Chamadas are a feature and a tradition of Capoeira, a game within the game. The literal meaning of the word is: ‘call’. They are mainly used in Capoeira Angola, they aim at inviting the adversary to the caller. It’s a kind of poker strike, a spider web spun in order to catch a prey or to attract it to another web. There are countless reasons for why a chamada may be invoked: a challenge, to recognize a blow that was received, or to calm down the game… A chamada is practiced by all Capoeiristas, i.e. the chamada while entering the roda. By shaking hands with the other player, we accept to enter the game.
What is the Chamada?
Chamada can be translated as “The Call”. It is the situation when the Capoeira Angola game changes it´s pace and one of the players stands in a ritualistic stance, calling the other player to come to him and engage into a ritual-like dance. The Chamada is one of the least understood and least explained parts of a Capoeira Angola game. Yet, a Capoeira Angola Roda without a Chamada would miss a lot of its fascination.
Why do people do the Chamada?
There are about a zillion reasons, why you could start a Chamada. Usually it is one of these reasons:
- You got tired and want to have a breath, the Chamada will give you a couple of seconds of rest, although (as I will explain later) rest does not mean that you can relax…
- The players did not have a compatible game. Sometimes two players have difficulties getting along with each other and do entangle themselves in ugly little trouble. To calm down a situation like this, a Chamada comes in handy.
- One player got hit. If unintentionally, the Chamada will help focus the concentration, if intentionally, the Chamada will help calming down the mood.
- One player wants to test the abilities of the other. Usually a beginner or not-so-advanced player wont see and know all the subtleties of a Chamada. So the Chamada is also a good test, how good and advanced a player really is. There are a lot of youngsters out there who are able to do the fanciest movements or don’t have to be afraid of any opponent, but they get lost in a Chamada.
Are there rules about the Chamada?
Shortly said: there are no real rules about the Chamada. There are actually different ritualistic positions for the Chamada and it is good to know as much of them as possible. As there are many different positions it is good to try to remember every position – and the possible dangers of those. Generally, a Chamada is divided into the Intro, the Dance and the Leaving of the Chamada. All these are ruled by the one who “calls”. He calls the other player, who has to come, he does give the Dance its speed and rhythm, and he does say when the Chamada goes to an end and in which direction the game shall go on.
Oh, I forgot, there is one rule-of-thumb which is just very smart for the average player: do not call the mestre. As I said before, the Chamada is also some kind of test. Some Mestres do have issues with students calling them into the Chamada, and you don’t want to find out the hard way, do you?
The most important thing…
…is that the Chamada is still happening in the Roda. And in the Roda you have the general rule: be aware. Nobody says that the Chamada will end a peaceful way. There is always a possibility that a Tesoura is coming in the middle of the Chamada. And if you approach, be aware, that the knee, the elbow or the head of the caller are always very close. You come into close contact with the other person. You actually do touch the person for a longer time (which is not very common in an Angola game). So every step during the Chamada is dangerous and does call for a high level of attention by the player (so much about relaxing, as I said earlier in this post).
You are playing in the roda. Suddenly your partner does make a couple of steps away from you and lifts both hands, facing you, waiting. You have to approach. There is no rule how you should approach. It is mostly group-specific. Some groups do have the rule that the one who is called can show his acrobactic abilities for a while and then approach. Some teachers do attack you when you do not respond to their Chamada immediately. In most cases it seems to be ok to move on the ground, approaching slowly.
It is always important to be highly attentive when you approach. It is sometimes said that the approach and the leaving of the Chamada are the most dangerous situations. I disagree. As long as you are in close contact to the other player, engaging in the Chamada, attention and alertness are the things you have to rely on. And this is not only the fact for the approach and the leaving, it is also important between these two situations.
While you are coming closer and closer, do use your arms to defend yourself against upcoming knees, feet or downcoming elbows, until you are in a position when you are very close to him and are still quite save.
Then the Dance begins. If you have the passive part, you follow your partner. Be alert, he might set up a trap. If he sees that you are alert, he might refrain from trapping you. You will feel the tension in yourself, and if your partner is good, he will seem not to be tensed at all!
And the end of the Chamada, the person who called will show the Way. He will point to the direction in which the game should continue. You are not obliged to go that way, because it might be a trap, too. But most people still follow the game, of course being alert (again).