The “roda” (pronounced: ho-dah) is a circle of participants who clap, sing, and take turns playing Capoeira in the center. The capoeira game is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, subterfuge, and extensive use of groundwork, as well as kicks, sweeps, and take downs. Technique, strategy, and timing are the key elements to playing a good game.
The lead berimbau player sets the tone and the speed of the roda with the music. To begin playing a game, two players kneel at the foot of the lead berimbau, shake hands, and do a cartwheel to enter into the roda. Either one of the players can end the game by shaking hands and backing out of the middle of the roda.
Alternatively, if the lead berimbau player allows, another Capoeirista can enter the roda to play with one of the participants while the other steps back to join the circle of singers. This is called “buying the game,” translated in Portuguese as “comprar o jogo.” Play in the roda can continue by buying out the Capoeirista who has been playing longer, however, lower cords should not buy out instructors or mestres.
The best way to understand all the intricacies and nuances is to observe and ask questions. The roda builds awareness of both mind and body while the etiquette ensures a roda has good energy and is safe for all participants. This is the foundation for the fluid and graceful physical dialogue that materializes. The result is an organic blend of energy that is Capoeira.