Guido Amezola, better known today as Mestre Kibe, first started Capoeira as an insecure young boy, hoping to lose some weight and gain confidence.
With many years of hard training and dedication, he overcame all these insecurities, to become an inspirational example for the next generation with a level of Capoeira and repertoire of movements which are second to none.
Currently he teaches at the Cordão de Ouro Matrix in São Paolo.
Interview with Mestre Kibe, 11/11/2016, Translation of Audio Transcript
When and how did you start in Capoeira?
The first time I saw Capoeira was in ’99, there was a small market where fruits and stuff were sold, and the gym was above it. After my father bought the restaurant, Suassuna moved the academy here.
I started to get interested in Capoeira in the period of 96, the end of 96 almost 97. Because that era of Suassuna was a very tough time, that thing of Bahia, that thing of “I’m from Bahia, I’m mean” it was a kind of school: Kill or Run!
I started Capoeira at age 12, and I weighed 100 kg, I was very fat, was very obese! I had some natural ability, not in Capoeira but in football, which I’d played before. As I was growing up, playing I was losing weight. I started to get interested in Capoeira after I saw Mestre Durinho and Tião doing parafusos, and other acrobatics… I had a lot of interest in learning these, but they said that our Capoeira isn’t just about stunts and tricks, Suassuna only teaches these to the advanced students, first there are other beauties to learn, such as musicality, motor coordination, balance, strength and quick thinking.
So I decided I’m going to have to take a chance on this thing that is Capoeira. I trained a year of Capoeira and people started to hurt me, to sweat, I started getting bullied for the first time: It’s chubby! You whale! Free Willy! This gave me a complex, and I stopped after year of training. After a year had passed I told myself, I’m going back to train to be better than these people.
That was a very good challenge for me, it worked, because everything I dreamed came true. I trained to be Suassuna’s best for people, not to respect me, but to say: “F&^% me! This guy got to get to where he is because he trained like crazy”.
I thank Mestre Durinho who passed away, Tião, I trained with Sarará, I trained with Carlos, later with Mestre Xavier and finally with Mestre Totinho. When all these people left I started to train with Suassuna. After ten years. After these ten years I started to train with the Master, and when Torinho left I took over the academy, today I am in the space he left for me in Santa Cecilia, which is the Matrix. Thank you very much to the Master and all the Masters who helped me.
Of all the Masters of whom you have spoken, who do you regard as your Master?
I consider my Mestres to be the first to teach me, Durinho and Tião. They had more of an impact, it was like an apprenticeship because I lived a while with Master Durinho, from 97 to 2000. I had a very good relationship with them.
We would like to know how and why you got your apelido?
My name is actually Guido but people call me Kibe. I ate a lot of crap, meatballs, coxinhas … I always had a coxinha in one hand, a kibe in the other, a guarana, a coke … all at the same time! Once Master Xavier spoke to me:
“Boy, do I have a good nickname for you: Kibe”
He said, “Buy a Kibe and I’ll show you why it’s Kibe. A Kibe has a little head like this, and a big body…” and I’ve been this little meatball until today!
You passed straight to the yellow cord in your first batizado right, why was that?
I was afraid of the batizado. Before Capoeira was tougher, and I was afraid to start, every time there was a batizado I ran away! I think I fled five Capoeira batizados! I was to get the first cord with Mestre Urubu Malandro, and as I had forgotten the video camera when I left the restaurant he said to me: “Kibe today I’m going to break your knee”. I was scared to play, even though I know he wasn’t actually going to do it!
It was Suassuna’s biggest event, in 98-99, almost 10,000 Cordão de Ouro. It was a top event in my life, I saw Mestre Gato, Mestre Mão Branca, and Mestre Suassuna play, saw Mestres I have never seen before in my life. It was, and it is until today, something that I thank God for where we came from, and all of them.
I got the yellow right, then from yellow I went to the yellow-green that was a convention that Suassuna had started at the time: it was green, it was yellow, blue, and then yellow-green. I got the yellow-green, that was the fourth graduation, it was blue-yellow in the past, I went to the blue in 2000. I was in blue four years, after blue I went to Contra Mestre where I stayed for ten years, before graduating as Mestre, but I jumped the White-Green and I went straight to the White-Yellow cord in 2013 with Boca.
How did you come to take charge of the Matrix?
In the beginning it was kind of difficult, I’m going to say truthfully, it was difficult because I was very young. Since I trained a lot of acrobatic movements, I wanted to do what I did with the students. And it did not work. I began to understand that I could not do my Capoeira with the students of the gym.
The Mestre was angry: “You’re doing it all wrong!” He started to yell at me, and I was pissed off, because I didn’t understand! He told me: “My son, the Capoeira you play is one, the Capoeira you want to pass is another, but the student will not understand this for now. I want to leave the gym for you, and I want you to understand that you have to pass an easy Capoeira so that the student understands, and wants to return to train with you. These things you do, it’s only you who does them! The student does not want to do queda de rins, bananeira… he wants to do armada and meia lua de compasso!
But soon the Mestre stopped going in 2 days a week, then stopped going at all, stopped going to see how I looked after the gym, because when you create a space, you create responsibility. The same as when you have a child, it changes your perspective.
It changes your vision, you stop messing around, you treat yourself as a man, and your personality grows. It’s more responsibility, it’s bills, it’s rent, it’s your name, it’s the name of Mestre Suassuna… to have something professional of your own.
A guy said, “F*&^! Kibe is taking care of the gym with 18 years!” Today I realise he gave me control because Mestre Suassuna recognised that I gave up in all my life to follow Capoeira. I stopped playing around, stopped studying, because my father died, and I had to help my family, and for sure, he believed in me, and I now show him that I can be the one he wanted. A real professional with responsibility.
