Studying videos and emulating others
# Pause-play video clips frames at a time and pay attention.
# Get used to watching tricking clips in full speed. (If you cannot do this and understand what’s happening, you do not understand the technique well enough to try it.)
# Watch a trick from different angles, by different performers and compare everything.
# Download tricking videos.
(Don’t just bookmark uploaded videos, people often remove their content. Save!)
# Create a tricking playlist and plow through it at full speed. Let it overwhelm you.
# Film yourself for feedback and fun.
Here is an incomplete, but sufficient list of questions I ask myself when analyzing footage.
- What angle of entry was used? Was the path straight or crooked?
- Is the trick taking of one foot at a time or both feet together? What if you changed that?
- If it’s a two footed (pop) takeoff is it punched or staggered? (spin kicks, double legs)
- What angle/direction is each foot planted on takeoff?
- How close are the feet on takeoff?
- Are the feet out in front of the body before take off?
- What is the body position during the setup?
- Where is the buttocks in relation to the chest at takeoff? During the trick?
- Is blocking performed? Why is there a block? What if no blocking was done on this trick?
- How much distance is actually covered by this trick?
- How much distance is covered by this trick in relation to the distance covered during the entry?
- Where are you/they looking during the trick?
- Backward, forward, over the shoulder? Spotting a target?
- If there is a neck turn when does it happen?
- If one leg comes up first, which one is it?
- If one leg comes up before the other, is the first leg coming up bent or straight?
- If there is a trailing leg, is it bent or straight?
- If the leg is bent, does it ever straighten? If it is straight, does it ever bend?
- What path / angle is each individual leg taking? What allows it to take that path?
- Are the legs pumped? Do they stay straight? Do they cross?
- Do the legs ever snap together?
- What does the body look like when the first leg leaves the ground? (cheat setup kicks)
- What angle is the pelvis tilted? (cheat setup kicks)
- Are the toes pointed during the trick? Does that make it look better?
- How long is the foot-ground contact time? Is the trickster heavy footed or light footed?
- Shoulders turning how? When? What angle?
- What is the position of the arms and shoulders during each point of the trick?
- The arms’ actions? Coiling high? Elbowing? Hook punching for a spin? Extended or bent?
- The arms’ path? Where are they going?
- If it’s a twist, are the arms actually creating the twist?
- Or are they just following the hips and/or neck?
- Do the arms wrap during the trick? Where, when, how?
- Can hands be allowed ground contact in this trick?
- What the hell are the arms actually doing in this trick?
- Inverted or not? What inverts the trick if it’s inverted? How could you un-invert it?
- Does the trick have a stall before the twist or turn?
- What if there was too much or too little stall?
- If there is a twist or turn, is it early or late?
- Where is the chest facing before the trick and after? [Front? / Back? / Sky? / Ground?]
- Does the chest rise before the first leg? (b-twist)
- Hollow body position or is the back arched (chest open) ?
- Where is the center of gravity during the spin? High or low?
- Body lowering down or staying high? At what rate? (aerial tricks)
- If it’s a tucked trick, is the tucking behind the knees or in front? (Back tucks)
- When looking at the trick as a whole, what does the synergy remind you of?
- When paying attention to only one of the limbs during the trick, what does it look like?
- Is the chest up on landing or low? What happened during the trick to cause this?
- How does the technique finish? Where and how is the body positioned?
- What could have made the trick look even better?
Now go back and ask Why for each of the answers you came up with for any of these questions.
# Turn up the volume on a tricking clip, listen closely to the rhythm, plod of feet. Emulate it.
# Determine if what you are trying to emulate can be done in the conditions you are working in.
(A fulltwist done on a trampoline is different than one done on a plyometric floor is different than one done on grass is different than one done on lava is different than one done in space.)
# Don’t play Dr. Frankenstein when initially learning from examples.
For example, almost everytime you see someone do a ch.900 double they always do a spin hook kick before it. You might go so far as to say that a ch.900 double done without the hook kick and one with the hook kick are two different tricks!
Another example, wushu guys use a stomp setup in their b-twists which most tricksters don’t use. So it’s not a good idea to emulate their b-twist unless you’re using that same stomp setup.
# See if a trickster does the same trick twice in a sampler and compare.
(Again, note habits, tendencies, idiosyncrasies, similarities, etc.)
# Compare a good looking trick with an uglier looking one!
(Noticing common mistakes is insightful.)
# Preferably emulate those people who have a similar body type to you.
(Emulating a hyperhook done by a 5″4, 130 pound dude is probably not going to help you too much if you’re 6″0 and 180 pounds. Different body types = different leveraging characteristics = different techniques.)
Trivia: Logan is an oldschool trickster and one of my personal heroes. Youtube him sometime.
# Be weary of emulating your past peaks!
Story time. My best 540 kicks in 2004 have haunted me for years. But I have to take into account I was doing them that way when a) I was training 540s all the time because I wasn’t distracted by all the new crap people are doing these days. b) I wasn’t actually done growing haha. I was 170 pounds, 19 years old and had not started strength training much. So how could I possibly emulate my old 540 when I’m now shaped differently? I cannot! I changed the biological context! Me in 2004 is not me in 2010. It’s a bit like watching a different trickster.
# Know the trickster’s history.
I’ve made the following mistake:
This guy (Mogwai) is almost exactly my size and proportions and he’s doing this trick outside. There should be no reason why I can’t do what he’s doing. – But there is a reason, he’s been doing fulltwist stuff the past 8 years and I have not. There is no reason why I can’t do what he’s doing if I changed the way I trained today and continued on that path for years.
Right and wrong / Good and bad
# Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it’s right.
I think my hypertwists look pretty good. See the video below:
Unfortunately my hypertwist would be “wrong” as a prerequisite for a 720 twist. It’s wrong for so many reasons I don’t even care to begin to explain. But just because it’s wrong as a prerequisite doesn’t mean it looks bad. I think it looks great! It’s right in itself, and only wrong as a prerequisite for another specific trick.
(Conversely, something can be correct for a certain reason but ugly in itself.)
Tips for reading tutorials
# Be skeptic, but not stubborn.
(Give advice an honest trial, but don’t settle. Ever. Be an endless experimenter!)
# Try again later.
There are tips for tricks I could not use until several years after I had given them an initial trial. Then I’d look back and go
Yeah! He was right after all, it works now! Holy crap this is great!
# Stop looking for “the best” way to get better at tricking, or “the best” way to do a trick.
There are many ways to make a trick work for you and many ways to get where you want to be as a trickster. Stop looking for the secret of the pros or whatever magical tip you think you missed. Just have fun borrowing ideas and mixing them up with your own.