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History of Grupo Senzala

Grupo Senzala is the world’s oldest organized Capoeira group that remains together. The inception of the group traces back to 1960, when three brothers from the Northeastern state of Bahia moved to Rio and decided to continue their studies of Capoeira on their own. They were soon joined by other teenagers interested in the art which were to become the founding fathers of Grupo Senzala.


The name Senzala, however, was only used for the first time in 1966, at which point the group was almost 20-people strong. Senzala was the place where slaves were kept during the hours when they were not working in Brazil. By choosing that name for the group, the founders were making their first statement that they viewed Capoeira not only as a rich sport and martial art, but also as a part of Brazil’s cultural heritage.

In 1967, the then group of students signed up to participate in Rio de Janeiro’s first Berimbau de Ouro, a competition created by a folklore promotion entity to promote Capoeira and evaluate which was the best group in Brazil’s former capital. With a theatrical performance in which they showed their expertise at the martial aspects and acrobatics of Capoeira but also underscored its history and traditions, Grupo Senzala won this first competition.


They also won the following two Berimbaus de Ouro. As a result, the Capoeira community gave them the titles of masters of Capoeira.

Grupo Senzala graduation system

Graduation system capoeira senzala

Crude (or white)  New student

Yellow                    Beginner student

Orange                   Advanced beginner

Grey                        Intermediate student

Blue                        Graduated               

Green                     Instructor

Violet yellow         Professor

Violet                      Professor

Brown yellow        Contra Mestre

Brown                     Contra Mestre

Red yellow              Contra Mestre

Red                           Mestre

Senzala in the World


Singapore - Professor Pitbull




Canberra - Mestre Rodriginho

North America

United States of America

New York - Mestre Zumbi

Hawai - Contra Mestre Japa

South America


Rio de Janeiro - Mestre Toni Vargas

São Paulo - Mestre Flávio Carangejo

Goiás - Professor Pablo

Vila Velha - Mestre Gavião

Criciuma - Professor Ramires

There are Senzala groups in all the states of Brazil but there is not enough place on this website to put them all.

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