Anthony Mychal Hybrid Blueprint

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Tricking Saga

How to 540 Crescent / Cheat 720 Kick – A Written and Video Tricking Tutorial

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: soon…

Recommended prerequisites: 360 crescent

Description: A jump, spin, outside stretch kick!

The 540 crescent is a natural progression atop the outside crescent kick category of tricks. It differs from the 360 crescent in that it uses a “cheat” takeoff (single footed) rather than a pop takeoff (two footed). And because of this, it shares a lot of similarities with the 540 kick.

Slide by slide breakdown

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

As usual, harness your inner strength to one side of your body to corral momentum. Be relaxed.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Shift the momentum to the direction of flight.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

See how my left leg opened up a bit? Yeah, do that. Turn that foot to wind your lower body up. Step over and across your body with the other foot. Arms are wide because wide arms make for better spins, as long as you coil them at the right time.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

It looks very 540 here, but my 540 crescents are very different feeling because I treat them as a more technical move. This is one of those technical bits: see how my spine is close to being straight up and down? I’m trying hard to keep myself centered because my rotation has to be centered.

I’m also not digging for height that much. To me, in this move, the spin trumps the jump height. I’m more focused on prepping for a good spin, and you don’t need that much height for a good spin.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Things went down and around and are now preparing to go up. Take a look at my right foot. It’s “cheating” right now. The video clears this up further, but the direction you plant your foot matters a lot in this move. You typically need to rotate it more than you think you do during the set up.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

If me facing the camera is 0 degrees, you can see my take off foot is planted at around 90 degrees. That’s the magic. If you’re taking off and your foot is beyond 90, then fix it.

Otherwise, this is where we take flight. In any move, you get your height before you wrap for spin. Arms are wide, going straight up in the air. Lead knee is following. Up, up, and away!

Also: look at my head. You need to kick a target in this move. Look at your target initially as you get your height. It will ground you and keep your rotation tighter.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After everything goes up and you stare down your target for a hot second, it’s time to bring everything in. Wrap like a mummy. Or a burrito. Or a roll of toilet paper. Or whatever. Bring your arms into your body.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After you wrap, think about your target again. Bring your head around to look at your target. Where your head goes, the body follows. Want to get around? Then get your eyeballs around.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Once you see your target, eject the kick. This kick will be a mirror of what your outside stretch kick looks like, so if you don’t like your kick you need to go back to basic and practice.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Throw the kick at the target. Take someone’s head off.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After the kick, I have a habit of bending my leg in preparation for the landing. It’s also something I do during my regular outside stretch kicks. Again, don’t be an idiot like me: get your basics solid and they’ll melt into your tricks in the same solid fashion.

540 Crescent Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Land.

Recap cues:

  • Prep the spin more so than the jump on the takeoff.
  • Cheat the takeoff. Point your plant leg the right direction.
  • Get your height by throwing everything in the air.
  • Look for a target and kick the target.

Troubleshooting:

Bad kick? Maybe you just need to practice. If you haven’t put in some hours training basic kicks, start there.

Bad spin? Try to keep your torso upright during takeoff. Don’t bend at the waist as much. Try to keep your spine straight. Also: keep your arms wide at the start of the trick, and then wrap when the time is right.

No height? Make sure you’re throwing everything up. There should be a point in the move where your hands are above your head.

Your next conquest:

  • Cheat 900

See the rest of the tutorials:

 

How to Aerial – A Written and Video Tricking Tutorial

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: soon…

Recommended prerequisites: cartwheel, hand releasing cartwheel, orthodox cartwheel, southpaw cartwheel

Description: The aerial is a cartwheel without hands. Before “diving” into this move (pun severely intended), you need to have a solid cartwheel foundation and a decent enough flexibility foundation. Both sort of go hand in hand.

All in all, the aerial is one of the easier “flipping” tricks to get into because it’s progressive and you have your hands as landing gear to safeguard you from discomfort. As a bonus, it’s one of the more versatile tricks that leads into a rabbit hole is nifty aerial based tricks.

Aside: I command you to visit Acrobolix because Jujimufu is an irreplaceable hub of aerial information. He is king, and thou shall kneel. He’s helped me out a lot. Beyond a lot. I owe a lot to him for his help, so don’t be surprised if you see “stolen” tips below.


Slide by slide breakdown

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Start in a relaxed position. My hands are out by my side because the hands (specifically the shoulders) are such an important part of the trick that I queue their purpose into my head before anything else.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

After a few steps, I bring my leading knee towards my chest and take a hope. My hands are wide and they are wide for a reason. Keep your hands up!

