2014: A Year of Celebration

Mestranda Edna Lima's 40 Year Anniversary in Capoeira

It is said that Edna Lima has the fire and excitement of legendary martial arts masters.

When Mestranda Lima arrived came to the US in the 1980's Capoeira was still relatively new in New York City. Mestre's Jelon Vieira and Loremil Machado had introduced Capoeira to the martial arts and dance performance communities a decade earlier (with Mestre Acordeon in San Francisco soon after) and even made a distinct and lasting impression on hip-hop culture. But there was only a handful of regular Capoeira students Carvão, Pelón, Arrepiado, and Quemado.

Mestranda Edna Lima was already a Mestra in the Senzala Capoeira group, headed at that time by Mestre Camisa, when she stepped into this world after competing in the Pan-American Karate Championships in New Orleans (she won a Bronze Medal in kumite). With an extended visa, a burning desire to learn English, and no friends in North America she travelled north to experience the city that never sleeps.

She was welcomed in New York by Mestre Jelon and soon joined the touring company of his Dance Brazil but eventually struck out on her own to become immersed in the study of English and North American ways. A few years later she followed Mestre Camisa when he formed the ABADÁ Capoeira Association and become the world's first Mestranda

Mestranda Edna Lima's Celebration

Mestranda Edna Lima and Abadá Capoeira Celebrate 39 Years of Capoeira with Mestre Camisa and Doña Lourdes.
Edna's greatest role model and supporter is her Mother, Doña Lourdes.

  • Mestranda Edna, Lourdes, and Mestre Camisa

  • Lourdes leads the Batizado with her own song

A rare 1991 interview with Mestre Camisa, the legendary Capoeira teacher and founder of ABADÁ Capoeira,
and Mestranda Edna Lima, founder of ABADÁ Capoeira New York.

• Interview with Mestre Camisa [0:20-4:39]
• Jogo with Mestres and students
• Coqueiro discusses Capoeira and Karate [4:39-6:27]

• Arrepiado discusses culture of Capoeira [0:03-1:00]
• Interview with Mestranda Edna Lima [1:02-2:50]
• Jogo with Mestre Camisa and Mestranda Lima [3:39-5:05]

Mestranda Edna Lima ...

• world's first female mestra of Capoeira
• first Mestranda in the ABADÁ Capoeira Association.

Sensei Edna Lima ...

• Karate Godan (fifth-degree blackbelt) in the International Shotokan Karate Federation
• won 17 international championships in the ISKF, JKA, WUKO, and Ozawa International

Professor Edna Lima ...

• Master's degree in Physical Education
• Adjunct Professor in the Dance Department at Long Island University in Brooklyn.


Edna Lima's lifelong study of Capoeira and Karate began 39 years ago when women did not easily venture into rodas or dojos. Driven by an inner fire she started her personal journey that has become a path for others to follow. Her role models lived in history and included Zumbi, the leader of the Brazilian free-state of Palmares and the founders of modern Capoeira: Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha.

The direct students of these early masters included her own mentors, Mestre Camisa and Mestre Joao Grande, who welcomed a daring young woman into thier rodas. Over the years Edna traveled all over Brazil to find new rodas and new Capoeira experiences. And when she added Shotokan Karate to her study of martial arts she eventually became an international champion.

For all these years Edna's greatest role model and supporter was her Mother, Lourdes. With her guidance Edna did not ignore her academic studies and graduated with a university degree in Physical Education. Soon she had created a Capoeira youth program for school children in Brasilia and began post-graduate studies in Sports Science.

After winning five national karate championships in Brazil Edna moved to New York City to study English. In the US she competed in traditional and Olympic karate, winning five US National, four Pan-American, and two Ozawa International championships.

As a member of the Dance and Sports Science faculty of Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, Hunter College, and Long Island University, Edna came to realize the need for public fitness programs that reduce health risks of inactivity and create positive behaviors for troubled youth. Edna has taught accredited university courses have including Women's Self-Defense, World Dance, and Capoeira Workout.


