Mestre Paulo dos Anjos (José Paulo dos Anjos) was known as one of the most skilled and versatile angoleiros of the century. He strongly resisted the attempts to incorporate the changes and fads of modern capoeira into the traditional art.
“For me, nothing has changed. I continue practicing Capoeira Angola according to tradition,” he used to say.
Born on August 15th, 1936 in the state of Sergipe, the 14-year-old José Paulo dos Anjos made a name for himself in Salvador as a promising boxer. When he met Mestre Canjiquinha one year earlier, he became hooked on Capoeira and began to frequent the rodas of the Bahian cities. In the street festivals, his technique and abilities began to attract everyone’s attention. From then on, time would transform him into a master, graduated by Mestre Canjiquinha himself.
He was widely respected in the capoeira world and also well-known as a singer. He recorded some songs on a CD, with his unique style, maintaining the musical tradition of capoeira. Alongside Mestre Gato Preto, he gave classes on Itaparica Island as well as other places in the metropolitan region of Salvador.
In the 1970s, he moved to São Paulo for five years. In São José dos Campos, he formed the group Anjos de Angola (Angels of Angola). In 1978 he won the capoeira championship at the Pacaembu Gymnasium in the state capital. He returned to Salvador in 1980 and influenced the movement of capoeiristas fighting for better working conditions. Beginning in 1987, he led the Brazilian Capoeira Angola Association and combined his capoeira work with his activities as a civil servant in Salvador’s town hall.
Today, many of his students have become teachers and mestres. Some already have their own academies in Salvador and São Paulo: Virgílio do Retiro, Jaime de Mar Grande, Jorge Satélite, Pássaro Preto, Amâncio, Neguinho, Renê, Alfredo, Djalma, Galego, Mala, Josias, Cabeção, Jequié, Feijão, Vital, and Al Capone, among others.
He passed away in March of 1999 in Salvador, the victim of an infection contracted after a surgery in a local hospital. His death representes the loss of not only a very distinguished human being, but also an irreparable loss for capoeira, especially the lineage of capoeira angola.