The proper way to throw the cabecada is to use the rear arched position of the Nemer ginga to go smoothly and calmly forward into the cabecada.

This is why Bimba used them; they complement his crushing system very well.

(Chest smasher from 'Curso de capoeira regional'; the left forearm is a bit off as it is supposed to press on his solar plexus)

All three are thrown by stepping with the right leg from Nemer ginga, as described above.

So these three cabeçada round up Bimba's system nicely. These are not really part of old Bahian capoeira (which had its own Rooster+Seduction1 cabeçadas; see my article); but part of Bimba's personal style, build upon Nemer ginga.



Finally, from the front phase of Nemer ginga it is natural to do an Arrastao; but also using Nemer archetype.

Nemer Arrastao looks similarly to the normal Arrastao, but it has one special property: If the opponent tries to kick you with his knee, he will apply a nerve disruptor to himself! Thus Bimba's Nemer Arrastao cannot be stopped with knee - a weak point of the normal Arrastao.

From Nemer ginga, step with your right leg towards the opponent, and using Nemer mechanics, bend over, seize his knees and pull to throw him down.

This is the final part of Bimba's system - Nemer Arrastao.


As you see, almost the whole Bimba's system (coded in his sequences) stems from his Nemer ginga. Most of the techniques are thus done using other, more effective archetypes than the ones people normally use in modern or pre-modern capoeira (without starting from Nemer ginga).

Thus, Nemer ginga is the key to Bimba's whole system (apart from the parts that he took from Bahian capoeira - mostly the LightLegs kicks, Au and Rooster+Seduction1 cabeçadas).


Excursus: Footwork

All the above techniques are done with a step forward with the right leg (or left, of course; but let us stick with right); and they can be done in two ways from the Nemer ginga:
-from the position in the ginga with your right leg in the rear, step with your right leg forward and execute the hand technique
-from the position with your left leg in the rear, first, step with your left leg forward into the front position of ginga; then quickly step forward with your right leg and execute the hand technique

Note that the second way is only possible because of Nemer ginga; and would not be mechanically possible from normal Bahian ginga


Final conclusion: 

From Nemer ginga, Bimba threw the following hand/head techniques; they are all natural to throw from Nemer ginga, hidden by the Nemer archetype and often more powerful than their normal version:
-LightLegs Godeme
-Nemer+LightLegs Asfixiante
-Nemer Galopante
-Chest smasher cabeçada (extra powerful)
-Hand grab cabeçada presa (extra powerful)
-Chest smasher with a punch block (extra powerful)
-Nemer Arrastao




















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