Playing Life Academy, home of Brincadeira Viva Academy and Footfire Soccer, began in response to West Berkeley youth requests for martial art training and guidance at a safe aftershool haven.

As I had been teaching in schools since the 1980s, it seemed a natural step for my wife, Caroline and I to open our home studio to students for Capoeira and Kung Fu in 1989. The project that started with three children from the neighborhood, grew to classes organized by ages and levels. We were inspired to form a children's performing troupe that provided martial arts-based entertainment and workshops throughout the Bay Area to schools, community groups and corporations. Since opening, Playing Life Academy has proudly graduated 20 students from our advanced training program.

Our Footfire Summer Soccer Camps, has similar community roots. In the 1990s we organized an informal camp at a local park so that our eldest son, Kamani, and his team could continue their soccer training throughout the summer. This attracted the interest of other children and their parents. In 1995 Footfire Summer Soccer Camps officially began with a three week program. In 1999 we added a fourth week, began serving lunch and took a competitive team to Hawaii. Since 2009 we have been operating at capacity for seven weeks of the summer season.

It's important to us that Playing Life Academy not outgrow its community roots. The inspiration for Playing Life Academy has always been my childhood experience of play in Trinidad. There were no camps. There was no expensive equipment. Yet my brother Nigel, sister and I went to the field everyday, all day, organizing the games ourselves and playing our hearts out. Playing Life Academy's goal is to pass on the love of play – a simple, self-motivated and organic path to learning - to our students.

Playing Life Academy continues to evolve. We've found an exceptional group of movement and music educators – talented, experienced and inspirational. We've matched their strengths with new programming for children, teens and adults that bring Dance, Fitness and Music to our Fourth Street location.

We are thrilled with how Playing Life Academy has grown, yet remains a small, strong and steady organization. We still offer guidance and a safe social haven, but with 20 years of experience has come greater depth of commitment and a refreshed vision. We feel this is the optimal setting for learning and creating a community based on the martial arts principles of honesty, integrity, generosity, loyalty and fairness.

We invite you to play and grow along with us!