Baloes in Capoeria Angola

In my article on baloes of Regional, I described in detail how baloes are done in this style; that they are body-throws, quite foreign to the rest of the capoeira repertoire; that they are the genial creation of Bimba, pride of his Regional style.

However, there is a question - were there baloes in the original Bahian capoeira(Angola)? Sources tell us that there were. What were they like? To what extent are baloes really Bimba's invention, his contribution to Capoeira?

It is impossible to tell for sure; however, let me present several sources that might make the answer more clear.

Exhibit A:

Our most important exhibit; an article from 1936 where Mestre Bimba describes the techniques he learned from his Mestre(original Bahian capoeira), versus techniques he added himself.
For our purpose,let us concentrate on the techniques that are (or could be) baloes:

Techniques he learned: Balao (that's a name)
Techniques he added: Balao em pé, Balao arqueado, Balao “colar” de força, Cintura desprezada, Cintura de rins, Gravata cinturada,  Salta pescoço, Dentinho.

I call your attention to the fact that out of 14 original techniques, there is one "Balao". Yet from the 15 techniques Bimba says he added, about a half are baloes! This should speak about the importance he attached to them; and also about the difference of the place baloes took in "Angola" versus Regional.

However, let us move to next exhibit.


Exhibit B:

Video from 1954. Do not let the caption fool you; this is not Mestre Bimba, it is an Angola roda.

Around 5:50, one Angoleiro takes the other upon his shoulder from (slanted) au, and puts him down on the other side. The technique looks very similar to "apanhada" of Regional; only the opponnent is carried with his back towards the thrower. (However, Regional does even this kind of 'apanhada', from a front handspring)

Could this be the 'balao' from exhibit A? It is probable; even the frequency (1:14) is plausible. However, let us continue.


Exhibit C:

A booklet accompanying the album of Angola Music, by Dias Gomes(1962).

Here, the author describes significant techniques of Capoeira Angola. Among rasteira,rabo de arraia and au, he lists
"balao" - "the capoeirista embraces the opponent's body with both arms, and throws him backwards over his head."

Note that this is compatible with the balao from Exhibit B; and also with Apanhada.

Also note that the author despises Regional as a hybrid, "rightly rejected by the purists of the art."


Exhibit D:

Mestre Pastinha playing in 1950's.

Points to note:

4:26 - interesting chamada, where Pastinha puts his head in opponent's stomach, and the opponent must do an Au around it. Not a balao, but close.
4:45 - almost certainly, this is the 'Balao' from Exhibit C. It is also almost the same as in Exhibit B. And it is very likely to be the 'balao' Bimba lists as having learned from his Mestre in Exhibit A.
3:46 - very interesting moment; without a doubt, kind of balao: Pastinha grabs opponnents head behind his back and plants him over his head into a handstand.
       This is similar to 'Gravata cinturada' of Regional!

Exhibit E:

Note that in any later videos of capoeira "Angola" (1963 and later) there are no balaos.
Similarly, in the list of techniques of famous Angola Mestres
There is no balao (only "balao de bainha de calca", which is "boca de calca").

Coincidence? Had the baloes got out of fashion? Hard to say.

On the other hand, look at Regional in the 60's:

These Regional guys sure loved their baloes!

Exhibit F:

In Joao de Rio's "A alma encantadora das ruas" (1908?), the word "balao" is used in the sense (grabbing the opponent by the legs and turning him over).

Curiosity G:
Contemporary Angola; an interesting kind of balao, reminiscent of the "ganster throw" from Michael Jackson's clip "Smooth Criminal". (1:10)



So, what can we conclude from these exhibits? We cannot be 100% sure, of course. But the probable conclusion is:

1) Bahian Capoeira always had a 'balao' where the opponent is grabbed from handstand and carried over the shoulders.

2) However, the rest of the balaos that use hips etc. to flip the opponnent over were added by Mestre Bimba as a part of his Regional; so they are 'foreign' to Capoeira. They also formed an important part of Regional repertoire.

3) What sticks out a bit is the quasi-cinturada in Exhibit B. Was it a Regional influence? Either way, it seems that even if Angola had some extra baloes before Bimba, they are always a part of handstand; not really the kind "grab his head and throw him completely in the air" Regional loves.

Even Regional has some of these (Apanhada, Reverse apanhada, "Gravata baixa").























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