Mestre Camisa Roxa was considered Mestre Bimba’s best student. An authoritative council of Mestres gave him the lifetime title of “Grão-Mestre” from Abadá-capoeira. This title indicates that he is the highest-ranking guide and counselor in all of Abadá-capoeira worldwide. He is the capoeirista that has contributed the most to spreading capoeira around the world, by presenting capoeira as a Brazilian art form and culture in more than 50 countries.
Camisa Roxa was born in 1944, at the Estiva farm, in the State of Bahia. He started to practice capoeira, for fun, at the age of 10, and was followed later by all his brothers. In the 1960’s, he went to Salvador, to study at a high school. He then started training capoeira at Mestre Bimba’s Academy, where he graduated and was considered the best student by his Mestre.
Grão Mestre’s nickname comes from the fact that he would always wear a purple shirt (camisa roxa) , which he really liked, at the capoeira rodas that he attended in Bahia. He also liked to play in the rodas of traditional capoeira at Mestre Pastinha’s academy and at Mestres Waldemar and Traíra’s academy, at Rua Pero Vaz, where he was much respected for his great knowledge of capoeira’s fundaments and for his professional demeanor.
Camisa Roxa thinks of capoeira as a whole, reconciling Regional and Angola. “In reality, very few people understood Mestre Bimba real intentions”, said Grão Mestre. “Hewanted to a tall capoeira first, with his method, but with time, every person should learn how to play low”, he concludes.
Camisa Roxa coordinates Abadá-capoeira in Europe, regularly organizing workshops for instructors and professors in the area. He is also the organizer of the Spring Capoeira Encounter in Europe and of the Abadá-capoeira European Games. These events aim at integrating and updating capoeiristas in Europe, through theoretical and practical classes ministered by guest Mestres from Brazil.Today, Grão Mestre dedicates a lot of his time to research capoeira, always pursuing new routes and ways to make capoeira more visible around the world. To him, in Brazil, there should be more unity among the different groups, so that it is possible to better organize activities and courses. He says: “Maybe a more disciplined capoeira and more union among the leaders will produce a more professional and responsible capoeira”. Camisa Roxa says that when he passes on his experience he attempts to pay back all the great things that capoeira has given him.