How to Jacknife

October 29, 2012 Training

The jacknife is a 540 kick that finishes with a hook kick using the non-landing leg.

How to Jacknife video:

Suggestion 1: Turn your 540 kick into a 540 gyro

If you just got your 540 kick, drill it for a year until it’s a 540 gyro, which is just a 540 kick with major air time and bonus spin at the end. Don’t bother working with the jacknife until you do that. Because if your 540 sucks, so will your jacknife, and you don’t want a sucky jacknife. Nothing can make a poor 540 kick a worthy jacknife.

Suggestion 2: Use Brute Force!

When you finally begin working on the jacknife, do not hesitate: your sheer determination to get the second kick out and get it out strong should never be jeopardized by uncertainty or confusion regarding the technique. Do not allow yourself to think there is an easier way to jacknife and you’re making things harder for yourself. Don’t try to out-technique the technique of the jacknife. Don’t listen to technique snobs who want to paralyze you with jacknife technical calculus. It’s not calculus, you’re just throwing a hook kick after a 540 kick before landing.

So yeah, I really believe this trick responds well to brute force and sheer determination. (Actually, most tricks respond very well to these things). So just force it. For once in your tricking life, if you haven’t already, just do dozens and dozens of repetitions every session like a dumb ox. Your jacknife will flourish if you’ve already mastered your 540 gyro, I assure you.

Suggestion 3: Use progressive skills

Even if you have an excellent 540 kick, your jacknife will respond well to practicing these variations, if you practice them using brute force. Work up a sweat. Put some heart into it:

  • Tornado kick
  • 540 kick
  • 540 kick with a hook kick after landing
  • Round kick – Hook kick combo
  • Step over hook kick

Suggestion 4: Use the 540 hook (ch. 720 kick)

Throw in some jacknife reps that are more like the 540 hook (ch. 720 kick). This means focusing more on the second kick, rather than the first. In fact, don’t worry about the first kick in the jacknife, just knee it over and crank out the second kick. Then try “un-knee’ing” your knee by… keeping your leg straight. And then you have a jacknife.

Suggestion 5: Cheat the setup (more)

Jujimufu, jacknife, eye target

Did you know I cheat my jacknives? It’s true. I’m a cheater! Here’s how to do it. I orient myself directly in front of my camera or audience. In this case, I’m orienting myself in front of disc golf hole #17. But I’m not going to jacknife in that direction.

I pick a target slightly to the left since I’m kicking with my right leg first. So I kick in that direction. Approximately 10-20 degrees to the side of the audience. Nobody knows I cheat all of my jacknives a few degrees. I did this in every single repetition in the video embedded above and you had no idea did you? Try it yourself.

How to Jacknife step by step:

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Alright so setup like you would a 540 kick.

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I use the step through setup. Use what you prefer.

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This is all pretty much just like the 540 kick.

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Using arm swing.

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Digging down.

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Okay, as usual, notice the direction my right foot is pointing. See how I turned it all the way around?

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At this point in the trick we decide to make this a jacknife. Start thinking about turning around again and hooking already.

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Keep your feet pointed like mine. Also, watch my arms.

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I’ve already aborted the first kick. At this point it’s just going to slow and becoming a landing leg. I’m already focusing on the second kick here. Look at my right arm how it hooks across my body.

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It can be helpful to think of the jacknife as having the feeling of a fluid spin. Don’t stop in the middle of the trick, even if it looks like I’m doing this I’m trying to keep the spin flowing.

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In the jacknife, if you notice me or anyone else looking like they’re nose diving backwards in the middle of the trick, this isn’t intentional: It’s just a consequence of having the hips high before a spin hook kick. Don’t consciously do this, it will happen automatically.

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Now it’s hard to notice, but notice how in the jacknife a little bit of distance is covered to the side. You NEED that in the jacknife. That’s part of the reason my “cheat” described above is effective: it facilitates that critically important side-2-side coverage.

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Boom. Focusing entirely on the second kick.

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And it’s important to try to sweep the kick all the way across. Many good jacknives turn bad because the trickster forgets to do this. Pull it all the way across.

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All the way.

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I look like I’m about to vomit.

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I look like I need vomited on.

Jacknife review:

  • Master the 540 kick by turning it into a 540 gyro.
  • Force it, don’t let technical ambiguity cloud your will.
  • Repetition will make you king.
  • When orienting yourself toward your camera or audience, kick a bit to the side.
  • Try focusing on the second kick, not the first.
  • Cover some side to side distance, don’t keep it all in one spot.
  • Don’t stop on the first kick, keep the spin flowing the whole time.
  • Point your toes.

My experience with the Jacknife:

I’ve struggled with this trick. Since I had such a strong 540 kick I thought that the jacknife should be a given. I also thought, if the jacknife wasn’t working for me in any given session after just a few reps, then my technique was at fault. I thought there would be an easy, perfect way to do it and I just wasn’t braining it right. I even blamed my body type at some point, I thought I wasn’t built for jacknife’ing.

Then years down the road my buddy, Pat Chu, just told me to stop thinking about it and drill it, and focus only on the second kick. So I did, I just kept cranking out the repetitions and within just a few sessions my jacknife had arrived!

2 comments

  1. Shangum says:

    Only thought I would hear Callenish Circle coming out of my stereo…

    Great tips thanks!

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