Anthony Mychal Hybrid Blueprint

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Tricking Saga

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.

Learning Muscle Building, Intermittent Fasting, and Tricking from a Modern Day Norse God

You can’t go wrong with big muscles, long blonde hair, and flash kicks. Chris Kunst — known as Tatsumaru to most — is the modern reincarnation of a Norse God. I’ve known him for a long time and wanted to get him in here to share his ideas.

He’s a fellow intermittent faster, trickster, and strength trainer. His physical transformation is inspiration for skinny kids around the world.

This interview is long, but I’m not going to apologize. Get a cup of coffee and read.

As Mario would say passing someone in Mario Kart, “Hewego” -

1. Can you first give us a little background about yourself?

My name is Chris, online most people know me under the alias of Tats or Tatsumaru — a video game character inspired nickname I picked in early 2004 when I signed up to the Tricks Tutorials Forums.

(Anthony note: Tricks Tutorials Forums no longer exist. I’m apart of a secret underground troop of people that are rebuilding these forums — which are about tricking, strength training, and randomness — for the greater good. You should be excited about this.) 

TT changed my life for the better, as it triggered my interest in training, nutrition and health – and that’s the stuff that keeps me busy on daily basis right now, having decided to study dietetics and all.

I am the author of Storm Tricks and have grown to become very passionate about tricking, strength training, nutrition, metal music and leading an awesome “alternative” lifestyle in general. I am a certified dietitian and am currently striving to combine that with the title of sports dietitian and personal trainer.

I basically enjoy helping people with the subjects close to my heart; training and health. That’s one of the main reasons I like working on my website; it’s a lot fun to help people, and I get a lot of satisfaction from it.

Tatsumaru Flash Kick

2. How and when did you find tricking?

I discovered tricking in early 2004 when a friend of mine (whom I got to know through a few Jiujitsu martial arts classes, which I do not take anymore) linked me to Jujimufu’s and Antoine’s “Scorch” summer 2004 sampler. (Video linked below.) I was fascinated; it completely blew me away. All the cool kicks, flips and twists being tossed by guys that actually looked awesome.

Being a scrawny, frail guy at the time, who was not very happy about his athletic capabilities – I was inspired to turn around my lifestyle in order to become a good tricker. I wanted a better body too.

I read through Tricks Tutorials relatively fast because I was so motivated and inspired. I soon realized all these things – nutrition, flexibility, strength training, rehab, getting an awesome body, etc. – all go hand in hand with becoming a more awesome athlete. I aspired to be one, and still do so to this day.

3. What do you think people need to know about you?

Hmmm, there’s nothing people really “need” to know about me. I’m just a guy passionate about the things he’s doing; training, living healthy and helping people. I am a solo trickster at heart and have a very strong sense of discipline, or a very strong “inner drive” if you will.

I see tricking, training and my general lifestyle as a gateway to becoming closer to a “dream image” of myself. “Becoming a favorite character of yourself”, so to speak. That’s one of the reasons I can keep on doing what I do and be very passionate about it.

I am largely motivated by following said dream images and they influence my life a lot. All of this makes me quite the oddball in social context and modern day society. But it’s what makes me unique in a way, and it has become a strength of mine.

 Tatsumaru Deadlifting

4. How and when did your love for strength training come about?

It rather grew together with my interest in tricking. I actually started getting into “fitness” slightly before I discovered tricking, because I wanted to become bigger. I’ve been a really skinny guy my whole life. I had no knowledge on the topic of growing bigger whatsoever though, just like most people who start out.

When I found out about tricking, I noticed that the people I looked up to the most were into strength training, and I soon realized that expanding my knowledge on the subject a bit would benefit me greatly. I also delved into all the related topics, like nutrition.

Once I started tracking progress – both physique and strength wise – I developed a big passion for strength training. It was another way to push myself and my body, and to shape it closer to the image of my “favorite character”.  The longer you are involved in strength training the more marginal your gains are, but for me every little bit of progress has always meant a lot. It’s like receiving a present you actually wanted.

5. Most people see tricking and are either baffled or scared. They would never fathom getting involved. What was it about tricking that made you say, “I want to do this?”

I was scared when I started tricking too! I crashed a spotted backflip on my face and didn’t dare to attempt any backward trick until a year later, haha.

Anyway, I basically wanted to do something different – I did not like “normal sports” much at all. I was also pretty unsatisfied with my life and didn’t have a lot to “drive” me.

