Who We Are

ArteLuta Capoeira Academy

In May 2010, we opened ArteLuta Capoeira Academy as a cultural and artistic space that offers classes in capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines aspects of acrobatics, dance, music, fight, self-defense, among other things. Capoeira is unique because of its emphasis on the power of community, its history and connection to the roots, especially felt through the music. We truly enjoy teaching this important and necessary cultural art to our community here in the South Bay of Los Angeles, our home since 2006. 

About Mestre Varal

Photo by Kelley Fajack, 2016.

Born and raised in Brazil, Varal began his capoeira training at the age of 11 inside the hall of a church in his neighborhood in Porto Alegre, RS – Brazil, where Mestre Leca, a student of Mestre Indio of Bahia, and his students Rubão, Beto Loco, Reco among others, started to teach capoeira classes, changing the daily routine of this little community. These classes caught the attention of everyone in the neighborhood, especially the kids, who watched with great curiosity and admiration. Little by little, the church hall started filling up with spectators, kids and adults. And thus began Varal’s journey in capoeira. He had no idea that this art form would eventually influence his life, and develop into his own life philosophy and profession.

Cardeal, Varal, Saracura and others in Porto Alegre, RS (Brasil).
(Left to right) Cardeal, Varal, Saracura and others in Porto Alegre, RS (Brasil).

Capoeira has the power to change lives with its strong cultural history and values. It is important to remember that capoeira emerged from an era of great suffering for Brazil, and by continuing to preserve the practice, we honor our culture and nurture our roots.

In 2000, Varal graduated as Professor of Capoeira by Mestre Indio (Bahia) and Mestre Reco in Porto Alegre, RS – Brazil. He continued working with capoeira in Porto Alegre, then six years later, came to California to teach, train and live with his teacher.

Photo by Kelly Fajack, 2016.

In May 2010, with the encouragement of his students and mentors, Contramestre Varal opened ArteLuta Capoeira Academy in Lomita, CA – USA, together with his wife Monica (Professora Harmonia), with the mission of teaching, expanding and preserving the values, history, culture and legacy of the art of capoeira – bringing people together and changing lives along the way.

Capoeira is their lifestyle. Varal says, it guides him make good choices in life and has encouraged him to be a culture carrier outside of his country, something he is very proud of. Varal started capoeira when he was a kid, and he credits it for helping him stay focused, healthy and grounded. He says, since it helped him in so many positive ways, he believes that everyone can benefits from it. 

2015 marked an important milestone as the foremost leaders in our California capoeira community met and decided, as a collective, to promote Varal to the rank of Contramestre “in recognition of his merits, discipline and determination demonstrated by his pursuit of excellence in both capoeira and in character, as well as for his dedication to preserving and expanding the art of capoeira.”

Varal’s Formatura to Contramestre, 2015.

They included: Mestre Acordeon (UCA, Berkeley, CA); Mestre Roque (BodySport Capoeira, Long Beach, CA); Mestre Urubu Malandro (Capoeira Ijexá, San Francisco, CA); Mestre Amen Santo (Capoeira Batuque, Culver City, CA); Mestre Batata (Capoeira Besouro, Santa Monica, CA); Mestre Paulo Batuta (Capoeira Mandinga, San Diego, CA); Mestre Papaléguas (Capoeira Menino Bom, San Diego, CA); Mestre Mariano (Capoeira Batuque, Santa Barbara, CA); Mestre Penteado (Cordão de Ouro, Irvine, CA); Mestre Mumia (Capoeira Brasil, Long Beach, CA); Mestre Elias (Quilombos de San Diego, San Diego, CA); Mestre Borracha (Los Angeles, CA); Mestre Sabará (San Diego, CA); and Mestre Pelourinho (Tijuana, MX/ San Diego, CA).

In December 2023, the mestres of our California capoeira community, and beyond, collectively promoted Contramestre Varal to the rank of Mestre in recognition of his life long dedication and commitment to respecting, preserving and promoting the culture and art of capoeira, and everything that capoeira is and represents. Varal consistently demonstrates a pursuit of excellence in both capoeira and in character.

Among those recognizing him is Mestre Léca, the founder of the group CentroSul Capoeira, in Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil where Varal started 35 years ago. He was, and still is, an important reference on Varal’s journey.

They also included Mestre Lobão, Mestre Roque, Mestre Amen Santo, Mestre Batata, Mestre Papiba, as well as Mestre Acordeon, Mestra Sueli, Mestre Itabora, Mestre Paulo Batuta, Mestre Muralha, Mestre Muito Tempo who couldn’t physically be there for various reasons, but sent their support & love.

Other friends who came to celebrate with us were Mestre Tico, Moraes, Mestre Japa, Mestre Máscara, Mestre Chipa, Mestrando Chin, Mestre Pelorinho, Mestre Girafa, Mestre Espaço, Mestra Minha Velha, CM Coruja Miuda, CM Aldo di Bahia, CM Massapê, CM Sabiá, CM Mortal, CM Valter, CM Pererê, CM Mosquito, Prof. Quati, Prof. Monica Nega, Prof. Raphaela, Prof. Saracuru, Prof. Kaçador, Prof. PiuPiu, Prof. Tarantula, Prof. DiMassa, Prof. Rapadura, and Prof. Furacão, to name a few.

About Professora Harmonia

Our capoeira kids class is open for kids ages 4-12 and is taught by Professora Harmonia. She has been training capoeira for over 20 years, and teaching kids and adults for over 10 years.

She started training capoeira around 2001 in Albuquerque, NM with Contramestre Maluco, UCA (Mestre Acordeon), then moved to California in 2003 where she continued studying with Centrosul Capoeira (Gui) then Mestre Reco until around 2009.

She continued her training under now Mestre Varal and helped open ArteLuta Capoeira Academy in 2010. In 2016, she was officially recognized as an Instrutora of Capoeira, and in 2022, as Professora. She believes that capoeira gives you the opportunity to tap into a deep and challenging (lifelong) journey of introspection, growth and connection.

Here are some photos of her formatura to Professora in 2022.