The game of Capoeira is played, rather than fought, in a roda (pronounced ‘ho-da’), the Portuguese word for a circle. At the foot of the roda stands the bateria, or percussion ensemble, which accompanies the call and response songs sung in Portuguese. The players, called capoeiristas, take turns entering the circle two at a time to engage in a physical dialogue of attack and defense.
Players move according to the rhythm of the berimbau, the main instrument, which directs how fast, slow, expressive, playful, or intense the game will be. Players attack and defend, combining round and straight kicks, ducks, sweeps, take-downs, acrobatics, and dance-like esthetics, all the while maintaining flow and rhythm. Players aim to show the potential harm of movements, exercising control rather than following through. The ultimate goal is to trick or deceive, catching the opponent in a position that he/she cannot get out of.