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

This slide is where my trailing foot plants into the ground after the initial hop. I paused it here for two reasons. First, look at my eyeballs. They should be looking where you want to go. More on the details here in a bit. Second, take note of my body position. Next slide is your guide.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Even though my trailing leg plants, my body still moves forward. (This was the point of the lead in from the second point in the previous slide.) My leading leg planted a on line with my body momentum, not behind it. You can’t get behind yourself, else you won’t get enough push. See how vertical my shin is? This is because my momentum is going to keep going forward. 

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Remember I mentioned the eyes? The eyes look to where you want to go. Ideally, you want your torso to be horizontal to the ground. That’s the absolute best way to maximize height. You don’t want to have an excessive downward angle, else you’ll aerial your face into the ground. Alright, alright…you probably wouldn’t land on your head, but you wouldn’t get much height. My torso has a slight toward pitch, which is fine. It’s close enough to horizontal to get me some height.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Now, onto some of the specifics. The lifting leg goes back. Hard. Act like you’re lifting it not only high in the air, but behind your body. See (1) below for this. My left arm is doing a lot of work too. I’m thinking about bringing my left elbow in across my body. See (2) below. My right arm is opening up and sort of slinking over my body. See (3).

Aerial Anthony Mychal

Silently underneath all of this, there’s one last important mention: keep your upper body in front of the lead leg. Go back and look at the previous slide. My upper body isn’t being launched behind my leg, but rather in front of it. Your upper body leads you into the move, so keep it in front of yourself.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

When all of those arm actions combine, my torso turns over to face the direction of travel. That’s when you know you’re doing a good aerial. Your torso rips your body through.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

The previous point is better explained here. Look at my arms. They’re “closing,” in a sense, and my leg is going to plop right between them. Sometimes tricksters do “trickster” aerials, which usually have the torso open the entire move. If you want to move into advanced aerial tricks, you need to learn how to take the aerial over the top (do a gymnast aerial) rather than side-to-side.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

A good sign of taking the aerial over the top: your first landing leg cuts the space in between your arms in half. It’s not uncommon to do aerials where the arms get mangled and the right arm (well, my right arm) gets caught in front of the landing leg. If this is happening, you need to go back to (1), (2), and (3).

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Eject the landing gear.

Aerial Tricking Tutorial Anthony Mychal

Blur face.

Recap cues:

  • Keep your torso in front of your legs!
  • Lift the leg high, hard, and behind.
  • Bring the left arm across your body — try to keep it in front of your lead knee.
  • Slink the right arm over the top — internally rotate the shoulder and let everyone smell your armpit.

Troubleshooting:

Putting your hands down? It’s a natural defense mechanism. Suffice to say, you have to crash. Seriously. Just chuck it. Commit to not putting your hands down. Have someone punch you if you violate this code. And then once you realize that crashing isn’t so bad, you’ll be less prone to bail out.

Bent legs? Yeah, I have this problem to. Part of it is technique. If your technique is shady, it’s harder to get straight legs. Part of it is flexibility. Being able to do the splits is a good indicator of having enough flexibility. Part of it is conscious awareness. If all else fails, you need to queue yourself into keeping them straight. Usually, in order to do this, you have to be able to do the trick rather automatically, so don’t forget the order: learn the trick first, even if it’s ugly, and then polish it up.

Crashing into the ground? Try reaching more forward with your torso, rather than down. It should feel uncomfortable with how forward you’re going.

Your next conquest:

  • Axe2Aerial

See the rest of the tutorials:

How to Tornado Kick – A Written and Video Tricking Tutorial

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: lots of inside (crescent, roundhouse) kicking

Description: The tornado kick is a spinning jump inside kick. Because of this, I recommend building up a decent amount of flexibility and strength by drilling your basic kicks. What we’re doing is adding complexity, speed, and anger atop that foundation.

The two dominant inside kicks are the inside crescent kick and the roundhouse kick. Most traditional martial artists prefer the roundhouse because it’s more fight friendly. Alas, I’m a trickster, not a fighter. It doesn’t matter what kick gets thrown as long as you can control it and it looks pretty. Over the years, I’ve grown into the crescent style kick, but it’s good to experiment with both.

