For reference on why am I started this section of FM, check out this post.
Here, I will share what it’s like to dabble in the art of Tricking. I’m one day deep, and I can tell you right now, this is one of the most physically demanding activities I have ever tried. It feels like it takes every single muscle in your body to jump in the air and rotate in various directions.
The first move I am working on is called the Double Leg. It comes from the martial art, Capoeira. It has had other names, but for now, Double Leg is what we will go with. The first time I saw this move was when I was taking Ceech Hsu’s Hip Hop class at Mission College. I saw (my now friend) Adrian Vasquez (Head Hunters) do some sort of straight leg rotating type maneuver over someone that was crouched down. I was like “what the WHAT?!” The move involves the body jumping in the air. While in the air, your torso is horizontal while your straight legs rotate vertically from one side to another, before landing.
I am learning from JayR DeGuzman (Loopkicks/DS Players). The dude can do some crazy stuff. I am lucky to be working with him.
Last friday (1/6/12) was the first day I started to work on the Double Leg. I only worked on it for about an hour. However, I was so sore for the next couple days, I needed to take a couple days off the gym because I couldn’t perform athletic movements with good range of motion. One of those hurts so good moments. My complete core is JUST now starting to feel better. If I needed to cough or sneeze, it hurt something fierce haha. My quads were incredibly sore as well, from needing to explode off of the ground to complete the movement. Also, my chest and shoulders were sore, from the movement you need to do with your arms to allow the body to rotate around.
Though still sore, I was at least able to get back in the gym yesterday and today. I have a little soreness left at the moment, but I feel recovered enough to go back at it tomorrow night. Last friday I was starting to almost land a few times when flipping over the big foam block thing. However, without it, fail fail fail fail haha. Tomorrow night I’m going to take some footage to see how it looks. I’ll post it here.
I’m excited about this new journey. It’s physically tough, but I feel blessed to have the ability to even try to learn this. Plus, I might be able to add a few new moves to my dance. Awesome.
I’m ready to learn to fly…
I made some progress towards completing the double leg last night. I still have yet to complete it without the foam block. However, I think the next time I work on this, I will be able to do it sans the blocky block block.
This is a tricky move because…well…they are all tricky haha. As with many moves, this one requires you to jump in a direction you are momentarily facing away from. Though you look in the direction where you are prepping, and quickly spot right back there as soon as you rotate, there is still a split second where you are going up and out without looking. Goodness! You have to trust that you are jumping high enough and that your whipped your arms around fast enough to allow you to do a full rotation.
As with any move, you have a lot of things that have to happen simultaneously. Or, at the very least, a lot has to happen in very close timing to each other. With this move, it helps to “J” step and then powerfully jump while swinging your arms at the right power and angle to get the motion to happen. As soon as you start to lift, you are supposed to pinch your butt and legs together to get them to be straight as you rotate. That’s a lot to have in your head when it all lasts like two seconds!
In this video you can see that I have a lot of work to do to get my legs straight and together, throughout the rotation. I have the block there to remind me to jump up and over it, which gets me to continue to try and get height in the jump. I have a couple really good attempts that I am really proud of. Of course, there are a bunch of not so great ones. I only recorded a few tries, to give everyone a sense of what it looks like.
Just for laughs, I will also post a failed attempt at the double leg. My friend, Will, was working on something to the right. I had it in my head to make sure I don’t hit him during the move. Anytime you are distracted mid move, it has potential to be all bad haha. And this example, is just that. I catch the block on the way up, which messes up my rotation. My balance was next to go, and you can see the outcome. Wahh wahh wahhhhh!
After a while, my right hip flexor was starting to tighten up to the point where I needed to stop. Now, I have a hard time picking up my right leg. Yesssss! But, that’s okay because you work hard at something, rest, then continue. I will do just that. I’m going to give myself a few days, and get right back at it.
Last night I decided to switch things up a bit and work on a move called an Aerial. Though not the same, picture a cartwheel but with no hands. You kick your legs above you while facing upside down. I will still work on the double leg, but I realized that doing the same move over and over gets the same exact body parts pretty beat up. Though many of these moves require similar muscle groups, different types of movement require the body to move in different patterns.
I never thought I would be working on cartwheels again. I used to play around with them as a little kid, but not since then have I tried to do one. It’s funny, a grown man, fumbling around trying to re-learn a cartwheel. Still, essential to move forward with this move, and this project as a whole. So there I go, trying to re learn something that I feel silly doing, not because it’s a silly move, but because I have the flexibility of a steel pipe.