Edna Lima became the first Mestranda (female master of Capoeira) in her ABADÁ Capoeira Formatura in 1997. As a senior member of the world's largest Capoeira group she brings a unique presence to the world of Capoeira. Her Capoeira workshops and master classes are presented annually in Austria, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and the USA.

Capoeira allows Edna to explore her cultural roots and demonstrate the benefits of this distinctly Brazilian martial art around the world. Edna teaches a flowing style of Capoeira with deceptive counters and takedowns.

Edna teaches classes at the world-famous Trisha Brown Studios, New York Sports Clubs and has recently been invited to present Capoeira in the martial arts program at the prestigious Wingate Sports Science Institute in Israel and World Dance Program at Long Island University.


Karate offers Edna an opportunity for international sports competition where here record includes over 17 international championships in Brazil, Columbia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Trinidad, Venezuela, and the USA.

Edna has won five Brazilian, six US, four Pan-American, and two Ozawa championships. She has competed for the US in four World Championships and was one of the few women inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame.


Edna successfully adapted the dynamic movements of Capoeira into her signature fitness program, Capoeira Workout®, which is now taught on three continents. More than an exercise program Capoeira Workout has become a bridge between cultures and nations that links participants in a moving aesthetic that transcends artificial boundaries. The methods of Capoeira Workout combine the elegance of dance, the power of martial arts, the science of biomechanics, and the rhythms of Afro-Brazilian music.

Her widely-acclaimed Capoeira Workout is based on the dynamic movements of Capoeira and has been embraced by dancers, martial artists, and athletes seeking performance increases. Her fans and followers include US presidents, academic leaders, and children all around New York! A recent Goggle internet search returned over 250 references to Edna's training and fitness accomplishments.

Capoeira Workout® has responded to the worldwide epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease with innovative fitness programs for at-risk youth and adults. Recent physiological research validated Capoeira Workout's effectiveness and is providing a valuable model for scientific study of the biological effects of both Capoeira and Karate training.

Media coverage has followed her classes which have been internationally acclaimed in American Health, Cosmopolitan, Dance Teacher, Jane, Fitness Magazine, MORE, New Yorker, New York Times, Notorious, SALON, Village Voice, and Vogue-Paris.


Edna Lima introduced the first Capoeira training for school children in her native Brasilia. She directed a groundbreaking program for three years reaching hundreds of students between 10-17 years old.

The Brazilian Education Foundation recognized her accomplishments and invited Lima to conduct Capoeira workshops for teachers throughout the country leading to the establishment of over 10 additional Capoeira programs in public schools.

She now leads the Capoeira Youth program in New York which reaches hundred of children from Harlem to East New York, including African Services Center, Boy's Harbor, Exodus House, Trevor Day School, and New York Public Schools.


During Black History Month in the 2000 Millennium

the City Council of New York

recognized Mestranda Edna Lima

by special Proclamation in New York City Hall


On the occasion of this special Black History Month Celebration in the historic Council Chambers of City Hall, the Council of the City of New York is pleased and proud to honor Edna Lima; and

After years of practice and perseverance Edna Lima became the first woman to attain the level of red cord, the highest cord in Capoeira and therefore, became the first female master of Capoeira, the unique martial art technique that uses percussive music and is said to have been created by African slaves in South America; and

Once in New York City, Ms. Lima taught Capoeira to underprivileged children in East Harlem, gave free classes in Central Park and soon began to teach privately in studios, eventually developing an aerobic version of the martial art that would be embraced by New York's most prominent health clubs; and

Ms. Lima is also an accomplished practitioner of karate and has won several championships on both the Brazilian National Karate Team and the United States National Karate Team; she won first place at the 25th Annual Miyazaki Championship in 1989 and was selected as the "Best Female Competitor of the Year" by Black Belt Magazine in 1991; and

Edna Lima is the subject of many articles, two documentaries and was featured in the 1989 film "Rooftops;" and

Edna Lima's physical prowess is matched only by her ability to learn, master and teach on the academic level; a holder of two undergraduate degrees, one in Physical Education and the other in Psychology with a concentration in Special Education, Ms. Lima is currently on the faculty of Long Island University and has taught at Sarah Lawrence University and Hunter College; now, therefore

That the Council of the City of New York honors EDNA LIMA for her outstanding contributions to the community.