Slide by slide breakdown

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

All about the momentum, baby. Everything is to the left because everything’s going to go to the right…only to come back to the left.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Here we are, cocked and loaded.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

My momentum is shifting back to my other leg, but check it out: I’m placing my leg beyond the mid-line of my body just a little bit. And because of this, my body has to play catch up.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Because my leg was planted beyond the mid-line, my body has to play catch up, and you can use this to your advantage. Things are now in motion, preparing for the spin takeoff, but check out my head. I’m looking straight ahead. You want to pick out a target in front of you to kick at and single it out.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Look at your target for as long as possible, but when your body is forcing you to turn, turn. Keep the hands high during all of this. My right arm is “lagging” behind because it’s going to rip down and through. Like a rubber band, you have to stretch it if you want it to recoil with some anger.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

During the turn, high hands dig down to prepare you for the vertical part of the trick. The important part of this slide though? My foot. Check it out. My body has almost rotated 180 degrees, yet my foot still hasn’t planted.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Ah, look at the leg now! It’s planted and even rotated a little bit ahead of the rest of my body. This is what block is all about. It’s why we go a little horizontal on the takeoff, too. Whatever “piece” is leading your body, it should always be one step ahead.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Planting the leg the way we did now gives us some good momentum to work with. After the arms dig through, you want to throw everything up and look for your target. That’s all you need to think about for now.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

I wasn’t lying to you. Throw the hands and leg up, look for the target.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Once you have the target in sight, prepare the kick. The type of kick you throw will determine your body position. Since I throw a crescent kick, my torso is more square to my target. If I was throwing a roundhouse, my hips would be turned over more.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

At this point, it’s all about the kick. If you threw the non-kicking leg up high, it will take care of itself. Mine straightens out naturally. No thought goes into it.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

Kill. In order to kill, you have to be looking at what you’re killing, so look at your victim.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

After you kill your victim? Keep looking. See how my eyes are still facing my target? Your legs will carry your momentum through.

Tornado Kick by Anthony Mychal

You’re on the right track if you start to land on both legs simultaneously. That’s when you know you’ll have a good chance to take this trick to more advanced levels.

Recap cues:

  • Takeoff is huge, get horizontal momentum going to your advantage.
  • Eye up target.
  • Swing arms down and back straight up. 
  • Lift lead knee high.
  • Eye up target a second time.
  • Kick target.

Troubleshooting:

Bad kick? Maybe you just need to practice. If you haven’t put in some hours training basic kicks, start there.

Low kick? How’s your flexibility?

Your next conquest:

See the rest of the tutorials:

How to 360 Crescent Kick – A Written and Video Tutorial

 

Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: outside kicking (crescent kicks, hook kicks)

Description: The 360 crescent kick is a jump outside crescent kick. It also is sometimes called a 360 hook or a 360 wheel, which is just getting more specific on the type of kick thrown. For my money, you should go with the crescent kick.

The 360 crescent kick is one of the prettier tricks, in my eyes. Nothing beats a powerful jump followed by a graceful yet violent crescent that follows. And as with any kick trick, you better have some basic kick training under your belt for not only injury protection, but also cleanliness. If your basics are sloppy, your tricks will be sloppy.

[click to continue…]

How to 540 Kick: A Written and Video Tutorial

 

Video exampler: here

Video tutorial: here

Recommended prerequisites: tornado kick

Description: The 540 kick is a jumping and spinning inside crescent or hook kick that plagues most trickster’s lives. It took me over one year to learn this trick, and I’m not the only victim to that harsh of a learning curve. Hypothetically, you’re supposed to spin 540 degrees in the air. Realistically, no one cares.

Just like with the tornado kick, I recommend building up a base of inside kicking. And just like with the tornado again, it’s your choice whether you go with inside crescent kicks or round kicks. Martial artists seem to prefer round kicks. I prefer inside crescent kicks simply because it makes martial artists mad, and being a rebel makes me feel special.

Slide by slide breakdown

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

The 540 is the takeoff. The 540 is the takeoff. Good take off = good things. Bad takeoff = bad things. Just as with every trick it seems, my weight and momentum starts on one side ready to be shifted to the other.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Here we go. This is what blocking is all about and is a huge concept in every trick, but especially something like the 540. Not only do I want height for the 540, but I also need rotation. In order to make this easier, I’m going to get some horizontal momentum going so I can sling it vertically. Part of this is getting that left leg out in front of my body a little bit. It’s almost butterfly twist like.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Momentum shift has begun and here’s where things get cool. See my right arm and right leg? Left arm and left leg? Each side is going to synchronize the arm and leg.

Note the wide arms. Bear hug something. I guess. But remember: you get more rotational sauce if you start with wide arms and then bring them in close.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Left leg is planted firmly with arm firm and my right side (both leg and arm) are coming across my body to set up for an ideal jumping position. Head and eyeballs facing forward, which is big. Your head anchors your body, and for the 540 kick, you want yourself anchored forward. Pick a target in front of you and use it as a reference point.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Right leg continues to rotate inward. Arms still high and wide, but look at that right arm of mine: it’s still facing my target. This slide is just moments after I ditched eyesight on my target in order to turn. Don’t forget about your target, you’ll find it again soon enough.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

This looks funky and it’s very hard to describe with text. At the beginning, my feet were facing forward. But look at my right leg. It actually planted facing the left edge of my house, which is slightly ahead of my shoulder rotation. I could talk about blocking again if I wanted to: the key to carrying momentum is to always make your next move just a little bit ahead of your center of gravity and momentum.

