Capoeira – a real life game


I have been traveling these past months and I can’t say that it has not inspired me in many ways. Russia was a great country and before I even noticed I made some achievement icons for RhubberMan that kinda contained that red Soviet feel ­čÖé

But my latest trip to Serbia took my inspiration for a spin like never before. I was on a big Capoeira event where almost all of the most famous Masters held classes for students from all over the world. I have been training for 5 years and the feeling is still the same as the first day I tried it. JUST GRAND!

But as I mentioned in a previous article┬áonce you have the Eyes of game design you see everything as a game. Capoeira is easy to be regarded in this manner because this is exactly what it is – A GAME. It is a cultural phenomenon, a martial art that can really help with self-defense, a big spiritual boost, a healthy life philosophy and much more…

For me Capoeira means a lot, but on my blog I would like to focus on game-design and will try to describe Capoeira as a game:

Capoeira is a real-life┬ámultiplayer┬ágame played by minimum of 2 players but it is usually played by more than ten people. Everything starts and ends with and within the circle called the “roda”. It is a circle formed by people who are waiting to enter the game (to go inside the circle) and people who are playing various instruments.

A top down view would look like this (gta 1 style):


Rules are everywhere. The play zone itself is formed out of players, so it is easy to make the zone smaller or bigger. The diameter of the circle is directly connected with the difficulty of the game. If it is extra small, that’s ULTRA HARD difficulty, while when it is large, the game is in easy mode. Players that are playing are guided by the music played by the band called “Bateria”. The type of the beat and the tempo directly dictates the speed and type of movements they use in the game.

Here is an example of the most basic beat:

Movements are split into escapes and attacks. One attacks, the other escapes then attacks and so on. Accompanied by acrobatics and smooth circle shaped movements, Capoeira is fun┬áto watch almost as much as it is to actually play. All movements require speed, strength, endurance and stamina (RPG elements ­čśŤ ) and players get tired quickly(especially level 1 players).

This is why players switch often. A rested player who was forming the circle (on cool-down) by standing (while at the same time clapping and singing the song currently played) goes into┬áthe “entrance” zone (see photo above), kneels and waits an approval from the leader of the band. Once the approval is given┬áhe/she enters and plays with the more rested player inside the circle. The other player who is taken out of the game quickly goes to the “exit” zone, catches his breath, stands still and instantly starts singing and clapping. As new rested players go in the “entrance” zone, tired players go to the exit zone and thus the circle moves flawlessly from both sides. Everyone will play, everyone will rest, players will mix so that everyone plays against everyone.

It is a simple yet brilliantly made game system which evolved through the course of around 300 years.

As with many games, Capoeira also has many secrets for those who know where to look. More experienced players already have the skill “fluent in Portuguese” which enables them to understand every song and decipher the story behind it and the metaphor it represents. For example through a certain song a Master can secretly notify his student of a certain change in the game, warn him of a dangerous opponent or tell him to go easy. Another skill that is developed through continuous game sessions is the ability to always be aware of your surroundings. In this game, multitasking is key! Players must be aware of everyone’s attitude while standing in the circle, they should also clap and sing at the same time, follow the game of the players inside the circle, follow the songs, move a bit when the circle moves, watch their breathing, be ready to go in and to go out and lots of other things ALL at the same time.

Therefore, Capoeira is a big game with a lot of mini games which offer tons of variety and make every session feel fresh and different – there’s just sooo much to learn. One class you’ll learn to play on an instrument, on another you will learn your first direct hit, another time you will only sing.

The only game element which is not present in Capoeira is safety. Usually games keep players safe. Whatever happens in the game doesn’t apply in real life. Being a real life game, Capoeira influences all aspects of one’s life, if you make a mistake, you will be hit, if you don’t sing with real emotion the lack of energy will be felt and other players won’t get buffed by you. So please do not regard Capoeira as a versus fighting game. It is a cooperative game which teaches about team spirit, friendship, happiness, compassion, hardships and overcoming problems.

It is a game everyone should try.

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Play this game:

And no matter where you are in the world, ask for the group called Senzala. There you will learn to play the game! -Capoeira in Serbia -Capoeira in Serbia for Kids