Signed this 24th day of February in the year Two Thousand

Peter F. Valone
Speaker for the Council
Wendell Foster
Council Member

Mestranda Lima's Acceptance Speech:

"Capoeira is a unique African-Brazilian art, developed in Brazil by Africans during the age of slavery. For centuries, defiant slaves trained in Capoeira, and fought for freedom.

For the last 12 years (since 1988) I have lived and taught Capoeira in New York. For me this City represents both challenge and opportunity. New York City is my university. Here I learned to find harmony in chaos, and in the many cultures from around the world, I discovered myself.

I thank the City of New York, for being a home to many cultures from around the world, for offering so many people the same challenge and opportunity.

And finally, I thank the City of New York for recognizing my work, and providing a home to Capoeira."

ING New York Marathon 2006 Capoeira Bateria IOC Olympics Athens 2004 Stage Performance ABADÁ Capoeira New York Classes NYC Blizzard 2006 Outdoor Capoeira Training

Traditional Capoeira Training with Mestranda Edna Lima

ABADÁ Capoeira New York Youth Batizado 2006 Brazilian Cultural Performance 2006 Bronx New York ABADÁ Capoeira Workshop with Mestre Camisa Capoeira Stage Performance at Long Island University

Capoeira training • Brazilian culture • Instrument crafting • Martial arts training
Technique impact training • Theatrical performance • Health and safety

You have improved the lives of countless men and women through Capoeira Workout® and your youth programs in Harlem.
You have made a great contribution to the people of New York, and I commend you for all your achievements.
Hillary and I send our best wishes for a wonderful celebration and continued happiness and success.

William Jefferson Clinton

President of the United States


Edna is a role model for women, an example to be successful in finding their own path in this wonderful art.

Mestre Camisa

Founder & Chief Instructor
ABADÁ Capoeira


Your special talents and spirit embody the meaning of Karate-Do:
the potential for understanding to bridge the distance between people and cultures.
You have been a fierce competitor and important member of the US National Karate Team for many years from Tokyo to Paris to Philadelphia.

Teruyuki Okazaki

Founder and Chief Instructor
International Shotokan Karate Federation


I find you a person of many qualities and I admire your talent, devotion, seriousness, professionalism, charisma, frankness, honesty and deeply felt friendship.

Mestre Joâo Grande

Founder and Chief Instructor
Capoeira Angola Center

National Heritage Fellow
National Endowment for the Arts


As a citizen of the world you show a spirit of compassion and love for your comrades that is a stirring example for us all to follow.
Your ability to transform the physical performance of martial arts to a communication between cultures is truly amazing.

Milorad Stricevic

Associate Dean, School of Health Professions
Long Island University


Your martial arts teach more than the art of fighting.
You are teaching the art of living.

Kai Leung

Chief Instructor
International Shotokai Karate-Do Federation


The combination of your astonishing athletic skills and your warm and caring engagement brought a new vitality to the New York cultural scene.
We are all indebted to you for your continued commitment to the promotion of Capoeira and Brazilian arts.

Barbara Browning

Chair, Department of Performance Studies
New York University


Edna transcends technical excellence and through aesthetics and grace achieves elegance in movement and shows all of us a way to live more beautifully.

Julio Tavares

Professor of Anthropology
Florida Atlantic University
Universidade Federal Fluminense

You represent power and strength not only in Capoeira but also in life. Many lives have been changed for the better due to your presence.

Helen Foster

Commissioner, Division of Human Rights
New York State


Your programs are developing activities that foster discipline and self-respect, and I commend you.

Letitia James

Public Advocate
New York City


We are proud to honor you again for your continued dedication to the arts, as well as your compassion and innovativeness as an instructor.
In addition to earning high-level rank in both Capoeira and Shotokan Karate, you have demonstrated your dedication as a practitioner.
Perhaps more important, you have proved your dedication to the arts as a teacher.

Robert Young

Executive Editor
Black Belt Magazine


Edna is a natural leader and an advocate for the rights of athletes.
Many have gained from knowing her.

Bill Bly

American Samurai Magazine