Also important is that it’s out in front of my body — my leg isn’t right next to my other leg. From a depth perspective, my right leg is closer to the camera. Again, blocking. 

Anyway, the arms arc downward just as they do in a vertical jump — they’re on their way down because they’re coming right back up.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

At the takeoff, you want to drill into your brain: find target, kill target. The goal is to get your body situation in a position where you can kick your target, and so that’s what we’re trying to do.

See the left arm and left leg? They’re doing the same thing. Both are lifting up to get me in the air.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

More air. The first part of the takeoff was all about going horizontal and rotating about yourself so that you could eventually use it to propel yourself in the air. Now’s the time to make use of all that cheddar, so get yourself up. Arms up in the air, first leg up in the air.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

I always point my fingers on tricks because I’m stupid. Don’t worry, it’s my pointer finger, not my middle finger. Here’s the good stuff though. Everything went up and my eyes are now fixated on my target that I’m going to be kicking. Find your target with your eyes. 

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

I promised you that my legs and arms would synchronize, and this is no different. Leg has started on its way to kick the target. Note that it’s pretty straight and would classify more as a crescent kick. With this, my hips are rather square to my target. If I was throwing a round kick, things would be different and the hips would be turned over more. Just something to keep in mind if you’re a round kicker.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Still facing the target as the kick comes through. Non-kicking leg has dropped so that my kicking leg can come over the top without interference.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

After the kick? Still looking at the target. Non-kicking leg is bending, which makes rotating through the move easier.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

For the 540, I like to keep myself forward for as long as possible. My upper body sometimes gets caught behind when I do this, which you can see in the slide above. If I wanted to take my momentum with me as much as possible, I’d carry my arm with my leg.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

At this point, you might realize that my torso is at an angle. The torso naturally leans back for me during the kick, but it’s not something I consciously think about. And following up from last slide: if my goal was rotation, I’d be coiling right now. But as you can see, my one arm got left behind. It’s not ideal, but — hey — throwing tricks is rarely ideal. I’m not here to show you perfect tricks that I land once in a decade.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

Things are just chugging on from earlier as I deploy the landing gear. I stopped it here because it looks like I’m posing for the Ginyu Force.

540 Kick by Anthony Mychal

I land here, and I “technically” complete the 540 degree rotation. Again, I don’t really care much about the rotation. Just make it look good.

Recap cues:

  • Takeoff is huge, get horizontal momentum going to your advantage.
  • Eye up target.
  • Swing arms down and back straight up. 
  • Lift lead knee high.
  • Eye up target a second time.
  • Kick target.

Troubleshooting:

Bad kick? Maybe you just need to practice. If you haven’t put in some hours training basic kicks, start there.

Low kick? Actually kick. Don’t think of the 540 as a leg lift over your non-kicking leg. Get some sauce behind the kick, and don’t be afraid of it.

Just sucking in general? Look, the 540 is a very complex move. It took me over a year to learn it and I was dissecting every video I could find and comparing it against mine. You have to put in your time. The best suggestion I can give is to train your tornado kick to hell and back. The better your tornado is, the better your 540 chances are. Try to integrate a 540 takeoff (more aggression) into a tornado kick.

Your next conquest:

  • Jacknife

See the rest of the tutorials:

 

Trick tip #1: know what happens to old clothes

Old Clothes Anthony Mychal Trick Tip

Ever have a bunch of old clothes that you just can’t throw away? You know you’ll never wear them. Ever. But you can’t let them go. The thin film of dead clothes grows into a thick boulder of even deader clothes over the years. Junk smashing other junk. 

You’re left with baggage. Less room. More crap. Dead crap at that — crap you’re never going to use. It doesn’t make sense, this habit. It’s not the smartest quirk to have.

And that’s why your body throws it’s old clothes away. Whatever it knows it’s not going to use, say bye-bye. There’s no need to have useless junk taking up space and energy when both the space and the energy could go elsewhere. A more important elsewhere, to boot.

Your body is greedy. It’s always trying to survive in a way better suited to the world you’ve shown it.

Want it? Need it. The body is more likely to keep it around (or create it) if you need it.

Don’t need it? You won’t have it. Your body doesn’t keep old clothes.