Little by little, you work your way to doing a cartwheel with your front hand. Then, with the last hand that touches the ground. Eventually, you work to throwing enough power into a cartwheel type motion but while trying to not use your hands at all for support. Ideally, you want your legs to whip up and over you quick enough to where the momentum allows you to land again on your feet without ever having to touch your hands to the ground for support. Yeahhhh, I didn’t quite get to that point last night. I think I had the power and momentum on a few tries to have been able to do it, but something about being upside down that makes you think “AAHH, MUST PUT HANDS DOWN ON FLOOR AHHH”.
This move makes it blatantly obvious how much I lack flexibility. Ideally, you want to have your legs straight and directly above you while performing this move. My legs are bent, and not above me. Fail and fail. Years of strength training without focusing on proper stretching have played a roll in this. This doesn’t mean if you lift you have to be un-flexible. More on that later.
Here I am again, sore as all goodness. I’m sore pretty much everywhere. From my shoulders, down my lats, forearms, obliques, abs, lower back, most of my legs. It’s amazing to feel how these movements require your whole body to work so hard. Sometimes the moves don’t look all that incredibly difficult. Uh uh, until you actually try. However, I love the feeling of challenging my body to learn something new.
This video doesn’t make me look cool. In fact, I look pretty darn silly flopping around. However, that is exactly my point. Just like others who may be slowly but surely learning about fitness and nutrition, it’s a process to figure out what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to ask questions we think are silly about nutrition. Sometimes we feel silly doing exercises we know we should do but don’t know how to do properly. That’s exactly how I feel in the gymnastics gym. Everyone is doing crazy stuff and I’m over here failing at a cartwheel. But, in end, it’s about improving yourself. It’s about reaching the goals YOU have, regardless of others. That is exactly the message with the “Learn to Fly” series.
Here we go. A few trial runs from last night’s practice.
It has been a couple weeks since my last Learn to Fly entry. Why? Because learning to fly his tough!!! From the last time I worked on aerials, my hamstrings were so sore, it took me a good two weeks before I was able to even consider working on tricking again. Because of the quick/explosive motion that the aerials require, coupled with teach leg needing to move separately, it pretty much made me worthless for a little while. I can’t blame the move entirely. I could have warmed up more, as well as spent more time on stretching after the session.
Lesson learned. From now on, I can’t neglect a good warm up. A good stretch session after working on tricking, will also be required. It’s funny that these are lessons I have had to learn and re-learn so many times, you would think it would have stuck by now. Actually, I should focus even MORE on solid warm ups and stretching because I’m learning such new movements.
Once I realized I was good to go back to the gymnastics gym, my goal was clear. Nail the double leg without needing the foam box for moral support. It’s funny because as I got back into practicing this move, I was able to clear the block as I jumped over it. Remove the block, and psychologically, the move was so much tougher. I think it’s because just knowing that something is there under you that you can land on, feels safe. Also, it forces you to jump high enough, otherwise you hit the block on the way up and end up on the floor, like in my previous video.
After some serious encouragement from JayR, I finalllyyyy hit the double leg with just the open floor. It was such a good feeling. Once it clicked in my head that I really needed to make sure I jumped high up and focused on spotting, everything else just fell into place. JayR had me do a whole bunch of jumps over the block so that my body would get so used to doing the movement, it woudn’t matter if there was a block or not. Sure enough, it worked. I still need to work on cleaning it up. My legs aren’t straight, during the move. They aren’t together. My back isn’t parallel to the floor. There is a lot I need to work on. But, hey, I landed it! I’m excited to clean it up and make it look better in the future.
Don’t mind the two hours it took for me to get psyched before doing the move haha. Thanks to JayR for getting the footage. The footage I shot won’t work on my computer.
What move is up next? I’m thinking, backflip. I learned it a little over a year ago, but not consistently.
Ready to continue learning to fly…
The back flip is that iconic move that everyone knows and reacts to. It gets that “whoa” response. Everyone I have ever seen do a back flip, was just that much cooler. You could splash water on my pants from a rainy puddle and I would be like “hey, you aren’t cool anymore.” But if you did a back flip, you would be cool again. That’s how cool back flips are.
