As of our latest Batizado event from November 2014, Capoeira Luanda Houston has 8 graduados under the instruction of Professor Gringo | Mestre Jelon
Our talented graduados are Graduado Bombril, Graduada Venenosa, Graduado Paraná, Graduado Pirata, Graduado Ferrugem, Graduado Chumbo, Graduado Sangue Bom and Graduado Caneco.
Damon Bowens | Graduado Bombril (Corda Verde – Azul)
Damon Bowens (Graduado Bombril) is a Houston native who began searching for something different from traditional exercise as a young man. While renewing his interest in his home city and looking for camaraderie, he connected with Mauricio Campos (Professor Gringo) at 24Hour Fitness, where he began training Capoeira in 2003. “Capoeira offered all my childhood dreams in one place, with singing, dancing, musical instruments, language, martial arts, traveling, and acrobatics. The Brazilian Arts Foundation and Capoeira gave me a place to open my true personality and explore more of my hidden talents”.
Since 2003, Damon has studied under Professor Gringo and many other highly acclaimed Capoeiristas such as Mestre Jelon Viera, the founder of Capoeira Luanda and artistic director and choreographer of DanceBrazil. Damon has assisted in countless youth performances and performed at the Miller Outdoor Theater, Jones Hall, and Houston’s International Festival and Brazilian Festivals with the Brazilian Arts Foundation obtaining his first graduado cord in 2009 and is currently ranked as a second-degree graduado.
Currently, Damon is a certified professional fitness trainer. He teaches capoeira at Rice University as an LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) instructor and is an assistant leader at the KIPP Sharpstown College Prep after-school capoeira program. Since October 2014, he has started started sharing the Brazilian Art Foundation’s mission in the Sugar Land area under the supervision of his professor Mauricio Campos.
Karima Wilson | Graduada Venenosa (Corda Verde – Azul)
Karima Wilson (Graduada Venenosa) moved to Houston, TX after growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. She had always been attracted to learning about different cultures as she grew up dancing various dance styles including African dance and ballet. In 2004, she began to learn the art of capoeira with Mauricio Campos (Professor Gringo) and has traveled extensively to learn as much as she can. In 2010, she received her graduada cord and is currently ranked as a second-degree graduada.
She works as the principal at KIPP Sharpstown College Prep, a public charter school in southwest Houston that works to provide a world-class education for underserved students in the area. At her school, she also supports a capoeira program, where students learn the martial art, the music, and the Portuguese language. This program is starting its sixth year in 2013. Karima is excited to continue her work with Capoeira Luanda Houston and the Brazilian Arts Foundation.
Tony Paraná | Graduado Paraná (Corda Verde – Azul)
Tony Paraná (Graduado Paraná) was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and moved to the United States in 2002. Parana’s first contact with capoeira was in 1997 in Brazil, where he trained for a couple of years. In 2007 he started re-learning Capoeira with Professor Gringo from Capoeira Luanda at the Brazilian Arts Foundation. Since then, Paraná has been an active capoeirista and has been teaching the BAF’s kids capoeira classes since 2010.
Through his life, Tony has also acquired many artistic skills such as Brazilian music, percussion, and plastic arts, which can be key to being a well-rounded capoeirista and complement his teaching skills with peers and the BAF’s kids capoeira program.
“Teaching the kids capoeira classes is great because you see how much capoeira can offer to society, especially through kids. To have a child exposed to capoeira at such a young age is fundamental for many reasons: they work on their musicality, are exposed to a new language, enhance their coordination, attention, social skills and, most importantly, learn to respect one another as giving members of society.”
Tony received his second-degree graduado cord in 2012 and is very excited to continue learning, training and teaching with Capoeira Luanda Houston and the Brazilian Arts Foundation.