You have a lot clothes when you’re young — clothes you regularly wear. Balancing and vestibular awareness. The juicy fluid in your inner ear. Spatial reasoning. Constructing a virtual pathway in your brain. Kinesthetic sense. Knowing where your body is in space. Spatial-temporal awareness. Knowing where you are in relation to other objects. 

You roll. Squat. Jump. Fall. You weren’t afraid of landing impact. You weren’t afraid of the universe rotating your consciousness as you somersaulted sixteen times in a row. You know, just for fun. For kicks. You, in all of your youthful plasticity, soaked up these abilities as you did these things. You bought the clothes. 

Your body is cool keeping these clothes around because you wear them. Because you do find it enjoyable to somersault sixteen times in a row for no real reason.

Today? Unlike when you were six? Sixteen somersaults make you spew your supper into the foliage. You don’t have those clothes anymore.

Put your arm in a cast and your muscles wither away. Put your balance, spatial reasoning, kinesthetic awareness, and that whole bag of treats into a cast (don’t use them) and they wither away too. 

They become old clothes. Never worn. Baggage. 

Every day you don’t put wear these clothes they collect dust. Every molecule of dust inches them closer to the corner of the closet where old clothes slither in soot. And what do you know about old clothes? What happens to them?

Your brain is plastic, just like your body. Use these abilities or lose these abilities. 

The best time to start was yesterday.

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Click here to visit the tricking tutorials page!

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Image credit: old clothes

 

How to Butterfly Twist: A Written and Video Tutorial


Video exampler: here

Singles and slow-mo: here

Recommended prerequisites: butterfly kick

Description: The butterfly twist is considered to be a butterfly kick with a 360 spin. For my money, it’s only 1/4 of the butterfly kick and it feels like a completely different trick, which is why you don’t even need to know how to butterfly kick clean in order to have a nice and fancy butterfly twist.

Slide by slide breakdown

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

The takeoff is butterfly kick magic. Revisit that tutorial here if you need a full refresher. Weight is all on my right leg and arms are back, too. Everything is back right now.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

I get momentum from a little spin, as do most people. My spin is pretty mild though. See how I’m pretty much straight up and down? That means I’m coasting into the trick. I’m letting this takeoff give me momentum, but I’m controlling things. When I was first learning this trick, one of the mistakes I kept making was going hyper speed into the takeoff. Keep your head calm, keep your body relaxed.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

After the turn, everything is back as the lead leg swings out. Pace is starting to heighten here to prepare for the violence. If you’re comparing your video against mine, be sure to examine what your shoulders are doing in relation to the swinging leg. Although everyone is different, I like to keep my shoulders back a bit when I throw the swing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Ah, just like in the butterfly kick, that lead swing leg opens before it plants into the ground. Everything is still back, but I’m getting ready to dip into the U and play that funky music.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Dip into the U. Not only does this get you height it also gets you rotation provided you dip across your body. I harp on that in the butterfly kick tutorial, so recheck that if you have to. My body starts in front of my legs (my torso is closest to the camera right now). It’s going to dip across my front leg and my torso will end up closer to the house.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Just as planned. With the U dip not only down and up, but also across my front leg, my torso is now on it’s way to be closer to the house than my lower body. (Wasn’t the case last slide.)

This is the butterfly kick’s last moment of similarity. The goal here is to lift the back leg as high as possible. Doing so not only gets you height, but it also keeps your body horizontal to the ground. I know it doesn’t look like I’m lifting it high, but I’m trying to. Compared to not  lifting it at all, it’s a big difference.

Also: arms. For any twisting trick, one of the keys is to keep the arms wide at first. This gives you more power for the spin itself because you can coil them inwards to your body. Tricking is all about transition of momentum. Wide arms at the moment of takeoff is a good thing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

The only thing that happened since the last slide: me jumping and then coiling my arms to my body tighter. One thing to consider is stalling the twist, which is something you might hear others tell you to do. Stalling the twist basically means getting as much height as you can before initiating the twist. Once you start twisting, your height gaining is all but over.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

And to show the stall, here’s another video. The first part of getting more height and stalling is actually coming to full extension. See my jumping leg? It actually…uhh…jumped? This is tricky to do for starters. If you’re having trouble with height or with getting horizontal, check your jumping leg out.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

In this slide, you can see my torso is still facing the ground and yet my entire body is off the ground. If you hit a position like this, all that’s left is coiling your arms to your body and turning your head. Seriously. As for how to coil? I usually think about bringing my right arm to my heart and striking over top my body with my left elbow.

