In Brazil, each day can be an adventure and it’s important to remain flexible in order to best approach or react to what might come your way. In Brazilian Portuguese, there’s a phrase for referring to such ease of movement, or wiggle-room, as it were, and it’s called “jogo de cintura”.
Someone who possesses this can face the unexpected rather easily, they can find their way through otherwise difficult situations and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Jogo, in this case, means game or play and cintura is waist, and thus you can think of it as a way of manuevering through something, of not being rigid.
The phrase is usually used with the verb ter, so you might hear:
- “Tem que ter jogo de cintura para enfrentar uma situação assim.”
= You have to be flexible to face a situation like that.
You can also use it figuratively, such as:
- “No segundo mandato, o jogo de cintura político foi fundamental.”
= In the second term, political flexibility was fundamental.
After having spent 3 years in Brazil, I’m not sure if I attained “jogo de cintura” because my gut feeling is that it’s connected to the moment in which you find yourself rather than having flexibility in the planning stage of something, for example. If it meant the latter, I’d have it in excess. In accordance with its meaning, it’s more connected to successful quick thinking and rolling with the punches.
Brazilian singer Elba Ramalho has a song named Jogo de Cintura. In this song she says that in life you often need to have jogo de cintura in order to be happy and have love.
What about you? Do you have jogo de cintura? Do you agree with Elba Ramalho?
Street Smart Brazil offers one-on-one and group classes online via webcam. We have a fantastic team of tutors, exclusive class materials, and complete programs from absolute beginner to fluent. See what our customers are saying.