Capoeira studio brings Brazil to kids

Christine and Marcos Martins built up the martial art in the community

INNER CIRCLE: Jobim “Besourinho” Richardson is all smiles as he is joined by friends in a roda.

In the early evening, youngsters come into Axé Capoeira on St. Clair Avenue West, and salute their maestre, Christine Martins, with the traditional “Salve” fist bump.

Their smiles are as long as the cordas hanging on the walls, and they hit the floor with an energy as lively as a Rio Carnival.

The Fonseca family, father Alan, mother Anna, and daughters Victoria, 7, and Isabella, 5, come in and greet Martins.

For the three years, they’ve been coming to the studio to handstand, cartwheel, and jinga in a centuries old martial art.

MI FAMILIA: Alan Fonseca revisited his love of capoeira and brought his family together to train with him. Daughters Victoria, left, and Isabella take part in the children’s class.

Fonseca, 33, took capoeira lessons when he lived in his homeland of Brazil. His trip to Canada, at 16, led him to give up the craft. But double that age later, he re-enters and brought his young family along for the training.

“It keeps the family together,” he admitted. “At least we’re not at home, sitting watching TV.”

Fonseca doubles as a training assistant, it’s his hope to help teach the self-defense game to those thirsty for baneneiras, aus or the ginga.

His daughters happen to be those thirsty for baneneiras, which are handstands.

Martins is thrilled by their interest and devotion. She runs the children’s training and runs the studio with husband Marcos.

“We are very community-based. And having the six days of classes. We started with three days a week,” she said.

Axé Capoeira has over a hundred kids in their program, which was introduced after the studio expanded in 2009. They took over the space of Twin Dragons, and haven’t looked back, earning the designation of three-time Top Choice Awards winners. They’ve also appeared on Dragon’s Den and performed for the Toronto Raptors during their half-time shows.

A lot of the young students come from the area and arrive right after school. It’s all a part of the beat.

“We practise all of our movements to the music, and it gets the kids moving,” Martins said. “Every lesson has some sort of music element to it.”

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