Growing up, I always thought it would be awesome to know how jump backwards in the air and somehow land on my feet. The problem was, I didn’t have anyone to learn from. A couple years ago, Will and I set out to learn a back flip. A buddy of ours was having an open session at a gymnastics gym. Long story short, we had no guidance, didn’t warm up, didn’t stretch, and just practiced over and over and over for a couple hours. Needless to say, I was broken for almost two weeks. My abs were so sore, it felt like it took me a half hour just to struggle to sit up from a laying back position on my couch or bed. Fail, me.
As soon as I recently started training with JayR, I knew it was going to be back flip time sooner or later. This last session was just that, “sooner.”
This move is scarier and more difficult, to me, than then double leg. In the double leg there is a split second where you can’t see where you are going, but once you make that quick turn with your head to spot behind you, the scary part is over. Once you get over the fear of a bajilionth of a second that feels like you are jumping backwards into space, you quickly gain control again. The back flip is different. You are jumping backwards and rotating above you! What the what?!? You can’t see where you are going and for a second, you are totally upside down. That is straight.up.cray.
Let me take you through what it felt like for me.
During the set up I’m thinking “omg omg omg, ok I’m ready, wait, no I’m not, okay Im ready, not yet, okay, wait, am I really going to jump up and backwards?” Now, this thought process may last two seconds or it may take me a good ten seconds to get psyched enough to try it.
I’v e said it before and let me say it again; JayR is an awesome teacher. He breaks the moves down bit by bit, and has us do drills and exercises that gradually prepare our body for what the move will actually feel like. For example, he had us jumping up and pulling in our knees to our chest. To get the feeling of how we should bring our knees in to help with the rotation. He then had us do the same move, but slightly jump backwards on to his shoulder. This way, we could get the feeling of jumping up and backwards, while also tucking our legs/knees into the center. After practicing this for a bit, we actually did jump back, onto a big soft mat, while he assisted our bodies with the flipping motion. After we got the motion down, he assisted with only one arm, so that we could do most of the work of the flip. Then, of course, we tried to do the flip with no assistance at all.
I say “we” because there were a few of us there that night. Myself, Jay-R (not to be confused with JayR :p ) Will and Kpop.
Long story, short-ish, I didn’t land the move by myself without assistance. However, I think next time, I can do it. I have a better feeling of what I need my body to do. Essentially, I need to do everything the same (for now) but keep my knees tucked into my chest for just a split second longer, to allow my body to continue to rotate before I let myself get out of it for the land.
Also, I fell into my face a couple times. Good times. Good times.
Side note, this time, I warmed up proper and got some good stretching in. I’m a little sore, but not NEARLY as bad as I was the last time around with this move. I’m two years older, and less sore than when I first tried to learn this move. Ah, the wonders of proper warming up and stretching.
One final note.
The funniest thing in the world is when you do a back flip and then the next thing you know, you landed. It’s like “WAIT, WHAT JUST HAPPENED. WHO? WHAT?” It feels so weird to go through the motion of being upside and then right side up, so quickly, that you almost forget where you are. It’s hilarious.
Here’s the footage.
Flying is fun. Can’t wait to learn more.
This past friday, the gymnastics gym where I usually train, was hosting a big session. This means many trickers get together to practice, show off tricks they have been working on, and just vibe out together. It’s amazing to watch the things these people can do. Flipping and twirling. Often, flipping WHILE twirling. Truly amazing.
As you would guess, this is quite the intimidating atmosphere for newbies such as myself and my friends. Usually when we go to practice, there aren’t too many people there and we can more or less work on our own things on the side. This way, we don’t feel like we are getting in anyone’s way, plus we have the time and space to work on what we need to work on. No problem. However, on a night like this, this is a bit more difficult to do.
The reason why I explain what that environment felt like is because this may be what it feels like for someone who wants to work out but is scared to go to a gym. Maybe you really want to start lifting weights, but feel like you don’t know what to do in there and are intimidated by everyone else who seems like they have 100 years of experience. Or, you might feel like everyone in the gym is in such good shape, and you aren’t quite yet. There was a time I felt like that in a gym, as well. I completely understand what that feels like. Now, I was in a similar situation. I was in an environment where the amount of difference in skill and ability, is so big between myself and the other trickers, that it sucks away what little confidence I had in the two moves I have learned in the past month haha.
