We’ve all heard it.. “If you’re not kicking, you’re not tricking!” That’s bullshit. Period.
If tricking is an aesthetic discipline, as it’s often described, if it’s an art, you can’t place such ridiculous criteria on it. It’s too diverse to be broken down into such a pathetic one-liner. Frankly, I see that phrase as narrow minded, authoritarian, and willfully ignorant. Other common permutations, like calling it “Martial Arts Tricking” (MAT) are no different. MAT is just a more subtle, succinct way to say it, in my opinion. It implies that there must be, or should be, a martial arts element to it. Why? Because that’s where the sport’s roots are? Tradition on its own is an illogical reason to do anything, so I reject that argument with every fiber of my being. As i’ve said many times before, tricking belongs to the people who do it now, not those who came before us. I will not be ruled by people who no longer participate, just because they had a different vision, and happened to participate chronologically earlier than i did. It’s our sport to grow the way we see fit, because we’re the ones using it right now. The old timers had their say, and they left us with what they thought was best, just as we will leave the next generation with what we think is best.
So.. you don’t have to kick. You don’t have to do vert kicks, and you don’t have variate your twists. It’s still tricking.. But think about what twist variations accomplish. They demonstrate greater skill and power, as well as unique aesthetics in the air. In a game that is currently so heavy on the tumbling/twisting axes, vert kicks break up the monotony. Vert kicks are often stationary, they are obviously straight up and down, more or less, and ideally, they demonstrate finer motor control. In my opinion, the main reason to vert kick is to create contrast with the multi-axis aesthetic so dominant in tricking now. It’s like doing a gainer-switch, or gainer-flash when you’ve done nothing but corks in the last 5 combos. It sticks out, and it shows you have another skill set; you are well rounded. At the very least it demonstrates control over your power, particularly when coming out of inverted twisting tricks, because it requires you do manage and direct your energy into a single axis. I’m often far more impressed by a well executed btwist vanish 5r (btwist vanish 9), than by cork s/t double-cork. It’s power vs finesse. If all you’ve shown is finesse, power is great. If you continually show me power, I want to see finesse. As I mentioned, it’s that contrast that keeps me interested, and kicking, both vert and inverted, helps to accomplish that.
Tricking is not sport karate.. it’s not tumbling.. it’s not freestyle martial arts, or gymnastics.. It’s a movement art (I shudder to use this phrase, but whatever..), and in defining it so, its whole cannot and should not be limited by restrictive thoughts. However, if/when you execute a martial arts inspired movement, the karate nazis absolutely have the right, and in my opinion, the responsibility to point out proper technique and standards. If you don’t like that, perhaps doing similar movements like a dancer might, and developing more/new terminology is appropriate. It seems unreasonable to get pouty about a gymnast or cheerleader trying to correct your form in a twist, and so the same should be true for kicking techniques. Some defined standard is necessary for quality to be assessed. Without a degree of objectivity, criticisms and compliments are equally meaningless. In order to avoid watering down tricking with an attitude that any flimsy movement is good, I think it’s fair to adopt some of the main standards and criteria from the disciplines that influenced us. That doesn’t mean we have to do everything like a gymnast, or a martial artist, but gross movements like chambering, setting, and relative body positions are very reasonable starting points.
Just a some things that have been rattling around in my head for awhile..