Jogo de Dentre, Jogo de Fora – the Beauty of an Angola Game

This topic is quite difficult to handle, because it is about things which are hard to explain or to grasp rationally. It is about beauty. You hear a lot of people say that this or that game in a Capoeira Roda was expecially cool, exciting or beautiful. And we should all know that when you are playing in the Roda yourself, your aim is not (only) to defeat your partner or to show your dominance, but much more to display a beautiful game.

I will for now concentrate on one part of the beauty of an Angola game: Jogo de Dentre and Jogo de Fora.

These two words should be familiar to most of you people, because there is actually a really nice and much known song about it, going like this:

“Jogo de Dentre, Jogo de Fora, jogo bonito é Jogo de Angola”… and so on.

So what are these two games? Roughly translated they are “the Inside Game” and “the Outside Game”. The easiest explanation is that in a Jogo de Dentre you are very close to your parter. And I mean very close. Actually you can smell the other person, do maybe feel his breathe and you are usually in the reach of a couple of inches. A head-butt is an alltime possibility in such a game. And the Jogo de Fora is the Game when you are in a distance to your partner. Still in a distance where you can hit the person (as in Capoeira Angola you have to be close to your partner), but also in a distance, where just a slight step backwards or to the side does save you from a kick.

There are other general differences (although they sometimes only partially apply):

The Jogo de Dentre is usually played in a low position, with a lot of Queda de Rins, Tesouras, Au de Cabeça (Cartwheel with your head on the ground), Rabo de Arraias, Cabeçadas, Negativas de Angola (that’s basically being flat on the ground…) and so on. It is also usually played in a slower speed, but can rapidly change its speed. So don’t rely on it. The Jogo de Dentre is also considered a more complicated and harder game than the Jogo de Fora.

The Jogo de Fora is a Game where the players are more upright. Meia Luas, Martellos, Esquivas and things alike are more likely to happen here. Basically it is the kind of game which is much more compatible with modern variants of Capoeira. it is also likely to be played to a faster rhythm.

But the true beauty of the Capoeira Game does not come from the different parts, from the Jogo de Dentre and the Jogo de Fora, and all the other things related to Capoeira Angola, like the Chamada, the music, the ladainhas, the rituals and so on. It is the dynamic change between these parts. Especially the dynamics between Jogo de Dentre and Jogo de Fora. A game which does consist of only one of these types of games is usually not existing. Jogo de Dentre is a hard game and really nice to see, but it is also exhausting. A Jogo de Fora is maybe fast, but easy – you always have the possibility to escape. On the other side it is technically not very complicated.

So a beautiful Angola Game does (for example) begin with the two players entangling in a Jogo de Dentre, slowly checking the limits of the other person. Seeing how the other is responding, creating the space between you and your fellow Capoeirista. After a while the room the two Angoleiros have achieved will grow, until there is actually space between them, space for some far-reaching kicks and some fast escapes. In this game for space at some point the other person will get closer, maybe hoping to trap the other one, maybe because he is smaller and is not able to handle the other person. And suddenly the room shrinks again, leading to a Jogo de Dentre. And sometimes in between, all this is given up and a Chamada takes place.

The dynamics between Jogo de Dentre and Jogo de Fora can be imagined like an invisible elastic band between the two players. Once in a while it gets stretched because the two players are far from each other. But this will automatically lead to the players getting closer to each other again. Until the tension of the band is so little that they can create room between each other once again… and so on.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Jogo de Dentre, Jogo de Fora – the Beauty of an Angola Game

  1. That is a GREAT observation. I often say the same thing about speed in capoeira angola when people describe it as the “slow” style – whereas the real difference is more that capoeira angola is played at a huge variety of speeds (slow game, fast game, a sudden slow movement within a fast game, a sudden fast movement within a slow game, and everything in between… pauses, theatrical moments, crazy lightning-fast moments, etc.) whereas capoeira regional/contemporânea tends to be played at a more uniform speed throughout the game.

    The variety is one of the things I love about capoeira angola. There’s a time to do a low, smooth aú de cabeça where your feet just barely leave the floor. There’s a time to do a flying back handspring to launch yourself across the roda in an attack. There’s a time for a friendly rabo-de-arraia, and for a vicious martelo (and vice-versa). And there is plenty of room for expression – which leads me right to your next post!

  2. angoleiro

    Hoi Shayna, you´re back again. Welcome!🙂 I must agree with you. The variation does not only come in the “forms of the play”, but also in its speed, it’s potential to be dangerous and so on. And most of it comes down to one thing: you have time to express yourself in the Roda (compared to the couple of seconds you have in some modern Capoeira Rodas) and space for doing it (in a Roda of modern Capoeira I will usually try not to make a slow and nice Rabo de Arraia, because I cannot expect that the other person reacts sensible).

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