The post below explores the dynamic world of tricking, a captivating fusion of acrobatics, martial arts, and dance. In this exploration, we delve into the essence of tricking, uncovering its origins, evolution, and significance as a unique form of physical expression. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a thriving global phenomenon, tricking has captured the imagination of enthusiasts worldwide, offering a platform for creativity, self-expression, and community. Join us as we embark on a journey to understand the intricacies and allure of this exhilarating discipline known as tricking.

What is Tricking?

Tricking is a contemporary form of physical expression characterized by dynamic movements and athleticism. Drawing inspiration from various disciplines such as martial arts, gymnastics, and breakdancing, tricking combines elements like kicks, flips, twists, and ground maneuvers into innovative and visually captivating sequences. It is hailed as the epitome of bodily motion and artistic expression.

Emerging in the 1990s from martial artists seeking to inject more style into their routines, tricking has evolved beyond its roots in “extreme martial arts” to become a distinct and vibrant art form in its own right. Beyond its physical aspects, being a tricker entails belonging to a global community of individuals who share a passion for pushing the boundaries of movement and creating distinctive aerial configurations.

What is Tricking?
What is Tricking?

Who is Tricking for?

Tricking welcomes individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their backgrounds or prior experience. Trickers hail from diverse disciplines such as martial arts, dance, parkour, tumbling, and trampolining, while many embark on their tricking journey with no formal training, relying solely on self-teaching methods. With resources like YouTube tutorials and guidance from fellow practitioners, aspiring trickers find avenues to learn and grow.

In my experience as a tricking instructor spanning over five years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing students of varying ages, levels of flexibility, athleticism, and backgrounds delve into the world of tricking. Despite their differences, they’ve all found success by deconstructing movements into manageable components and progressing safely.

Interestingly, the primary obstacle to mastering tricking often lies not in physical prowess but in mental barriers. Many individuals grapple with self-doubt and apprehension when faced with unfamiliar challenges. However, consistent training and movement gradually alleviate these concerns, fostering confidence and enhancing body awareness.

Feeling apprehensive? That’s perfectly normal. Tricking thrives on the blend of fear and excitement it evokes, drawing enthusiasts to its exhilarating nature. Overcoming fear stems from developing a deeper understanding of one’s body and honing essential skills through foundational drills and prerequisites. Embracing this fear and navigating through the basics serves as the gateway to proficiency in tricking.

For optimal progress, consider training alongside experienced trickers who can offer guidance and support along your journey. Alternatively, teaming up with a fellow aspiring tricker fosters camaraderie, making the learning process more enjoyable and accelerating skill development. After all, community spirit lies at the heart of tricking, enriching the experience and propelling individuals towards new heights of achievement.

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Who is Tricking for?
Who is Tricking for?

Why should we learn Tricking?

Engaging in tricking offers a plethora of advantages, spanning mental, physical, and some might even argue spiritual realms. These benefits include, but are not restricted to:

Looks and feels cool

Undoubtedly, one of the most evident perks of tricking is its inherent coolness factor. The sheer exhilaration of executing and witnessing intricate moves is unparalleled. There’s an unmatched sense of fulfillment when a meticulously practiced maneuver is flawlessly executed, precisely as envisioned. It’s all about the artistry of the performance.

It’s a creative outlet

Each tricker possesses a distinctive flair in their approach to executing maneuvers, selecting which moves to incorporate, and orchestrating seamless combinations.

Builds mobility and flexibility

Engaging in tricking necessitates the development of enhanced mobility and flexibility. Achieving proficiency in executing flips and kicks demands a heightened level of flexibility and coordination. Through consistent training, conditioning, and stretching regimens, your body undergoes gradual improvement, refining its capabilities over time.

Perpetual reward system

One of the exceptional aspects of Tricking lies in its perpetual reward system. It operates on a binary scale, where the outcome is either landing a trick or not. However, when you successfully execute a maneuver, you’re immediately inundated with an unparalleled surge of excitement and jubilation. Consider the backflip, for instance. You progress from practicing the motions to attempting it with assistance and eventually mastering it independently. Initially, you may land on all fours, but there comes a definitive moment when you achieve a clean landing. In the realm of tricking, the pursuit of the next trick is perpetual – there are no limits to skill advancement, ensuring a continuous cycle of challenge and reward.

Mimics growth in all aspects of life

Tricking mirrors the process of growth evident in various facets of life. Similar to any endeavor, it entails setting clear objectives, striving relentlessly to pursue them, and ultimately achieving them. This principle extends beyond the realm of tricking to encompass all aspects of existence. However, having tangible physical manifestations of your goals serves to transform your perspective on self-identity and the realm of attainable accomplishments.

