A Chamada – the Game in the Game

The Call

Before I start telling you things about the Chamada I have to explain why I am doing it.

In the last few years I have seen many Capoeiristas, students learning Capoeira Regional, Contemporeana AND Angola, being quite surprised when the other one lifted his hands to the Chamada. Most of them usually did not know how to react. Some did not even know what was happening at all. Those where the ones who never saw a Capoeira Angola game at all. In Capoeira Angola, there is a subroutine, a game in the game itself, and that is called Chamada. I am able to explain aspects of it, but definitely not everything around it, because it is like trying to explain Capoeira. It is nothing for words, more something you have to see, or – and this is the best – to experience yourself! I tried to find some online material about the Chamada, and found either surface information, or throughout bad information. I already have written little things about the Chamada, but not really detailed. So I decided to write another post and make you comment and add information – so that more people have at least an idea about the Chamada.

What is the Chamada?

Chamada can be translated as “The Call”. It is the situation when the Capoeira Angola game changes it´s pace and one of the players stands in a ritualistic stance, calling the other player to come to him and engage into a ritual-like dance. The Chamada is one of the least understood and least explained parts of a Capoeira Angola game. Yet, a Capoeira Angola Roda without a Chamada would miss a lot of its fascination.

Why do people do the Chamada?

There are about a zillion reasons, why you could start a Chamada. Usually it is one of these reasons:

  • You got tired and want to have a breath, the Chamada will give you a couple of seconds of rest, although (as I will explain later) rest does not mean that you can relax…
  • The players did not have a compatible game. Sometimes two players have difficulties getting along with each other and do entangle themselves in ugly little trouble. To calm down a situation like this, a Chamada comes in handy.
  • One player got hit. If unintentionally, the Chamada will help focus the concentration, if intentionally, the Chamada will help calming down the mood.
  • One player wants to test the abilities of the other. Usually a beginner or not-so-advanced player wont see and know all the subtleties of a Chamada. So the Chamada is also a good test, how good and advanced a player really is. There are a lot of youngsters out there who are able to do the fanciest movements or don’t have to be afraid of any opponent, but they get lost in a Chamada.

Are there rules about the Chamada?

Shortly said: there are no real rules about the Chamada. There are actually different ritualistic positions for the Chamada and it is good to know as much of them as possible. As there are many different positions it is good to try to remember every position – and the possible dangers of those. Generally, a Chamada is divided into the Intro, the Dance and the Leaving of the Chamada. All these are ruled by the one who “calls”. He calls the other player, who has to come, he does give the Dance its speed and rhythm, and he does say when the Chamada goes to an end and in which direction the game shall go on.

Oh, I forgot, there is one rule-of-thumb which is just very smart for the average player: do not call the mestre. As I said before, the Chamada is also some kind of test. Some Mestres do have issues with students calling them into the Chamada, and you don’t want to find out the hard way, do you?

The most important thing…

…is that the Chamada is still happening in the Roda. And in the Roda you have the general rule: be aware. Nobody says that the Chamada will end a peaceful way. There is always a possibility that a Tesoura is coming in the middle of the Chamada. And if you approach, be aware, that the knee, the elbow or the head of the caller are always very close. You come into close contact with the other person. You actually do touch the person for a longer time (which is not very common in an Angola game). So every step during the Chamada is dangerous and does call for a high level of attention by the player (so much about relaxing, as I said earlier in this post).

The approach

You are playing in the roda. Suddenly your partner does make a couple of steps away from you and lifts both hands, facing you, waiting. You have to approach. There is no rule how you should approach. It is mostly group-specific. Some groups do have the rule that the one who is called can show his acrobactic abilities for a while and then approach. Some teachers do attack you when you do not respond to their Chamada immediately. In most cases it seems to be ok to move on the ground, approaching slowly.

It is always important to be highly attentive when you approach. It is sometimes said that the approach and the leaving of the Chamada are the most dangerous situations. I disagree. As long as you are in close contact to the other player, engaging in the Chamada, attention and alertness are the things you have to rely on. And this is not only the fact for the approach and the leaving, it is also important between these two situations.

While you are coming closer and closer, do use your arms to defend yourself against upcoming knees, feet or downcoming elbows, until you are in a position when you are very close to him and are still quite save.

The Dance

Then the Dance begins. If you have the passive part, you follow your partner. Be alert, he might set up a trap. If he sees that you are alert, he might refrain from trapping you. You will feel the tension in yourself, and if your partner is good, he will seem not to be tensed at all!

Getting out

And the end of the Chamada, the person who called will show the Way. He will point to the direction in which the game should continue. You are not obliged to go that way, because it might be a trap, too. But most people still follow the game, of course being alert (again).

Which types of Chamadas are there?

When I think about it, I might know something like 6 or 7 types of Chamada. I know there are much more, but I think I know the most common ones. Describing them is impossible. I will just post links to different types of Chamadas. But while watching these videos, do mind that there are the little subtleties which are very important for the Chamada. When you go into the Chamada, you usually know and think about the exact position of your hands, your feet and your head – and the position of the same of your partner. Especially if you are the one who has been called AND if the one who called you is a Mestre!

