As Sequencias de Mestre Bimba

Information Design: Book, Posters, Icon System

A system of icons designed to represent fundamental movements of the Afro-Brazilian martial art, capoeira, which combines combat, dance, and acrobatics. The icons were then deployed in a series of bilingual posters explaining the steps of 8 foundational training sequences, with an accompanying booklet explaining the movements in greater detail.

The primary language in capoeira communities is Portuguese so the posters were designed to be bilingual, with instructions for the sequences in Portuguese and English.

The icon system is organized into categories based on type of movement, indicated by the enclosing marks. The movements themselves were distilled into two strokes, one interpreting the movement of the arms and the other the movement of the legs. The colors used are each distinct colors in the belt system of the ABADÁ Capoeira school.


Each icon is composed of two main strokes—abstracted, expressive gestures reflecting the movement of the arms (one stroke) and the legs (the second stroke) in the movement. The outer stroke (or absence of it) categorizes the movements into one of six different movement categories: basic stances or defenses, straight kicks, round kicks, attacks, or floreios (acrobatics). Though capoeira is a nuanced and fluid art form, and movements transgress their “categories” in context, the design categories are meant to allow viewers—including non-capoeiristas—parse the information more easily.

I designed each icon by drawing it in multiple ways in my sketchbook and then comparing the sketches to how the movement looks, and how it feels to complete it. Once the final set was selected, I digitized them in Adobe Illustrator to create an SVG library from which I could pull for the books and posters.

Ideally, I would like to add a motion graphics and video component to this project, and to expand the icon library beyond just the movements in the Sequencias.

About Capoeira

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial arts developed by enslaved Africans during the Portuguese colonial regime in Brazil. It combines combat techniques with acrobatics and gymnastics to conceal its true nature as a dance-like game. In colonial Brazil, it was used as a way for enslaved Africans to cultivate physical and emotional strength, and create communities. Capoeira played an integral role in the escape of enslaved Africans from plantations. Following emancipation, capoeira was criminalized by Brazil’s government and branded a passtime of criminals and gang members. It was an imprisonable offense until the 1970s, when Mestre Bimba founded Capoeira Regional and fought to have it recognized as an integral part of Brazil’s cultural heritage. Since then, capoeira has expanded all over the world, with many styles and schools. It remains a powerful symbol of resistance, the fight for equality, and of Afro-Brazilian culture. Capoeira is deeply communal—played as a game, rather than a fight or competition—and is practiced in a large circle called the roda, to live music.

Capoeira & I

I began playing capoeira when I was 6 years old at ABADÁ Capoeira San Francisco, under the instruction of (the legendary) Mestra Márcia Cigarra. This is still my school and she is still my teacher (over 15 years later), though I have trained all over the world at different ABADÁ Capoeira schools, including our headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In my community, I am known as Graduada Amendoim. Graduada is my title, which corresponds to my cord color; I am a first level graduate, indicating many years of training both behind and ahead of me. Amendoim is my capoeira name.

Capoeira has always been my rock, my family, and my anchor as I have moved through my life. My training frequency fluctuates depending on my given circumstances, but capoeira’s importance to me is unwavering. This deep relationship, and my desire to share it with others (and my own struggles learning the Sequencias) motivated me to begin this project.