Tricking opened my eyes and sucked me right in upon first discovery. It was new and fresh, exciting, daring, somewhat dangerous even… it was something I needed to make my life more interesting. That’s how I reflect upon it in hindsight. Back then, I guess I just wanted to do it because it looked freaking awesome. Again, in retrospect: I guess you could say tricking filled a certain void in my life.

Tatsumaru Tricking

6. How do you balance strength training and tricking?

It’s not hard at all for me. In mindset, I pretty much prioritize tricking. With that I mean; I care the most about tricking, my sessions and the video I am working for (solo samplers). It’s my main passion and drive. In certain phases my priorities may shift to strength training a bit more – such as having injuries which don’t allow me to trick to full(er) potential, or in the cold seasons when I can’t trick outside as much.

I really prefer grass sessions over gym sessions because I love using the outdoors in my videos. I still have gym sessions and good progress in times of winter though – sometimes even better than in summer, because plyo is an awesome surface to trick and learn on. This has been my general approach the past few years.

I try to combine both as effectively as possible – and I do not skip strength sessions. I love strength training. I kinda go about it like this:

In general, I have 3 strength sessions per week. I focus on compound movements and always incorporate basic essentials like presses, squat, deadlift and weighted chin ups. My training routine changes depending on my goals of course.

If I desire to drop bodyfat, I lower training volume and go for intensity. If I desire to go for a muscle building phase, my workouts are higher in volume. I change my nutrition accordingly.

I always keep a strength log and have some sort of program to follow. I am an organizer and planner, so I enjoy making my own schedules and playing around with new things from time to time. I feel it’s unnecessary to overhaul your routine every 6 weeks or whatever – but incorporating new elements definitely keeps things fun and fresh.

Tricking has always been a spontaneous thing for me; I do not really plan when I trick – unless it is a gym session of course – those being scheduled and all. If the weather is good, I can trick up to 3-5 times per week. I prefer short and “as fresh as possible” sessions; not tricking much longer than 30-60 minutes.

I try to get out when still somewhat fresh, as burning out each session really slows down recovery and I’ve find that to be detrimental to both tricking and strength training progress. Tricking is supposed to be a fun thing for me, and I get out when something just doesn’t work. Sometimes you just have a bad day and you shouldn’t fret too much about it. Leave, come back another day and try again.

I don’t necessarily split strength training and tricking days – IMO there’s no need for separation. (Anthony note: there is no separation.)If I feel I can trick on a strength training day, I just do that. It’s a mood- and time thing; I need to be in the mood to trick and I obviously need enough time. Like I said, tricking is mostly a spontaneous activity for me. If I feel good, I have the time, and the weather is calling me – I will head outside and go trick.

I do have a lot of goals written down for tricking though! I keep a tricking spell book  which basically functions as a logbook for my sampler. In it, I keep track of my sessions and rate them afterwards, I have written down both realistic and unrealistic tricking goals to strive for, etc. Before each session, I usually look up my spell book and write down a few things on my hand so I remember to try and play around with them during the session. They’re usually completely different things, because some days certain tricks just don’t work.

In general – I put a lot of thought and effort into all these things and thoroughly enjoy doing so. I believe that such an active mindset towards tricking/training can really benefit someone’s inner drive. Or maybe the inner drive is something that is unique to certain individuals – I don’t know haha.

I basically love spending so much thought on planning ahead my tricking and strength training. Working on solo samplers is one of the most fun things in life for me – one of my biggest drives. It’s what triggers my urge to trick often. I’ll be like “hey, if I get this combo to work – I’ll have something awesome to add to my sampler” – head out, and trick. And if I’m at work or unable to trick at the current time, I make sure to write it down and try it as soon as I’m able to trick!

 Tatsumaru Viking

7. How do you feel strength training has either helped or hurt your tricking from both a performance and injury standpoint?

Ah yes, interesting question. Strength training has both hurt and helped my tricking. I will explain, starting with HURT.

First off, I have concluded that doing Olympic lifts is not necessary for a regular trickster or guy into getting strong and buff. Duh? I wanted to be cool and do them too. I have gone through many injuries thanks to trying to do them (and increasing weights too fast)  – mostly minor ones and silly small annoyances mind you.

But still; they were minor injuries that would hinder or interfere with my tricking sessions. Staying with strength training basics, meaning; deadlifts, squats, a press, chins and dips – is a solid enough foundation and I’m much less likely to get injured then, I decided for myself. Tricking is injury prone enough as it is, so let’s stay as safe as possible during strength training haha.

