This topic is roaming my mind since a couple of weeks. I’ll tell you the story behind it. In one of the groups I am training in we have this really promising guy, who is just a beginner yet, but crazy as hell when he gets into the Roda. He has not developed a nice way of playing whatsoever and most of his movements are highly inefficient and clumsy. Still, for his level he is very good and I will keep an eye on him, cause once he starts using his brain in the Game he will get pretty nasty. The only thing annoying about him is his Jack Russel-attitude. He tends to grab and tackle while he is falling. If you are cornering him he uses every possible body part to get out of there. If you sweep him off his feet, he might hug your feet while falling. If you kick him away, you can be pretty sure that he will be back in a fraction of a second. All this is good in a fight on the street, but if you are in the roda you do want to have a nice game, not an anything goes as long as I am not lying on the floor. And I as an Angoleiro do not like being touched by the other’s hands at all…
I am not the teacher of the group and so I thought I wont do something about this in the Roda. Outside of the Roda I told him a couple of times that at some point in his life he will encounter a not-so-nice person in the roda and he will get the crap kicked out of him (happened to a lot of people, including me). Well, he can’t manage it and next time we went into a game he was already going berserk in there. In that situation I forgot about all the good will I had and I forgot about him being a friend of mine. I just waited for his next Armada. So I made my evading moves, some Aús and smiled at him, nodding at him ‘how good the last movement was’. And the next time he went into an Armada I did a rough Rasteira putting him to the ground in a second. Afterwards I felt sorry and also got an advice from the teacher that I should take care what I am doing with beginners. He was right. I just lost my control.
All of you have played in the Roda da Capoeira. It does not matter if it is a roda of modern capoeira or of traditional forms of capoeira. And yes, there are rougher games, or games where you feel teased by the person playing you, or you play a person who is just dominating the whole time and giving you no space whatsoever to develop your game. or games where a beginner just annoys the crap out of you, because he is going mad while you are trying to be nice. And those games are actually the one where you can prove how good you are really.
It is not only about your technique, it’s about self control. And this is a very important part of the Capoeira game. Capoeira does not have set rules although it is a game. It does involve kicks, teasing and tricking another person, so conflict is inherent. The art is to control your emotions. Don’t let them lead your game, because every time a game is loaded with emotions it won’t be a nice game anymore. There are three emotions I can count which should be controlled while you are in the roda: Fear, Anger and Pride.
Do you fear a certain person, because he is bigger, better or more aggressive than you? The best way to get rid of this fear is playing with him. Yes, maybe there is a reason for your fear and maybe you will get exactly the same thing what you already expected, but then at least you know. And even better, you know that you have overcome yourself, you learn to put your fear into some hidden corner of your soul and just go for it. The fear won’t be away, no worries, but you will develop some kind of strategy to get rid of it temporarily. And that’s the best you can have!
Anger is not only a negative force. Anger can lead to astonishing results. Important is to be able to control your anger. If you are angry, first of all your game won’t be that nice anymore. Everybody will feel the energy coming from you. It’s a good energy for your survival in the roda (maybe!) but it’s not a good energy for the roda (exception: if anger and agressivity is what you are asked for in a special roda this sentence doesn’t count). Anger can make you blind, and a smart opponent can use this. He can make you even more angry and wait until your movements are less controlled, harder but less smart. And then he will trap you. I don’t say that you shouldnt use your anger in the game from time to time. Anger does help overcoming a fear (of a special person or movement) and does give you power if you are exhausted.
One of the worst features a Capoeirista can show in the Roda is Pride. Don’t get me wrong, if a Capoeirista is showing off in the Roda, it’s fair enough, a Capoeirista playing the Big Man in the Roda is also very entertaining. But if you start to be proud of your Game you will have a couple of problems just waiting to come up.
1. you are tempted to take training less seriously. You will develop slower or start getting bad (still thinking that you are good).
2. You will start thinking that people are paying you too little respect. Respect is a very important topic in Capoeira, but it’s always mutual. If you think somebody does not show respect to you then the first thing you should think about is, how much respect you did show him.
3. people will start seeing your pride. Pride does not make you a nice buddy. Even if you still have friends they will start waiting for your mistakes, be glad seeing you fall. That is only fair. And if your ego is that big you should be able to stand it. If you don’t like them making jokes about the last rasteira you got, you might think about your attitude…