VC REPORTER Visits Capoeira Class

Physical History


By: JennyLower

Capoeira Batuque teaches Ventura County students about Brazilian culture, the power of movement and the art of falling down well

It is Tuesday night at the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura, and capoeira student and instructor Michael Shuman is standing on his head. Against a backdrop of vivid murals celebrating Ventura County’s historical Tortilla Flats neighborhood and the thousands of Mexican, Asian and European residents displaced by the building of the 101 Freeway, 10 students stand in a roda, or circle, clapping and chanting in time to drums and tambourines. In the center, Shuman, still supporting his weight on his head, has leveraged both legs perpendicular to the floor to kick at his opponent. He fails to make contact. So Shuman rolls out of the headstand and into a tesoura, or scissor kick, propelling his body along the floor with both arms while his legs skim across the ground, finally trapping his opponent’s feet between his own. The other player trips, and Shuman calls the game. They stand up, shake hands and rejoin the circle.