Why should we learn Tricking?
Why should we learn Tricking?

Elements of Tricking

Tricking has transcended its origins of merely “advanced kicking” coupled with “sloppy gymnastics” to emerge as a distinct art form characterized by identifiable components. While acknowledging the subjective nature inherent in each element, tricking can be dissected into the following constituent parts:

Vertical Kicking

Stemming from a fusion of techniques borrowed from various martial arts disciplines such as Taekwondo, Karate, and Capoeira, vertical kicking entails executing kicks along the vertical axis. These kicks are analyzed and categorized based on their takeoff, rotational value, and the type of kick performed. Takeoff denotes the manner in which the trick is initiated (through a pop, cheat, or swing), rotational value quantifies the number of spins executed, and the kick itself refers to the specific kick executed at the conclusion of the maneuver (such as a round kick, hook kick, or its variations).

Tricks on the Inverted Axis

This category encompasses a vast array of trick variations, predominantly characterized by some degree of flipping motion, wherein the hips surpass the head’s position. Such maneuvers unfold across diverse axes, ranging from on-axis flips inherited from Gymnastics & Tumbling techniques to the emergence of off-axis tricks within the sport’s repertoire (like the tak and cork).

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Tricks on the Horizontal Axis

This classification pertains to maneuvers executed along the horizontal axis, predominantly exemplified by moves such as the butterfly kick, spyder, and various janitor variations.

Variations

This term denotes the alterations or adaptations applied to the foundational move. For instance, a back full can undergo modifications such as incorporating a round kick, doubleleg, or hook kick (among other options) to enhance its visual allure while preserving the core characteristics.

Transitions

These are the intermediary steps bridging one trick to the next. Fundamentally, tricking revolves around crafting sequences comprising multiple maneuvers, and transitions are pivotal in facilitating the seamless linkage between different tricks, thereby enabling the formation of combos.

Elements of Tricking
Elements of Tricking

How to approach Tricking

In contrast to the structured progressions found in gymnastics or martial arts, tricking offers a more flexible and nonlinear approach to skill development. With its diverse array of trick categories, loosely interconnected yet not interdependent, tricking can be likened to navigating a video game tech tree, where numerous bases and paths await for leveling up. Given its versatile nature, you’re free to gravitate towards aspects of tricking that resonate with you, without feeling obligated to master every facet of the art.

Visualize your tricking journey as constructing a building, where the length signifies the variety of tricks you command, the width represents execution precision and cleanliness, and the height denotes the difficulty level of tricks. Some aspire to be well-rounded across all elements, resulting in a broader but not necessarily taller structure, while others may specialize in specific areas like swings or kicks, leading to a taller yet “slimmer” structure. Few, like Michael Guthrie, manage to excel across all dimensions.

Here are two common pathways many trickers embark upon:

  • Slow & Steady: Tailored for individuals who prefer a cautious approach or lack access to suitable equipment for attempting riskier tricks. Begin with vertical kicks and cartwheels to establish a solid foundation. Gradually expand your repertoire, honing bodily coordination and air awareness. Progress to more complex maneuvers like butterfly kicks and aerials, steadily broadening your skill base before aiming higher in difficulty.
  • Thrill Seeker: Suited for those fearless souls craving the rush of attempting daring feats. If you’re already comfortable with backflips or frontflips, continue exploring variations and adding extra rotations. Focus on powering through dynamic moves and mastering setup tricks like cartwheels and scoots to chain together sequences. However, always prioritize safety during training.

Ultimately, these paths represent two sides of the same coin. Whether you opt for a methodical ascent, establishing a diverse foundation before climbing upward, or prefer a swift dive into one particular skill path, with plans to circle back and train other tricks later, the beauty of tricking lies in its inherent adaptability. There’s no obligation to conform to a predefined style—choose what feels natural to you or pursue what you aspire to excel at. Observe and learn from trickers you admire as you carve your unique path in the world of tricking.

Summary

In conclusion, this article has provided a comprehensive glimpse into the vibrant world of tricking. We’ve explored its multifaceted nature, from its diverse influences to its boundless potential for creative expression. Through its fusion of kicks, flips, twists, and ground maneuvers, tricking offers a dynamic canvas for individuals to push the boundaries of physicality and imagination. As we conclude our journey, it’s evident that tricking transcends mere athleticism—it embodies a spirit of innovation, community, and personal growth. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or an intrigued observer, tricking invites everyone to join in the exhilarating dance of movement and self-discovery.

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