Dinga Bakaba is the game director of Deathloop, Arkane’s brilliant, breakthrough FPS. He’s a veteran of the Dishonored series, going back 11 years. But most importantly for our purposes, he’s a martial arts teacher on the side. Specifically, Bakaba teaches capoeira.
“People sometimes wonder, is it a dance, is it a fight,” he says. “But we say, ‘a game of capoeira,’ and the act is playing.” The boundaries of capoeira are intentionally blurred – it was first invented by African slaves in Brazil, as a way to practice fight moves under the cover of dancing and music. You might know it by the distinctive moveset of Tekken’s Eddy Gordo, the human rotor whose unpredictable leg spins end with a foot to the face.
It’s often less combative than that, though: in the courses Bakaba runs, capoeira partners tend to look more like lovers than fighters. Moves are mirrored, legs soar over heads, and despite the proximity, the hits never quite connect. It’s mesmerising.
“When I arrived at my first capoeira class, they said it’s a game,” Bakaba says. “I asked them, ‘What are the rules?’ And they looked at me like, ‘That’s for you to figure out.’”
Capoeira can be combat; it can be strategy; it can be exhibition. But brilliantly, the nature of the game isn’t determined beforehand. Instead it’s communicated wordlessly between the players.
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