The game is a reflection of the players
I enter the roda wanting to play elegantly and beautifully — wanting to be in control of myself. If the other person is playing at a level where I don’t feel threatened then I can concentrate on myself, and how the interaction feels. But when the pressure is turned up I concentrate on being in control of the other person. If the other person is playing above my level and I feel threatened then the urge to “fight back” starts to dominate. I start to lose what little control I had over myself in a futile attempt at mastery over the situation.
This has wider implications than just my growth as a capoeirista. The immediate requirements — to try twice as hard to play really well and be in control of myself, and let everything else fall out as it may — are fairly clear. Being more comfortable with my shortcomings and all that.
But there is more than that. This is the roda as a microcosm for life and social interaction. This illustrates how I react when I’m out of my depth. I would rather fake it than be honest about my shortcomings: in the roda I will be slapdash and uncontrolled rather than controlled but underwhelming; in life I would rather remain silent and appear competent than ask questions. I would rather appear angry than incompetent.
A common interview question is to ask about weaknesses. What the real intention behind this question is nobody knows any more. Some people recommend trying to spin a positive to seem like a bad thing (“oh I’m too hard working”) while others say this is too obvious and you should be honest but show how you mitigate this. I suppose we can all agree that admitting to kleptomania or torturing kittens will probably not go in your favour.
What nobody talks about is that spotting your own flaws can be really incredibly difficult. They are hard to spot and harder to admit to yourself as real problems. Just writing the above passages is quite painful, even though in hindsight I always knew this to be true. I can think of countless scenarios where they apply.
I don’t know what I will do in the future with this extra level of self-knowledge.