Another HURT thing, is training too “hard” during fat loss phases. I wouldn’t cut down on volume enough, and I’d underfeed to realize fat loss of course – so in these times, tricking suffered due to under recovery. One thing I learned from these phases is this; if I want my tricking sessions to be successful, I need to compensate by reducing strength training volume. Rest is important too, and I tend to forget that at times. You can read more about this here in an article I wrote.

At times I wonder; how would my tricking be if I just tricked, like so many other tricksters? I don’t really have the luxury to a gym many days a week like a lot of awesome tricksters do, but what if I did? Does my “bigger” frame (I’m not huge but bigger than most trickers) hinder my tricking? The truth is; I’ll never know. And frankly, I don’t really care about it, since I love strength training anyway. When tricking is over for me (as in; the body cannot handle it anymore) I’m sure I’ll keep on weight training.

Now, how has it HELPED me? In a lot of ways, thankfully!

For one, strength training is partly like a bodily rehab to me. If I don’t do strength training, I get minor aches and annoyances. Proper strength training can be very therapeutic, I believe. I need it, and love doing it.

Besides that, it has helped me mentally. It improved my self-image; I look better, I feel better, I trick better. Strength training basically helps me get closer to my dream image, which I talked about before. I want to be a buff trickster – so through strength training (and proper nutrition, etc.) – I can achieve these goals. This is basically one of the most important things to me and really keeps me going.

And I also suppose that strength training has made me stronger, more explosive and all that, haha.

tats

8. Tell us one thing we don’t know about you.

There’s probably tons of things you don’t know about me haha! I am a terrible sleeper and this has probably robbed me of potential awesome gains. I recommend everyone to have good sleep habits  I’m still working on it after many years. The past few months I’ve been getting there. And I’ve been feeling much better.

9. Lately, you’ve gone to intermittent fasting as your primary nutritional strategy. Care to explain a bit about your current diet and training?

Yes, I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting for about 1.5 years now – having found out about it halfway 2011. It’s been one of the best things I’ve discovered nutrition-wise, and that’s also coming from someone who almost religiously ate 6 times a day, spread protein intake evenly, etc. etc. etc…

I don’t believe it’s for everyone, but a lot of people can benefit from it and I’d encourage everyone to at least try it, before criticizing it (although I can see why someone would – I’ve been there). It’s convenient, it’s healthy if done properly, and most of all – it’s fun as hell! I have come to love the big meals I get to consume.

I’ve experimented a bit with different IF approaches, but usually come back to Martin Berkhan’s classic Leangains approach (16 hour fast / 8 hour feeding window). I am quite flexible with my fast and often end up fasting longer than 16 hours – especially during fatloss phases I like increasing my fast-time and having 2 bigger meals instead of 3.

Currently I’m doing a lean bulk after a long fat loss phase. My strategies are the same though; caloric surplus on training days, and a deficit on rest days (a much smaller deficit than when dieting for fatloss of course!). In general; an enjoyable diet. I am quite an active person and bike a lot for transport, so can get away with eating a bit more, which is fun for me.

A higher protein intake is more crucial on rest days I believe; I like to eat at least 2-2.5 g/kg. Seeing as I’m in a caloric surplus on training days and muscle loss is not likely, I stress less about protein. I still try to hit 160-200 grams, and often end up higher anyway haha. I try to enjoy my carbs furiously on training days, seeing as I keep fat intake pretty low in general.

When dieting for fatloss, I believe there’s some benefits in going pretty lowcarb (<150 grams). For maintenance or bulk phases, I like to use 150-250 grams of carbs. An amount that keeps me sane and keeps the diet fun. On training days I go anywhere from 400-600 grams of carbs depending on how active I was that day.

I like training fasted whenever I can fit it into my schedule. I personally use BCAA’s for fasted training, but I do admit it’s more of a mental safeguard for me than anything. I eat my biggest meals after training; sometimes that’s a 1500 kcal meal, sometimes 2500 kcal, and very rarely it’s a one meal a day type approach where I go for 3000-3500 kcal. Those are challenging and shouldn’t be done too often, haha.

I’m a calorie counter myself, but only because it can be done very quickly nowadays, through handy calorie applications on smartphones and all. A rough estimate is what I go for anyway – I like steering my daily nutrition intake from there. I also like planning my meals ahead; I often think about my next post workout meal and look forward to it haha. Makes training even more fun and rewarding.

