Best Place to Handstand

Capoeira Arts Café

Yoga isn’t violent enough, and kickboxing’s a bore. You need a rhythm faster than your heartbeat and a workout that enhances body, mind, and spirit in equal proportions. At $80 a month, capoeira isn’t cheap, but students at the Capoeira Arts Café receive instruction from Mestre Acordeon, who learned from Mestre Bimba, the father of modern capoeira. The martial art, which African slaves brought to Brazil, incorporates music, dance, gymnastics, and combat techniques in a graceful, dangerous synthesis. Acordeon’s café, a restaurant and capoeira school with more than 400 enrolled students, is a little bit of Bahia in Berkeley. Dozens of berimbaus, bow-like musical instruments used to make music by which the martial art is “played,” hang from the ceiling, and the walls are painted with Brazilian street scenes. Capoeira’s essence is expressed at the end of each class in the jogo, an intense acrobatic spectacle that pits the capoeiristas in a playful combative dance. It’s an inspiring scene, even if you’re just watching through the bottom of a smoothie glass in the café.

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