CDO India is India’s first school for capoeira, the unique martial art form that originated in Brazil and is now cartwheeling its way worldwide. After 12 years of teaching capoeira to adults and kids at their centres and schools across the country, our friends at CDO India realised they weren’t hitting the mark with a key audience at their centres – children between the ages of 5 and 12.

After many rounds of questions that have no place in this post and a lot of shiny brainstorming with team CDO, Bee concluded that CDO India needed a mascot younger kids (and their parents) could relate to. So she came up with a strategy for a mascot that would simultaneously educate parents and inspire kids of all genders and persuasions to take up capoeira.

And thus was born Pega Tudo (our to do) who can sing, dance, play music, show off all the acrobatic moves of capoeira. Pega is about 14 or 15 years old, older than our target audience, but not by much. An older friend whom a child would be thrilled to emulate. Friendly, androgynous and an embodiment of CDO India’s evocative happyfit culture. Pega Tudo was the hero CDO India needed and the friend every child deserves.

So with that in mind, Bee and I got to work on what our ideal Pega Tudo would look like. The mascot we came up with would become the cornerstone of all of CDO India’s communications, so we had to make them memorable.

Our first iteration was quite simplistic – an enthusiastic, short-haired child, in the stylings of Caillou and many other such cartoon characters with the dot-like eyes that can lend themselves to a varied range of emotions and expressions. I roughed up a sketch of them standing proud in the classic Superman pose that all the TED talks tell you about, confident and ready to lead.

This first iteration of Pega had several issues. They lacked depth and character, for one. And secondly, they looked too young and possibly not androgynous enough. Bee suggested I go with a more manga-esque style to flesh out what they would look like, and reference anatomy guides to proportion Pega better. After all, we were soon going to use Pega to display a variety of capoeira moves, so anatomical accuracy was key. My next two iterations of Pega were taller and more detailed – we looked at various examples of eye styles in manga until we found one that I could reference. For the hair? Well, I have enough references of what my hair has looked like as an androgynous-presenting person of various ages, so I didn’t really need to look very far.

We were almost there. To finish up, we made Pega’s hair longer and shaggier but still quite distinct in shape (like the shaggy curated bed head I wanted when I was that age but never had). Then, we placed them in a simple standing pose, with a beaming smile that guaranteed approachability, and put them in CDO India’s easily recognisable black, yellow and white uniform. The green belt or cordão holds special significance – in capoeira, green cordãos are given to a student at their first batizado (baptism) when they’re officially welcomed into the fold. We didn’t want Pega Tudo to be an advanced student or a teacher but a beginner.

So that’s how we evolved our friendly neighbourhood capoeira herói. If you drop into a class, you’re sure to run into them – learning with the other capoeira criancas – demonstrating their moves, playing the berimbau, and showing off all you can learn from the art of capoeira. If you’re interested, CDO India have online classes that you can take from the safety of your home.