Capoeira is played in a circle, named roda . The struggles within the roda are a microcosm and symbolic of the struggle for freedom, dignity and peace that take place in the outer circle of life. The game is played by two players at a time who begin kneeling on the ground in front of the berimbaus, which area is called pé da cruz or pé do berimbau which means foot of the cross or foot of the berimbau.
The first song is a ladainha which means litany. After the ladainha a corrido , type of song, begins and then the two players shake hands and with various movements enter the roda.
A number of kicks, sweeps, and other attack and escape movements are then executed by the players who are as concerned about having a harmonious, beautiful exchange and communication as they are with kicking the other person or rendering them defenseless.
“At a seminar with Mestre João Cascau of the Senzala Academy of Santos, it was pointed out that from its origins, capoeira was not a vehicle of violence amongst its practitioners.
There would have been no benefit to slaves killing and injuring each other when they faced a violent and ruthless oppressor, the armed foremen and bush-captains who kept order for the plantation owners of Brazil. The kicks, foot sweeps and head butts of
capoeira undoubtedly can and have been used in mortal combat, and surely were when the opponent was a potentially deadly enemy, but amongst the comrades, the “Jogo de Capoeira”, the game of capoeira, even though it may have been a tight game, a close game and a hard game, was a game to play and enjoy for its beauty, not for blood.
“Today, we do not use the kicks, foot sweeps and head butts as acts of violence, but as parts of the game. We are a family, we are friends, we play capoeira, and we don’t fight it.“