Videos

The first video does show a teaching session, showing one of the classic Chamadas. Mind that the way this guy teaches this is not reaaaally the nicest. A Chamada has much more of a dancelike and ritualistic appearance than just five steps forward and back, and showing to the ground. The second video, which is displaying three Chamada situations, is much nicer (at least for an Angoleiro ;) ). It does show two other common types of Chamada (the one where the Caller turns his back to the called person and the one where the called person has to bow down and is in close proximity and in the ideal position for a knee hit). The video does also show that not only the person calling can attack. Both persons are in danger of getting a take down or a serious hit. The third video I found about this is really nice, cause it shows Mestre Joao Grande in action. In this video you see the 4 most common types of Chamada. But there is also another lesson to learn from this game. At 2 minutes 30 you see that he lifts his hands into the air, calling the other player into the Chamada. What the other player was supposed to do is also lift both his hands, which is of course quite a danger. And Mestre Joao Grande does directly show why, because then you are vulnerable to a Cabecada. Much more interesting for us here is that the Mestre called the other player, let him approach, and directly attacked him, thus stopping the Chamada ritual and continue playing “normal”. A Chamada doesnt have to end in the normal ritualistic way. It can end at any given time with an attack.

More information?

Is there more you know about the Chamada? Other things I forgot to tell cause I got lost in this huge bulk of text (hey, I’m not a professional writer!)? Is there anything I could learn about the Chamada and you could tell me? Please do! It’s kind of sad that there is so little information online to be found about the Chamada. And if some of you did find good information, Just post the link! That would be great!

I hope this post did help you understand a bit about the Chamada. I know that it is also pretty undetailed information and that it does not really go into the philosophy of the Chamada (and there is most definitely a huge bulk of philosophy behind it), but hey, at least I set a beginning with this post, right?

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11 Comments

Filed under The Game

11 responses to “A Chamada – the Game in the Game

  1. This is a GREAT post! Thank you very much. I’ve always wanted to know more about the Chamada, but I’ve never had a chance to learn.

    One thing I’d like to know… How do you know what to do when the other person initiates the Chamada? I mean, if you’re not familiar with all the types. Is there any kind of general answer that the called person can give if he doesn’t know the Chamada?

    The last thing I would want is to be in an angola game (I’ve never been in a real angola game, but I’d love to learn more) and mess everything up because I didn’t know what to do.

    - Faisca

  2. Hey Angoleiro, have you ever read Learning Capoeira, by Greg Downey? (It’s not a technique book btw…it’s an anthropological study of the experience of learning capoeira.) Downey was an angoleiro as well, and he writes almost a whole chapter on the chamada. You should check it out if you want more information, and I’d also be curious to know what you think of how he depicts all the different aspects of capoeira angola.

    Hope you’re doing well!

  3. angoleiro

    hi faisca, hi joaninha, thanks for your comments. faisca, it is quite normal that once in a while somebody doesnt know what to do at a certain chamada. When you don’t know a specific chamada you can always try to transform the situation into a chamada you like more. e.g. if you don’t want to approach the person from the front but from his backside you can just move around him and try the “Chamada from the Back”. Here it is very important to be in a kind of non-verbal communication with the other player, so both people do know what is happening. So you see, if you are called you should answer to the Chamada, but the way you do it is not at all set.
    Joaninha, thanks for your advice. Actually, Greg Downey’s book is on my to buy-list. The excerpts I read till now seemed to be very nice. So I am looking forward to it.

  4. Pingback: What Is The Chamada In Capoeira Angola? « The Capoeira Blog

  5. Pingback: Jogo de Dentre, Jogo de Fora - the Beauty of an Angola Game « Angoleiro’s Blog

  6. Ramsey

    Yes.. nicely put all this info on Chamadas..

    If i may i’d like to add a comment..

    As was pointed out to me back in the day…

    “Please don’t be touching me with your hands” …after watching the regional guy giving instructions in the first video…
    “touch leg, touch leg” .. “touch my elbow if you want to”

    …in my opinion there is no reason what so ever touch me (with the palms of your hands anyway..) i believe the body should be positioned in such a way where the elbow is of no concern..
    like the guy said “watch out for the elbow” .. he was miles away so therefore no need to touch. for me it’s all a part of showing that extra bit of style (very important) and respect to your partner.

    I believe the point there is just to make sure you got the guys danger points covered.. not pointing out to every one how to dirty a mans’ trousers .. tee hee

    anyway if one feels that it is absolutely necessary to touch then please use the back side of the hand .

    Once again all in my opinion..

    Great site you have and will continue to browse through, thanks again for all your time and effort, appreciated

  7. Ramsey

    oh, maybe that’s why i should look around before posting …

    While i was limiting my self to the Chamada seems like you basicly said it all in your “can’t touch this article..”

    ..and yes i agree it is very annoying..

    Thanks & appreciation
    /R

  8. Ola Ramsey, thanks for commenting. I was away for a while, that’s why I didnt respond very fast. Anyway, you are absolutely right. If absolutely necessary touch the other person with the backside of your hands, or barely with your fingertips. It’s not about pushing down his knee or elbow or head, more about showing “hey,I know what can come out of this one!”

    cheers

  9. Ramsey

    Man i just thought you need to see this …
    The guy in the white Mestre Roberval, the other C.M Gato Preto ..
    Caporeira Angola yes indeed.. would be really interested in your comments …

    Sorry if this is not the place for such things but i feel you might like it

    Thanks & Appreciation for your time.
    /Ramsey

  10. Hey Ramsey, thanks for that link. It’s a really nice game you can see there and both players are of high level. Although I havent met CM Gato Preto yet I guess he is one of those names which might become big in future, so keep him in your eyes. As you posted your comment under the Chamada topic I guess you wanted to refer to the second chamada, where Mestre Roberval did set up a trap for CM Gato Preto. That’s what I meant with Chamadas being very dangerous situations. As harmless as they seem, when you dont get into it concentrated, one of those traps might get you.

    Nice video and too bad I was not there myself!

    cheers

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