Grupo Senzala

Grupo Senzala was founded in 60s Rio de Janeiro by a group of young men, including a man named Marcelo Azevedo Guimarães - today known as Mestre Peixinho.

Several of the group's founders were university students, and therefore had a theoretical and different approach to capoeira than the general capoeiristas of the time. They were the first to systematize the capoeira training, and developed what later became known to the world as the "Senzala style".

The young men were inspired by the iconic masters of the time, Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha from Bahia, and Mestre Leopoldina from Rio de Janeiro.

In 1967 they signed up for the capoeira tournament "Berimbau de Ouro". The need to define themselves arose and they decided on a strong name: Grupo Senzala. Senzala is the name for the houses where the slaves were locked up on the plantations.

After much deliberation, they chose to participate in uniform white pants, inspired by other Afro-Brazilian cultural manifestations, such as candomble and samba de roda. Chains around the waists were considered as belts, but not chosen, as it was uncomfortable and impractical to move in. The choice became a red belt for all, as a symbol of the slaves' suffering and strength. Later, Grupo Senzala's grading system was developed.

To everyone's surprise, not least their own, they won the tournament - a success that was repeated three years in a row.

Founders of Grupo Senzala.

Grupo Senzala grew rapidly, and in 1974 the founders each got their own department, where they developed their own style in different areas of Rio de Janeiro. In the mid-eighties, capoeira slowly spread outside of Brazil, and Senzala came to the Netherlands with Mestre Grilo and Mestre Samara. Mestre China taught in France, where in 1987, in collaboration with Mestre Peixinho, he organized the first international capoeira meeting the world had seen outside of Brazil.

Capoeira and Senzala came to Denmark in the 80s with Ana Pompeia. She studied physical education at the University of Rio de Janeiro in the same year as Mestre Peixinho and Mestre Toni Vargas, with whom she also trained capoeira. After finishing her education, she got married in Denmark and moved with her husband to Copenhagen.

Today Grupo Senzala has grown huge, represented worldwide with thousands of students, teachers and more than 100 masters, including the first ever European capoeira master, Mestre Steen. Grupo Senzala could celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2023.