Now, this stalling business isn’t exactly easy and I have two classifications of stalling. One is to truly do a butterfly kick and then twist over. That’s a mega stall. For most of us, when we need to stall, that’s a little bit beyond what we’re looking for.

My friends and I discovered, one day, that stalling for us was all about taking a glimpse at the grass right after takeoff and right before spinning. Just a fraction of a second hello! to the grass, not a memorizing stare down.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Your legs will do funky things in the air. I’m not consciously thinking about them, nor do I ever unless I’m trying to do a specific trick. Your body will settle into something comfortable over time. You have enough to think about already, so for the legs it’s all about throwing the back leg up high and jumping with intensity. That’s your job.

Slide above? Check my head. Your head leads all rotations. Where the head goes, the body follows. I’m tight and my head is searching for the ground right now so I can spot my landing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Landing spotted and I eject the landing gear. I’ve been doing this trick long enough to have most of it unconsciously programmed, so don’t take too many notes from these final slides. I unravel almost to stand upright at the end, which likely won’t happen. Key point is to look for your landing. Spot your landing, and then reach for your landing.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Once you spot your landing, you can unravel from the coiled position.

Butterfly Twist by Anthony Mychal

Recap cues:

  • Swing, dip, jump.
  • Dip in two axes. First, down and up. Second, across your lead leg.
  • Lift the lead leg high and fully extend and use that jumping leg for all it’s worth.
  • Once you got your height, coil your arms and look over your shoulder.
  • Spot your landing.

Troubleshooting:

No height? 

  • Try to slow down your takeoff. Sometimes a quick takeoff can lead us more horizontal than vertical.
  • Lift that first leg high.
  • Come to full extension on the jumping leg.
  • Say hello to the ground for a fraction of a second before twisting.

Body not horizontal?  Look first at the back leg and how high you’re lifting it. After that, make sure you aren’t bringing your torso up out of fear. Saying hello to the ground helps this, too.

Landing on your knees? You probably have the motions down, but the comfort isn’t there. You need practice and confidence so that you can make use of your body 100%.

Landing on your back? Commit to the spin. Coil. 

Your next conquest:

  • Hypertwist

See the rest of the tutorials:

Ask Ant #1: How to juggle strength training, gymnastics, and tricking

Ask Ant is my way of turning an inbox of nightmares into useful content for you. Each question is taken from my inbox, and identities are always kept private. If you’re wondering how to ask a question, sign-up for this thing. I send out weekly notes with personal, honest training reflections and tips, book reviews and suggestions, and the most recent blog posts from my personal email address. All you have to do is hit reply and type away. 

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How much lifting do you recommend if my goals in order of priority are:

  1. Do amazing things with my body (gymnastics/tricking, specifically going for an aerial right now)
  2. Not get fat (I’m fine staying where I am in terms of body body composition)

I’m terrified of cutting back on lifting because I’m afraid that my body will think “ha ha! I don’t have as much heavy things on me so I can send calories to fat instead of muscle now.” But I worry that lifting doesn’t have a lot of direct carry over to tricking and gymnastics and may impede my ability to do awesome because it makes me not as fresh/more inflexible.

First, the only way strength work would make you more inflexible is if you stopped training for flexibility, or are generally stiff from being sore or tired.

Second, you’re right to question the carry over. Strength, beyond a certain point, is counter productive insofar as training for it simultaneously with tricking or any other fits of acrobatic fast-twitch fits of rage. Realistically, beyond the trite double bodyweight squat and/or deadlift, extra strength isn’t going to help you trick all that better. Tricking is a skill, and to get better you have to trick. You seem to know this, though.

Third, for the fat issue, this one’s simple: don’t eat like you’re trying to build muscle. Your partitioning can be a world of anus, but if you aren’t giving your body the absolute excess to throw to fat cells, it won’t have anything to throw to fat cells.

And with that, don’t be afraid to forego muscle building training. The most muscular people in the world don’t train for muscle year round, and that’s something to learn from. Training different things keeps you motivated and keeps your interest piqued. It also makes your actual muscle building stints that much more powerful and meaningful.

What I like to do in the summer: lift more frequently, but with less…care? In a sense? I guess?

See:

Of course, these are barbell-centric programs and require a leap of faith if you want to make your own sorta thing. I’m doing a mash up of both programs right now, but with strictly front squats and snatch-esque deadlifts for the lower body. The upper body is all gymnastics training: handstands, planches, levers, one arm chin-ups, weighted chin-ups, weighted dips, handstand push-ups, straight arm handstand press work, L-sit junk, ring complexes.

Sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It’s 1-2 sets of squats and deadlifts, 2-3 sets of 2-3 of the gymnastics bits, and then I’m out. Never train to strain. Tempo is higher than usual, too. I find myself going into sets a bit more winded than I find comforting, but I’m not trying to make it metabolic work or anything. Always leave fresh.