Don’t become too obsessed with that though; I’ve been there during an extreme cut-phase. I was basically living for my postworkout meal because I was lowcarbing too much and destroying my sanity through it. Don’t go there!

One other pitfall of IF I have developed personally, and I’d like to warn people about, is this: I have sometimes noticed I purposely do extra work so I can eat extra amounts. Simply because I really enjoy the meals I prepare haha. I advise people to not go there; it’s a danger zone!

Some final take away points. Prioritize protein intake. Eat tons of vegetables, they rule. Enjoy yourself at (social) eating/dining events and use the “caloric buffer” IF so easily provides well – it’s a great strategy to reduce damage. Experiment a lot with your meals and don’t eat bland stuff – IF can be fun as hell. Don’t stress too much about details – they do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Be active or productive during your fast. Plan ahead a bit, and learn to become a good nutrition improviser. Invest time in “knowing” foods. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re doing it wrong.

Tatsumaru Eating

10. To finish up, what advice would you give a beginning trickster from both a tricking and training point of view?

Set goals for yourself; something to drive you. If you want to get good at something and have found some sort of goal; learn about it and the subjects surrounding it.

For example; proper nutrition plays a huge (main) role in recovery, in what happens to your body (build muscle, lose fat), etc. – invest some time in learning about it, and put that knowledge to use! It will be worth it. Another example; learning an aerial. Maybe it’s dynamic flexibility you need to be working on, if you keep on crashing it because you don’t seem to be flexible enough. Spend some time reading how to effectively improve dynamic flexibility in that scenario! Oh, and put that knowledge to use again – otherwise it won’t help you much haha.

I’m really encouraging everyone to LEARN more OUTSIDE of the training sessions – never stop learning, wondering and questioning things! J Have a positive, curious and open mind!

Lastly, be patient. Progress takes time, and tricking has a steep learning curve. That’s why I would advise optimizing everything around tricking while working on tricks. Work on your flexibility, get your diet in check, read up on how to properly strength train and recover, etc. It might just have a very positive carry over effect to your tricks, and you might end up enjoying those “side subjects” very much! That’s how it went for me at least, hehe!

-

Thanks Tats. Was a pleasure.

Questions for Tats?

Drop ‘em below!

How to Start Tricking in 10 Easy Steps

It changed my life forever.

I had no formal experience. No martial arts training. No gymnastics training. No training facilities. No safety training.

Nothing.

Just a bed of grass and an itch to do some insanely cool shit.

Tricking—short for “martial arts tricking”—permeated my pores like poison. There was something about the aesthetic blend of flips, kicks, and twists that hypnotized me.

Most everyone sees tricking as this offshoot activity—something they would and could never get involved with. Maybe they think they’re not good enough. Maybe they’re afraid.

But everyone should trick. (You’ll learn a thing or two about yourself and the world, trust me.) Starting is easy; it’s not as scary or as tough as it seems. Just decide and dive.

This guide will show you how.

THE BACKYARD MINDSET – WHY TRICK?

Tricking is more than doing insanely cool shit. Sure, doing a cartwheel without hands is awesome, but it has a host of benefits:

  • It forces you to up your mobility and flexibility game.
  • It teaches you movement and how to orchestrate your body in a coordinated manner.
  • It replaces plyometrics. You can keep doing your depth jumps. I’ll be flipping, kicks, and twisting in the air – having fun and developing my physical abilities simultaneously.
  • It teaches you kinesthetic awareness. You don’t appreciate this until you land on your face unexpectedly though.
  • It trains you mentally. For every physical barrier you overcome, you overcome three mental barriers.
  • It teaches you how to visualize success and movement in your mind, which helps overall performance.
  •  It turns you into a backyard athlete.

All of this sounds wonderful. Right? But I know what you’re thinking…

“I don’t have any experience, so I can’t trick. It’s too dangerous!”

DO YOU NEED ANYTHING TO TRICK?

My brother once said that soccer was a good sport because all you need is shin guards, shoes, and a soccer ball to practice. Compared to other sports, that’s a pretty reasonable equipment list.

But tricking wins out, because you only need your bare feet and a bed of grass. Bad economy? Bad excuse.

(Going barefoot is more necessity than cosmetic. There’s something stimulating about having a strong sensory connection with the ground. Shoes not only slip, but also add unnecessary bulk. Most tricks benefit from less weight carried on the extremities.)

Despite what your intuition might tell you, you don’t need formal experience in martial arts, gymnastics, or acrobatics.

