Reactivity vs Responsibility

There are many articles on the web comparing words “reactivity” and “responsibility”. But let’s view it in a capoeira context. As you know, the roda of capoeira is a great analogy for life.

“Responsibility is the ability to respond”

Lucille Ball

The difference between “to react” and “to respond” lies in the nature and timing of the action, as well as the level of thought or intention involved. Reacting tends to be more immediate, instinctive, and emotionally driven, while responding is typically more deliberate, thoughtful, and intentional.

For example, a new capoeira student, when he goes for the first time to the roda1, he is not “responding”, he is reacting. When he comes out of the game, he doesn’t even know what he did. Like a wild animal. A capoeira game for a beginner is very primal. It brings out the animal, and the animal reacts. Only human beings can respond. The bird cannot decide whether to fly East or West. It can fly only to the South in the winter.

When a beginner gets a martelo2, he reacts: fear, anger, insult. But once he becomes a better player, he starts to respond: ‘Woohoo, martelo, interesting! How can I respond?’

In the capoeira game, we have to learn we have to learn responsibility. Beginning with a sense of responsibility within the circle and gradually extending it to life in general. It’s like the practice of meditation: starting with awareness of your breath and gradually expanding that awareness to encompass your entire life.

Further reading

1. Roda – a circle where capoeira is played.
2. Martelo (hammer) – a type of a straight kick, that usually targets the head of the opponent with the top of the foot.