Founded in Rio de Janeiro, Group Senzala has been in existence for over 40 years. The group is probably the most famous Capoeira group in the world thanks to its many masters and other teachers of Capoeira. First introduced to Great Britain in 1971 by Nestor Capoeira, it did not flourish until 1989, with the arrival of Fernando C.C. Albuquerque (Mestre Gato). Group Senzala’s history begins in 1963 in Rio de Janeiro. Paulo, Rafael and Gilberto Flores, three brothers, originally from Bahia (homeland of Capoeira) had moved to Rio de Janeiro. They began to study Capoeira, during their school vacations, back in Salvador, Bahia. They trained with two of the most famous masters that ever lived, namely Master Bimba and Master Pastinha. Capoeira had become such an important part of their lives that they began to train on a regular basis. Paulo got in touch with other capoeira teachers in Rio de Janeiro and started to lead weekly training sessions in the terrace of their apartment building located at Laranjeiras neighbourhood, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Originally the group trained according to the teaching’s of Mestre Bimba but gradually began to incorporate influences from Rio de Janeiro. By this time the group was the premier Capoeira group in Rio de Janeiro and one of the most widely known in the whole of Brazil.
In the following years the group grew in size and influenced many other groups in various states. The 12 initial members went in different directions and new mestres were graded. Capoeira also started spreading to the USA and Europe in the early eighties.
Mestre Gato was the first to introduce Capoeira in the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Fundao campus, in 1967 as did other mestres of Senzala, at several other schools, clubs and universities. The mestres of Senzala started to organize national and international meetings, always trying to bring the old mestres to teach the participants.