It’s a nice change of pace and something you’ll probably become addicted to. Because, well, you tend to get stronger, feel healthier, and are fresh for just about anything you want to do otherwise.

You’ll also train your body into a better work capacity. Instead of crying over lifting zapping your energy for tricking, you’ll build up some steel down there so that they can handle a bit more work.

Nutritionally, I prefer a more relaxed approach during all of this. I’m unlike most people in that I really don’t care about external appearances. My body is for me, and it’s my own vehicle for Quality. Summer is laden with parties and birthdays, and I’d drive myself insane trying to be super strict. I find myself just mitigating the damage as best I can by setting 2-3 days up in “extreme” fat loss mode, knowing that at least one or two days per week will include some alcohol, and another one or two will include me making a more robust dinner.

All in all, don’t be afraid of trying something new or regressing in some domains if it means progressing in others. It’d be nice if we could level up our entire being all at once, but it doesn’t usually work what way. I will say, though, that going through a period of less will surprise you. It’s worth the dabble.

A first glimpse at the movement matrix

Movement. 

It’s all the rage these days. We want to move naturally because somehow we’ve started to move…unnaturally? And so in our olden age, we’re out there crawling and rolling around like babies to hark back to our natural roots. We see babies squat, and we want to do that too. Babies know how to breathe, too! (We forgot how to do that as well. I’m holding my breath as I type this.)

Yeah, there’s a touch of sarcasm there. I don’t doubt we’ve somehow regressed from a movement standpoint, but I am such a wild navigator of the Internet to know that — surprise! — not all babies crawl. In fact, some say this whole “crawling” thing might be a relatively new thing.

Amazingly, babies of the Au hunter-gatherers of Papua New Guinea skip the crawling stage altogether. Instead, parents carry them everywhere– without any apparent ill effects. Tracer found that babies were carried upright in a sling 80 to 90 percent of the time, and on those rare occasions when mothers put them on the ground, they were propped up in a sitting position rather than placed on their stomachs. As a result, Au kids never learn to crawl, though they do go through a “scooting” phase of energetic “bottom-sliding.”

And Au kids are not alone. It’s the same in other traditional societies, such as in Paraguay, Indonesia, and Mali. Anthropologist Wenda Trevathan agrees that babies were probably rarely placed on the ground in the past and stresses how easily we can fall into the mythology of judging all human infants based on Western cultures.

- Source

So much for *ahem* “naturalness.”

Alas, the movement of movement continues. Movement itself is almost becoming a sport of sorts, and that’s something I’ve had a tough time wrapping my head around. Somehow I got mixed up in this whole world because I trick.

To be honest though: I trick. I don’t think of “movement” as some heavenly godsend or some duty of mine as a human being. I thought doing flips and stuff was cool, and so that’s what I do. I thought lifting weights was cool, and so that’s what I do. I thought gymnastics ring training was cool, and so that’s what I do.

I say this to remind you: don’t tangle your Schwartz.

If you want to move, then go ahead and move. I’m not going to judge you. But if you’re doing this “movement” thing to lead you to some kind of athletic greatness, you probably need to rethink things. As with most everything, some is good but more isn’t always better. You want to have some capacity for movement, but being a “movement specialist” means you can move, not that you have the capacity for any sort of skill.

This is something I think about a lot because I was once that dude that did everything under the sun to get better at tricking, save for actually tricking. This, I think, is why I suck at tricking so bad and why I’ve thought about it so much.

Below is a little matrix of things that go into a skill — things that I’ve found to be important, at least.

SKILL

1. PSYCHOVISTIBULAR =MENTAL ACUITY, BALANCE, KINESTHETIC SENSE, VESTIBULAR AWARENESS

2. MOVEMENT =RHYTHM, FLUIDITY, PRECISION, SPEED, CONSISTENCY, INTENSITY, AMPLITUDE

3a. NEUROMUSCULAR = TENSION [ RATE / MAGNITUDE / DURATION ], ELASTIC – FRICTION, STAMINA, SUPPLENESS, FLEXIBILITY, MUSCLE “COORDINATION”

3b. ENERGY SYSTEMS =LACTIC – ALACTIC – AEROBIC

For now, I’ll just pretend like I know what the words mean as I explain it a little bit.

I think it’s hierarchical, meaning that if the first bucket faults, the rest faults.

If you’re afraid, then the first bucket (psychovestibular) is out of whack. And if that’s out of whack, everything below it will be out of whack. I don’t care how high you can jump, if you can’t get over the fear of going backwards, you won’t be able to backflip. I don’t care how strong you are, if you can’t balance you won’t be able to express your strength.