What does Capoeira have, for example in your case, to make you leave everything else to follow her?
I think it’s friendship.
The coexistence with the Old Mestres, I think it’s very important because they lived some things that we never lived in life.
It used to be a dictatorship, but Capoeira is now much more liberated; even more when you have great friends like Boca, Poncianinho, my student Marcelo. When I see my friends, I could start all over again! It’s cool, it’s pleasurable, because when you start a new project it’s all new for you, the old job continues, but the new job is a new life practically.
There are always a lot of foreigner visitors training at the matrix, how is it to teach people from so many different places?
It’s actually cool, because what they would really like to learn most is Portuguese. Because they want to learn what the joke is, what the swear word is, why rice and beans, why do you like to eat rice and beans… the names of fruits, açaí, so we take them to get to know some of the capoeira of capoeirista friends.
There are a lot of people from Israel, people from the United States, I’m going to Japan soon; one of my students, I met him in 2013, it’s been nearly ten years he’s been wanting to take me to Japan! He speaks a little Portuguese, He spent six months in Brazil, learned to make feijoada, lasagna and rice, six months!
When a foreigner chooses his or her gym it is because you have a good reputation. Because the academy has tradition. Tradition, respect, dignity and humility must be taken seriously. When they come here you have to treat them well, ’cause damn! Because he could choose the academy of Suassuna, Sarará, Coruja, they’re all there nearby, so when they come to yours, always say thank you, please come back any time!
It’s important to show gratitude, not just for the money, but also that the person came from so far, traveled thirty hours to get to this gym, so thank the kid!
It’s cool because the person notices everything, your look, your walk, even your way of winking… whatever he sees there, he’s going to spread the word: The guy is like this or like that, he is respectful, he sets up the batteria like this, how’s the hierarchy, the graduation, how does he treat seniors, families… If they feel that you are true, if you are true, and are genuinely friends with the visitor, he will always return to your home.
What was it like to be there after the Little Minion generation?
It was a bit of a criticism for us, for me, because there was the generation of Mestre Espirro Mirim of ’88, the generation of Boca of 2000, and then my generation that was 2004. As I developed a lot of movements, Suassuna took me and got me rolling along with Boca, Habibis, Mintirinha, Muriel, Coruja, Denis, Saroba, Chiclete, Pimenta, Joguinho, Esquilo and Chicote.
If I’m not mistaken, there were 18 capoeiristas. For us this graduation was the ultimate, a bit similar to that of the ’88. After 50 years of Capoeira, there’d been two graduations that will not have another equal, because 18 capoeiristas, each with a different way to play, to talk, to communicate, one living in Belo Horizonte, one living in Paris, another in Germany, then we found ourselves back in Brazil, and trained all in one week to make our graduation perfectly. For me it was a dream to form with this group, that is still said today was the only class to compare to that of the ’88!
What would your top tips you would give to a novice capoeirista?
Get to know the space, look first, know the Mestre’s way of teaching. Because from the behaviour of the Mestre, you can tell whether they are cool or not. There are many Mestres who teach the true Capoeira, but also many who do not!
When the student is a foreigner, or a guy who is starting out who is Brazilian, they can pass on this false Capoeira, and they won’t know any different. If he tells you that you have to fight, that you have to punch, this is not cool for the beginner.
The beginner when he arrives at the gym he wants his shirt for now, he wants to learn the armada, wants to make Aú that he calls a cartwheel, “It’s Aú!” He does not want really difficult moves, he wants to make friends, he wants to meet you, he is excited!
This happened to me, when I was new to Capoeira and I saw Suassuna playing aaaaaahh !! A gentleman, a Capoeira gladiator, the more you know, the more you become apprehensive about the Mestre. I have to try to be like him in life, to move on to the new person.
What I recommend is for the student to arrive at the gym, to see the environment, to make good friendships, to talk with the Mestre, to talk with the Mestre to see if he wants to stay, because when a student arrives often it is not what they thought it would be, or vice versa.
When the Mestre looks for a student, or the student looks for the Mestre, the Mestre has to treat them well, because the guy went to look for you, because that’s where I work. So when a student arrives at your gym, receive them with a smile, “Come and try a lesson, come and meet the group”. Because when a new person comes in he connects with everything, then he goes on to understand what Capoeira is; musicality, motor coordination, the batteria, fundamentals… it’s a process that takes time, it can not be a hurried. That Capoeira is a cultural thing, it is a traditional thing, something that has come a long way, that is was, and still is to this day about suffering.
You have a lot of strength and a lot of flexibility, do you train these things apart from the normal workout, does it come with time?
When I was younger I trained 15 hours a day, when I lived in the gym, it was absurd. Suassuna said that I was a sick guy, he was going to make me an intern! I had a lot of difficulty in Capoeira, when I finished class I always trained separately for me to understand the movement, for me to try to put it into the roda. I had to have patience, balance, strength, tranquility because I was too fat and did not have much flexibility. I was one of the few who work the flexibility within Capoeira movements, with lots of patience!
What was it like living in the gym?
It was miserable! Because you were hungry, cold, away from your mother, your family, your father, everything. At first it’s good, but then you miss people. It’s a bit bad. I lived in the gym almost 19 years, and it was a half punk thing. I lost everything in my life, my father, my wife… today, I would not sleep in the gym anymore. It’s a sad thing I leave behind for good, it was kind of sad my life at the time. What gave me strength was when I saw my daughter, I said to myself I need to get up and sort myself out because I have a daughter to raise, and it is her who gives me strength, together with God and my family, without them we are nothing.