The advice I would give someone in the gym situation I previously described, is the same advice I need to give myself for my current situation. Regardless how good everyone seems to be at whatever task they are completing, there was a point where they knew nothing about that same task. People who seem like they were in shape the day they were born, also had a time when they had no idea what they were doing. As for myself, the trickers who wow people with the acrobatic things they can do, also had a time when they didn’t know how to do any kind of flip. For this reason alone, we all have something in common with others who have experience in a task we know little about. Our timing just happens to be different. Everyone is on their own path, their own schedule. Whether you learned years ago, or started learning recently, it only matters what you are doing right now. As for what people might think? That should be the least of our worries. People think so many things and change their minds so many times, why worry about what one single thought might have been? You have a task/goal that you want to learn/improve on. All that matters is what you think.
If you can, find someone who seems to know what they are doing and see if they would be willing to share their skill with you. Whether it be someone who has experience with fitness, or experience with whatever you would like to learn, that would be a great first step. Once you get going, you can do your own research to learn more about your new goal and begin to refine who you would like to learn from .
As for me, I have been lucky enough and JayR has been gracious enough, to spend time training me in his passion. The result was me learning how to do a double leg, and now, a back tuck (back flip)!!!
Last week I wasn’t able to fully rotate around enough to allow my legs to get under my body, to allow me to land on my feet. I kept landing JUST short. Thanks to JayR, friends I train with, and Linda, I finally knew what I needed to do. Jump up, make sure not to stop short with my arms, and keep my knees tucked in just a smidge longer. The result? Landed that bad boy. Peep it!
Stoked. Up next? Butterfly Twists. Uh oh. Learning to rotate in the air is a whole other ball game.
It’s been a bit since I’ve updated Learn to Fly. I’ve had a busy last few weeks, traveling, and working on other projects. I did get a few tricking sessions in, but didn’t get a chance to write about my progress. So here we go…
I started to learn how to do a butterfly twist, along with making sure I still keep my backtuck and double leg. With physical movements such as these, I’m learning how important it is to continue to practice them, otherwise you will lose the ability to do them as easily as before. Therefore, even while learning new moves, I make sure to squeeze in a few rounds of tricks I learned in the past.
I’ve written about this before, but I keep relearning the same lesson. ALWAYS warm your body up in the appropriate fashion necessary for the movements you will be asking your body to do. A few weeks ago, I wanted to make sure I could still back flip. With little warm up, I did a few. I ended up slightly pulling a muscle in my abs and had to take it easy for a couple days. C’MON, MYSELF!! I was really disappointed in myself because silly injuries like this, though small, are pointless. All they do is keep you from being able to train hard.
Other than that isolated incident, I have been proud of how dedicated I have been to proper warm up/dynamic stretches. I have taken the warm up routine that JayR has shown me and applied it to every training session I have. Whether I’m about to trick, or train bboying, or just at a dance session, I go through the same exercises that I know will loosen up and stretch my body. This has helped my body stay ready for these types of physical movements.
The butterfly twist is such a frustrating move to learn. It is much more difficult for me than the backtuck and double leg. Rotating the body while horizontal is such a new type of movement, to me. JayR first taught us how to do a butterfly. Then, he taught us to add the twist. He p0inted out that the twist, as long as you use your arms for momentum, really only takes a second to complete. Therefore, you have plenty of time in the air to complete the motion. The problem is, putting all of the mechanics together, while in the air, feels really complicated. Also, a tough part about this move is that, until you learn to land on your foot, you often land on your knee. In my case, I kept landing on my left knee. Even though we are learning on soft mats, it still feels like your knee/skin is getting ripped off when you land on it.
I started to rotate while keeping my body more upright, in hopes of making it more likely I would land standing up. I didn’t do so on purpose, but my body must have just tried to stop landing on my knee. I then realized that as I learn to complete the twist part of the move, I can work on getting more and more horizontal (like you are supposed to do). You’ll see in the video that my last attempt was the best one yet, in terms of body angle during the move. Must have been because of my hype man, haha.
The front flip was just something I randomly wanted to learn. JayR didn’t bring it up to us, I just thought it would be fun to learn. He taught me what he knew about it, and there I went. After watching my footage, my sister pointed out I rotate slightly to the left when I land. I noticed that this makes it more difficult to land, because now I need to gain my balance at an angle. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on that at the next practice.
Here is the proof I have still been working hard. Also, I was excited I can now do euro-burpees!!