Fabio Maximino gives back through the colorful art of Capoeira
LAHAINA — Fabio Maximino is a young man with a mission.
In 1996, he was just another kid on the streets in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
He had recently lost his mom.
“Back then, I had a lot of bad influence in my life. On the beach… let’s go drink… let’s go surf… and nothing about school. If my mom still alive, she doesn’t want to see me doing that bad,” he said.
“That was when my friend came and invite me to go to a Capoeira class. He wanted to help me, ’cause he noticed I was kind of sad after my mom passed away. He wanted to give me something to do. I was 17 years old. He was 25. He felt that I was going down.
“He took me as an older brother to help me. I think God brought him — the perfect time and the right time. Capoeira really saved my life,” Maximino recalled.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music and dance. It was created in Brazil by slaves from Africa sometime in the 16th century. Some describe it as a fighting style designed for rebellion but disguised by a façade of dance.
Flash forward 14 years later and thousands of miles across the Pacific, Maximino, the father of a new baby boy, is all about giving back.
“I’m a professor. I’m a blue belt. That means I graduate in Capoeira,” said the dedicated teacher, explaining his ranking.
A teacher the past ten years, Maximino moved to Maui in 2000.
He’s the founder of Rio Maui Training and the executive director of the recently formed island nonprofit Maui Capoeira, and he’s surrounded by people who support his cause.
The County of Maui Volunteer Center recently recognized the 32-year-old with its Volunteer Shining Star award for his “dedication, commitment and determination in promoting, supporting volunteerism throughout Maui County.”
West Side community leader Tehani Villalobos nominated him for the award.
On the application, she described Maximino as “an exemplary individual committed and dedicated to countless hours of teaching and mentoring to the children and families of West Maui.”
Villalobos has children who participate in Capoeira, and she serves on the Maui Capoeira board of directors as secretary.
“His involvement in the community is ongoing. He provides free one-hour classes three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the Saturday class offered to parents/guardians of the children,” she wrote in the application statement.
Ka‘elo Lindsey has been a student at the Rio Maui Training Center for six years. His dad is Ed “Ekolu” Lindsey III, who serves as vice president of the new nonprofit.
“I first got Ka‘elo into Capoeira, because it was something to do on a Saturday. He liked it, and we just kept on going.
“This sport is good for youth to increase flexibility, strength and body awareness. Capoeira involves music, too. This teaches the kids how to play instruments (berimbau, atabaque, pandiro, agogo), rhythm, and they also have to sing in Portuguese. The kids also have to perform, which gets them up in front of a group of peers and others,” Lindsey affirmed.
Lindsey considers Maximino a good influence.
“Fabio is a good mentor/teacher, because he is patient and understands that some of these kids are headed in the wrong direction. It gives the kids an outlet to a better life. As a role model/mentor, Fabio teaches them respect, focus and gives them goals to achieve — just like life,” Lindsey added matter-of-fact.
Angela Fortey agrees wholeheartedly.
“My son has been a student of Fabio’s for about a year-and-a-half. He started when he was four-and-a-half. I can’t tell you how amazing Fabio is. He just continually gives back and gives back to the community.
“My son absolutely adores him,” Fortey continued. “I’m a single mom. He’s a great male influence on my son.”
“He’s also made an effort to invite children who cannot pay, because that was his experience. He got out of doing the bad things he was doing by having a place he could go. I see him doing that with several children that are here, who may not have anywhere else to go.”
Lindsey was heartfelt in attributing the success of the Capoeira youth program to Maximino.
“Fabio does this from the heart. Many people have asked Fabio how much he charges for the classes (for children), and his response is always, ‘No — this is for the kids. There is no fee.’ I’ve suggested he charge a nominal $20 per month, but he is adamant about giving back to the kids from his heart. He refuses to charge any of the kids, because it’s his way of giving back to the kids and also his way of sharing his culture with Hawaii.”
The Rio Maui Training Center is located at 505 Front Street.
The mission of the nonprofit is: “Maui Capoeira empowers youth by the teaching of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. By teaching skills that are athletic and artful in a safe and positive environment, Maui Capoeira strives to help youth become physically fit and self-reliant, learn trust and cooperation, build self-esteem, achieve respect for oneself and others, and find an outlet for creative expression.”
Other board members are President Mark Cajudoy, Treasurer Juenlee Brown and directors Stacy and Bill Bookland.
Maximino is pleased with the direction.
“Finally we got the right group of people. They’re all parents. They all have kids training with us. That’s why we call it group, but we should call it family, because they happen to have me helping them out a little bit teaching their kids. As a give back, they help me… and we all happy,” Maximino explained.
He summarized his feelings.
“When I moved to Maui, I didn’t know to much about Hawaiian culture. I always been love for the culture. That was one of the reasons why I move here. So my Hawaiian friends, local friends, asked me to start teaching some Capoeira moves. The next thing I know, I learning hula, and they teaching me Hawaiian culture. Then I started teaching Brazilian culture.
“After that, I started dancing hula in one of the most popular luaus on Maui… and then Hawaiians, they started performing — doing Capoeira shows all over Maui, and Oahu and the Mainland as well. Now the Hawaiians can sing Capoeira all in Portuguese, and I can dance hula,” he said.
“It was a good deal for all of us. Learn different culture. My job is to keep the culture alive. That’s what I’m doing teaching Capoeira and teaching the kids what I learn from my professor — how to be a good citizen and share that with people. That’s pretty much what aloha means — teach the new generation the good things.”