Tips to teach yourself tricking

December 28, 2010 Training

Studying videos and emulating others

# Pause-play video clips frames at a time and pay attention.

Jujimufu, tornado, aerial

# 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.

# Observe.

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.)

Logan, Anthony Atkins, tricking

Logan: Anthony Atkins is half a foot shorter than me.

Logan, Anthony Atkins, tricking

Logan: So I will kill him.

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!)

Pyrrho bust

Pyrrho would have most likely been an excellent reader of tricking tutorials

# 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!

8 ball

Reply hazy, try again later.

# 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.

Gaston, Beauty and the Beast

This is a very appropriate place in this write up for this picture.

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