Mestre Camisa, born José Tadeu Carneiro Cardoso, grew up on a farm known as Fazenda Estiva in northeast of Brazil, in the state of Bahia. He grew up with nine siblings, the eldest being Edvaldo Carneiro da Silva, who became the capoeirista Camisa Roxa. Mestre Camisa first began studying capoeira at about the age of seven, following the movements of others playing in neighborhood street rodas and instructed by his older brother Camisa Roxa, himself a student of the legendary Mestre Bimba.
When Camisa turned 12 years old, Camisa Roxa convinced their mother to allow him to attend Mestre Bimba’s academy in Salvador, where he received more formal education in the art and was exposed to the diversity of practitioners gathered in the city. After about a year, Camisa became an Aluno Formado, a graduated student of Mestre Bimba.
In the early 70’s, Camisa joined his brother in a year-long tour of Brazil with the folkloric dance company Olodum Maré, also known as the Grupo Folclórico de Bahia, which performed traditional arts including capoeira.The tour included three months of performances in Rio de Janeiro before the troupe departed for a reformulated tour of Europe. Mestre Camisa stayed in Brazil, as he was supposed to return to Salvador to complete his studies;instead, he remained in Rio and began earning his living by teaching capoeira.
His first few months in Rio were difficult personally as he was basically poor and did not have established friends or connections in the city. He began to offer training in capoeira and slowly gained students. It was during this first period in Rio that Mestre Camisa first began to consider the need to design a formal structure for classes, to draw up a basic lesson plan, to create a place for studying and teaching, a place to debate techniques and discuss concepts. In addition, he felt the need to give a family-like structure to so many people who had left behind their cities and their friends and families and moved to Rio to dedicate themselves to capoeira. The latter was the main impetus for the creation of a new organization that would, in 1988, become ABADÁ-Capoeira.
Since the beginning of the 1980s, Mestre Camisa had been drawing on his experience in Mestre Bimba’s Academy to develop his own style and build his school. His unique technique and methodology improved the martial aspect of capoeira, and established him as the leading capoeira master in the world. Since he does not have a massive physique, Camisa developed a technique to neutralize his opponent with slips, takedowns, speed, and efficiency in the application of the moves, blows, and kicks. This technique allows him to face a bigger opponent under equal conditions.
Mestre Camisa is constantly researching capoeira and improving his style. He teaches workshops and seminars and attends batizados in Brazil and throughout the world. Through ABADÁ-Capoeira, Mestre Camisa is defining a new contemporary language of capoeira that seeks to respect and preserve the traditions and foundations of capoeira, and to follow all aspects of its evolution—as a martial art, as a playful game, as a source of rhythms and songs, and as a spontaneous art form—as the schools expand throughout the world. He has become eminently respected in Brazil and in the worldwide capoeira community for his contributions to the art. In Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form, Bira Almeida, "Mestre Acordeon," notes, "Camisa is one of the best contemporary teachers and a very accomplished capoeirista, who has been training ceaselessly since he was twelve. Influenced by his older brother, Camisa Rôxa, Camisa's strong commitment to Capoeira is reflected in his maturity in the art and in the result of his work."
Camisa is currently the Grão Mestre of ABADÁ-Capoeira, having followed Camisa Roxa in that role.