Mestre Carlos Senna was born on October 28, 1931, in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
He started practicing capoeira in 1949 under the guidance of Mestríssimo Mestre Bimba, graduating in 1950. He was part of Mestre Bimba’s memorable team that gave a capoeira demonstration to then Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas, in the Palácio Da Aclamação in 1953. This demonstration became a milestone in capoeira history as the event that led to the decriminalization of the Afro-Brazilian martial art, which until then had been seen as a criminal activity. Mestre Senna remained part of the Centro de Cultura Física Regional Baiana —Mestre Bimba’s capoeira academy—until 1953, becoming in 1954 the academy’s technical director.
On October 25, 1955, Mestre Senna founded the Centro de Pesquisa, Estudo e Instrução de Capoeira Senavox (Center for Research, Study and Instruction of Capoeira Senavox), the third school in capoeira history. In Senavox, Mestre Senna introduced the use of the abadá (white clothing traditionally worn by carriage drivers, cargo loaders, and clothes collectors) as uniforms for capoeiristas (capoeira practioners), the salve (greeting that begins and ends a capoeira session), and a system of classification and competition.
Through his initiative, capoeira classes were introduced in Bahia’s sports and social centers (Bahiano de Tênis and Associação Atlética da Bahia), in schools and in the Colégio Militar de Salvador, further helping bring respectability to the art form. He was also the author of two proposals that allowed the National Sports Council (Conselho Nacional de Desportos – CND) to proclaim capoeira Brazil’s national sport in 1972.
In the field of capoeira as a sport, Mestre Senna was two times Brazilian champion as coach of the Bahia state team. He also organized two Bahian championships, three try-out tournaments to assemble the Bahia state team for Brazilian championships, and one Senavox Cup of Capoeira. He also edited two capoeira journals for Senavox.
Mestre Senna published two books on capoeira, both in Portuguese. His first, Capoeira Percurso (Capoeira Journey), discusses the history and philosophy of capoeira with personal accounts of his own life in capoeira, while his second book lays down the rules for competitive capoeira in a tournament setting.
In addition to his career in capoeira, Mestre Senna graduated with a degree in Accounting from the Fundação Visconde de Cayrú da Faculdade de Ciêcias Humanas . He became an expert in the fields of school psychology, sports medicine, physical education, management of small and medium businesses, massage therapy, psychology of personnel selection, and scientific programming, among others.
Mestre Senna passed away on November 4, 2002 at the age of 71. He shall always be remembered as a shining star in the capoeira sky.