Isani Ereif Cayetano | Graduado Pirata (Corda Azul)
“Isani “Pirata” Cayetano was born in Dangriga, Belize among the rich flavors and sounds of the Garifuna people. He moved to the United States to pursue a degree in Information Technology, and upon completing that degree in 2005, heart heavy with homesickness, he was introduced to capoeira in Tallahassee Florida by Professor Aranha where he dove into the culture, the music and the art wholeheartedly.
In 2007, after a move to Houston, he joined the Capoeira Luanda family, and hasn’t looked back. Pirata has taken advantage of several of the programs offered at the Brazilian Arts Foundation such as classes in dance, the Portuguese language and music, among many others while capoeira continues to be his base and the touchstone of his involvement at the BAF. He has participated with his fellow students and Professor Gringo at various stage performances around Houston, including at Discovery Green, Jones Hall, Rice University, the Children’s Museum, and the Toyota Center for the Latin Grammy’s.
Pirata attained his graduado cord in 2011 shortly after moving to Providence, Rhode Island where he currently resides.
Shawn T. Walters | Graduado Ferrugem (Corda Azul)
As a Houston native, Ferrugem grew up surrounded by the ethnic diversity of the city. A key part of that is the annual Houston International Festival where he gained his first experience with Capoeira. Having a great enthusiasm for martial arts and a love for the energy that Capoeira brings, he was eager to try for himself and began his training with Professor Gringo in October of 2003.
Since then he has dedicated much of his free time to the growth of the Brazilian Arts Foundation helping organize events, fundraisers and performances as well as holding a seat on their board of directors for two early years of its development.
In addition to his years with Professor Gringo in Houston, he has also attended several classes and workshops with world-renowned instructors in Texas, Florida, and New York as well as Paris, France and Bogotá, Colombia. He began assisting with substituting adult capoeira classes in 2009 and started teaching the adult beginners level capoeira program regularly in 2011. He achieved the title of first level graduado in 2012.
Cory Stewart | Graduado Chumbo (Corda Azul)
Cory Stewart (Graduado Chumbo), began capoeira with Capoeira Luanda Houston in 2004 in his hometown of Houston, TX and has been training consistently ever since. Through capoeira Chumbo has found an outlet for his creative energy while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Chumbo has performed with the BAF at various venues around the greater Houston such as the International Festival and many different elementary and middle schools as part of the BAF Young Audiences of Houston partnership program.
In 2012 he was awarded the level of “graduado” (graduated student) which allows him to pursue capoeira through the lens of a teacher, which is also his profession outside of capoeira, under the supervision of his professor Mauricio Campos.
Jason Smith | Graduado Sangue Bom (Corda Azul)
Jason “Sangue Bom” Smith was born and raised in Houston, TX. He first learned of capoeira in a black history program and through movies at a young age, and began training Capoeira in 2002 with Mauricio Campos (Professor Gringo) after seeing a capoeira performance at the Houston International Festival. After a few classes, he moved to Belo Horizonte, Brazil for an internship where he continued his training for the next couple of years with Mestre Fumaça and Mestre Rogério (Grupo Guerreiros de São Bento), and finally Mestre Calango (Grupo Vanguarda da Capoeira, formerly Rio Minas) where he was known as “Americano.” It was during a trip to Salvador, Bahia where many other capoeiristas he met continuously called him “Sangue Bom,” meaning “Good Blood,” or someone good-natured.
Jason returned to Houston in 2004 to finish his education at the University of Houston, and returned to train capoeira with Professor Gringo in 2008. Since his return, he has participated in various performances coordinated and choreographed by Professor Gringo to help spread the awareness and uniqueness of capoeira, as well as other cultural and folkloric Afro-Brazilian dances such as Maculelê, Puxada de Rede and Samba de Roda to the community in which he was raised. Jason has traveled throughout North America, Europe and Brazil attending several batizados, classes, workshops and performances.
Currently, Jason works for Petrobras America Inc. as an analyst in the corporate area. He is also a percussionist who plays for various local Brazilian bands in the Houston area.
Curt Martin | Graduado Caneco (Corda Azul)