Likewise, the bucket below psychovestibular is the movement buckets, which is based off of (*ahem* stolen from *ahem*) Kurt Mienel’s framework. For absolute execution of a skill, that bucket usually has to be solidified, too. You might not be afraid of a baseball, you might have your balance, and you might even be the strongest guy in the world, but if you can’t swing a baseball bat, you won’t be a very good ball player. That’s the second bucket, which is probably best paralleled with technique in any given skill.

The buckets below are important too, so don’t think I’m not saying that’s the case. In fact, I don’t know what I’m saying so maybe I’ll just leave it here for now. Hopefully this makes some sense to you, but the point of it all is that skills are skills and generally need some specialization.

Training for energy systems and strength or any of that stuff is below the importance of technique. Unless, of course, you aren’t strong enough to pick up the bat.

A Trickster’s Guide to Ankle Injuries and Strength

trickankle

In January of 2011, I broke my foot in five places during a fluke tricking accident. (Don’t bail tricks, kids. Never ends well. Your thoughts = your actions. Don’t tell yourself that things won’t end well mid-trick unless you want things to not end well.)

I was on crutches for longer than I want to remember. I was in an itchy cast most of that time, too. I still remember how tough it was for me to go to sleep every single day, as my foot throbbed with pressure against the tight shell of the plastered cast.

Now, if you know anything about me, you’d know that I’m an aggressive rehabber. I firmly believing starting movement as fast as possible after an injury. Despite my doctor’s orders, I was slowly easing weight onto my foot — even to the point of squatting a few days after getting casted. I was walking with a boot before my cast was even off, and I fully believe that my aggressive attack was one of the reasons I didn’t have a rebreak — something all too common with bone breaks in the foot.

(For those wondering, the problem with my foot now is a neuroma, and that developed about seven months after I was out of my cast after an Olympic weightlifting stint — one of the reasons I can’t really do much in the way of Olympic lifts anymore, and why I simply stick to aggressive pulls that are Olympic weightlifting-esque.)

Anywhooooo, despite all of the rehab I did with my cast on, my foot was still a limp noodle when the cast came off. I could barely walk, and I had no fine motor control down there. My foot slapped against the ground with every stride, much like a girlfriend slapping a boyfriend across the face. If you want an example of how bad things were, stand up. Shift your weight onto one leg, and lift the other in the air. You’re probably balancing on one leg just fine. Yeah, I couldn’t even do that for a millisecond.

Over the next month or so, I really entangled myself in rehab so that my foot would heal correctly. Since my ankle was casted, I was primarily looking at regaining ankle function, which led me down many avenues.

The entire time, I couldn’t help but think to myself: boy, this stuff could really help tricksters.

Dogen’s Titanium Ankle tutorial often floats around as the “go to” for ankle health among tricksters, but it’s really not even a scratch on the surface of true ankle health. I really wanted tricksters to understand the foot and ankle as I had come to understand them, because I thought it could prevent some injuries.

Just recently, I got around to putting my ideas down — how I rehabbed my foot — and spun it in a way that would benefit tricksters most. I filmed videos, took pictures, and created a neat little eBook. The entire process took a bunch of my free time, and I was originally was going to sell it. After all, paying some bucks for information on ankle injury prevention would be worth more than I’d likely even charge for it. We’re talking about not only tricking downtime, but also medical bill uptime. Even a simple copay for a lot of people in America can top $20-30.

But then I thought about the mission at hand. And then I thought about most tricksters, and thought back to when I was a Dragon Ball Z inspired kid doing insanely stupid things in my backyard in the name of tricking, most of which was only possible thanks to Jujimufu — a man willing to give a lot of his free time creating tutorials to help ambitious kids like myself.

And so that’s why I decided that, at least for now, to make A Trickster’s Guide to Ankle Injuries and Strength free. You only pay if you want to pay. You can grab it here via Gumroad (a new retail platform I’m experimenting with). Feel free to put in $0. If my writing has helped you in the past, and you want to donate some money, you put whatever number in the box you feel is right.

Either way, I hope this helps you. I simply ask that, from one trickster to the next, you let each other know about this.

This isn’t the ultimate ankle injury guide, but rather a reflection of my own experiences spun in a way that will benefit you from not only a rehab standpoint (dealing with pre-existing injuries and common treatments, like why you probably shouldn’t use the RICE technique), but also an injury prevention standpoint (there’s a strengthening program to follow). I’m pretty sure that you’ll come away with a different attitude after reading it, and that’s the goal.