Born on April 14,1960 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, William Douglas Guimaraes began playing Capoeira in the mid-70’s with Mestre Jacaré (Alligator). After a year of training with Mestre Jacaré, he moved to Rio de Janeiro to train with Mestre Gigante (Giant). It was during this time, while playing in a roda on a cold day with white gloves, that he earned the nickname “Mão Branca” or “white hand.”
Mestre Gigante had founded the Capoeira group called “Negrinhos de Sinha” Association in 1976; however, he died in 1989, leaving his group without a leader. Meanwhile, Mão Branca had become a mestre (master) of Capoeira and had returned to his hometown of Belo Horizonte. Almost four years after the death of Mestre Gigante, Mão Branca decided to pick up where his mestre left off by establishing the group Capoeira Gerais. Ever since, Mestre Mão Branca has dedicated his life to using Capoeira Gerais to better the lives of children in disadvantaged neighborhoods, as well as to develop and promote Capoeira in Brazil and throughout the world. In addition to their 20 schools in Brazil, the Capoeira Gerais group has branches all over the world, including Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Chile, the U.S., Italy, France, and Japan.
In 1992, Mestre Mão Branca was awarded the “Diploma of Honor for Merit in Sports” from the Municipal Chamber of Belo Horizonte, and he earned the title of “Illustrious Citizen of Belo Horizonte” for his social work with the communities of the state of Minas Gerais. He is also the president and founder of the Minas Gerais Capoeira Federation and co-founder of the Brazilian Capoeira Confederation. In 2005, he graduated to “branco azul,” the third level of mestre in Capoeira Gerais. Ten years later, Mestre Mão Branca was promoted to the highest level of mestre and awarded the an entirely white “cordão” by a coalition of his fellow mestres.
Mestre Mão Branca continues to promote Capoeira through workshops, seminars and classes in Brazil, and he travels extensively to teach courses and organize special Capoeira events around the world. He has produced several documentaries and videos in addition to recording and releasing four CDs, which sold more than 80,000 copies. He is also known for the unique handshake he created using three motions of the hand, each one representing “garra” – determination, “união” – unity, and “força” – strength.
Mestres are legendary for their wisdom and tact, as well as their skill. They work to preserve the traditions and history of Capoeira while training students to become teachers of quality and character. With his unconditional dedication and great success, Mestre Mão Branca can surely be considered one of today’s greatest representatives of the art of Capoeira.