Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Jogo de Dentro, Jogo de Fora, Jogo Bonito é o Jogo de Angola

("Inside Game, Outside Game, the Game of Angola is a Beautiful Game")

Toquinha (in white) and Instrutore Sapo at the 2005 Batizado, Vancouver BC

Okay, so this is anything BUT a close game, and most of it consists of me pulling out as many floreios (acrobatic movements) as possible, doing (not including basic kicks) mortal (backflip), au malandro (one-handed L-kick), au sem mao (aerial / no-hand cartwheel) and sacha rolha (spinning handstand, literally, "corkscrew"). During the whole thing, I'm maintaining a large distance, almost pulling out kicks for their own sake. But, I start playing closer, right before I appear to take a shot to the face, further underscoring the importance of keeping one's guard up.

This is where we start emphasizing the importance of jogo de dentro, or inside game. It's quite counterintuitive, as instinctively, one would want to keep their distance from their opponent in any sort of combat situation. But, on a physics standpoint, in many respects, it's actually safer to stand closer to the opponent. This is akin to cracking a whip. The arm itself is harmless, yet the end of the whip is what breaks the skin.

Jogo de dentro is one of the more challenging aspects of Capoeira to master and understand, but is important, not only for safety, but for the development of one's game. Even though it is essentially a conversation in movement, there is a huge temptation to pull out one's tricks and attempt to plan combinations, especially with novice students. I still remember my first Batizado, where I attempted to do a combination of quixada (circular kick from forward leg), armada de costa (spinning circular kick from back leg), and au malandro. I was on the floor before I was able to finish the second kick.

At four feet away, sure, there's a really good chance that the opponent will never connect. But, why do it? There is no motivation to dodge, escape, or even respond with an appropriate movement. There is no growth, no evolution, and nothing learned. A student instructor referred to it as trying to talk about Capoeira, when the other person starts talking about hockey.

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