FICA London

The history of  FICA London (started as ‘Grupo Capoeira Angola London’) is one of change and yet it remains an instrumental part of the Capoeira landscape in London, Europe and as a whole today.

Originally founded in 2001-2002 by Jan Gloeckner, a former native of Berlin who migrated to London, the Capoeira Angola London group started off as an affiliate to the Academia Jangada (Mestre Rosalvo in Berlin), and was based in the  Angel/Islington area. Early on in the history of the group, affiliations with Jangada dissolved and the group was renamed ‘Grupo Capoeira Angola London’.

In 2004, Marcelo Peçanha, aka Marcelo Tripa, a well known capoeirista from Salvador and member of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (in Portuguese, Fundação Internacional de Capoeira de Angola – FICA)[1] appeared in London, bringing with him, a unique blend of Capoeria Angola from Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. Marcelo first trained and taught in Stockwell, but soon migrated over to co-run the group in Islington with Jan and Chris (a student of Mestre Cobra Mansa – the founder and former President of FICA).

Now led by Marcelo and Chris, the affiliation with FICA blossomed. Marcelo had come to London at a time when Capoeira Angola was just maturing; other renowned and now established London based Capoeira figures, such as Mestre Carlão, the founder of Kabula, and Mestre Joãozinho da Figueira, the founder of MarAzul, soon followed.  It was and remains one of the most exciting times in the development of the London Capoeira Angola scene. Marcelo’s ties to Salvador brought renowned Mestres from the Brazilian scene to London, including, Mestres Valmir, Cobra Mansa from FICA, Mestre Russo (best known from the documentary ‘O Zelador’ and for his famous street rodas in Caixas, Rio de Janeiro), Mestre Boca do Rio (Grupo de Capoeira Angola Zimba), Mestre Roberval (MQFSM) and many more.

Over time, and with growing engagements overseas and other commitments, Marcelo’s influence in the group waned. With Chris in the lead, the group continued to develop and attracted new members.  In 2007, Luiz Antonio Feliciano , also known as Toca, joined the group as a student.  London being a transient place, leadership soon transitioned again leaving Luis at the helm of a blossoming group.

Today, FICA London is a strong and vibrant part of the Capoeira London community thanks, in part, to the hard work and commitment of those who came before and left, and, of course current leadership under professor Toca. It remains a strong testament to the perseverance of the culture of movement and the art that is Capoeira Angola and has become part of the history and the evolution of the art in London over the past decade.

[1] The International Capoeira Angola Foundation (known by its acronym ICAF or in Portuguese, Fundação Internacional de Capoeira de Angola or FICA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of Capoeira Angola.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Susana who is one of the founding members of FICA London (GCAL at the time).

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