A lot of people—scrawny teenagers included—train for tricking with no experience. (I was one of them.) They are known as backyard tricksters.

And it’s actually better this way.

It forces you to be diligent and progressive. You take training for tricking just as serious as tricking, which means you’re more likely to take care of your body and not do anything too stupid.

Stupid I say?

But isn’t it all stupid and dangerous without experience?

IT’S TOO SCARY AND DANGEROUS, ISN’T IT?

From the outside, tricking seems scary. Very scary. Hell, I broke my foot tricking. Four out of five metatarsals. And an avulsion fracture of the big toe for icing.

But despite the absolute madness that can be witnessed in some YouTube videos, the reality is that everyone starts out at the same, novice, clueless step.

Everyone stretches. Everyone practices the basics. Everyone has a little fear. Everyone crashes. Everyone gets a few bumps. Everyone gets some souvenir scars.

Tricking isn’t a bungee jump; it’s a set of stairs. You don’t suddenly extend beyond your comfort zone.

Tricking can and should start basic.

Everyone can benefit from basic. Learning how to do forward rolls, backward rolls, handstands, cartwheels, and other tumbling skills is something that should be on everyone’s “to learn” list for life fitness let alone tricking.

If there’s an underrated skill, it’s being able to break yourself from a fall or rolling end over end. And if you want a quick and dirty test of athleticism, do a cartwheel with straight legs. Few things intertwine mobility, flexibility, coordination, and kinestheic awareness quite like it.

Want to know how I — a skinny-fat kid with absolutely no experience — started tricking?

With the kip-up—the most innocent trick in existence. Here’s a little story about my beginnings:

Voluntarily concussing yourself is a strange behavior at the age of thirteen. But I’d just discovered “tricking,” and I wanted in. The kip-up was the gateway. It had minimal injury risk (my head would reveal otherwise…), low equipment needs (a carpeted floor was all), and was said to be “simple.”

(But when you’re first learning, nothing is simple. Or so you come to find out…)

And so every day after school I practiced. And every day after school, I got the wind knocked out of me. But I kept trying. Day after day. I wanted this trick.

About one month later, my friend Tyler landed the kip-up. Then Jeff landed it.

I was a loner.

My skinny-fat self struggled. I was self-conscious too. I wore two shirts when we practiced as a group. The undershirt was tucked in. I didn’t want anyone to see my stomach. (Skinny-fat woes.)

But slowly out of this sole trick, obsession was born. Life went on hold.

A few friends stayed over my place in tenth grade to work on a school project. Ten minutes into things we ditched the school work and practiced kip-ups. We hung out every week, and no matter the circumstances, we practiced. We even threw tricks on a slanted driveway in the winter.

Dangerous?

Absolutely.

But we didn’t care. We just engrossed ourselves in tricking and we wanted to get better.

This was my “childhood.” This is what brought me into the fitness space. And this is why tricking integral part of my life.

THE BASIC (AND NOT SCARY) TRICKING FITNESS ELEMENTS

Since tricking is sister to gymnastics and brother to martial arts, it borrows a lot of skills from both of these disciplines.

  • Flexibility plays a huge role in tricking. Not just from an ease of performance standpoint, but also from a cosmetic standpoint. Although tricking holds philosophical meaning to some, it’s still rooted in creating visually stunning movement. The crisper, flashier, and aesthetically pleasing trickster will always be better than someone of equal (or greater) talent that has sloppy technique. In the tricking world, the former person would be referenced as having “clean” tricks.
  • I should note, however, that technique is also largely individual. Unlike gymnastics and other formal sports, tricking thrives on the incorporation of personal style and flare. Points aren’t deducted for doing things differently, and in some instances, it’s encouraged. This makes tricking a breath of fresh air as it allows for true self expression.
  • The type of flexibility needed for tricking is called dynamic flexibility. Dynamic flexibility is the ability to actively move a muscle about its joint, which is different than the standard sit-and-reach-esque stretching you’re likely familiar with.
  • Sinking into a stretch and holding one position for an extended period of time is known as static stretching. Although static stretching can benefit dynamic flexibility and subsequently tricking, dynamic flexibility is the priority. (Especially to prevent hamstring and groin pulls on kicking tricks.)
  • Basic kicking ability is important. The martial arts roots are what separate tricking from most other forms of freestyle acrobatics. Keep in mind, however, you don’t have to be a martial artist to trick. Most tricksters teach themselves the basic martial arts kicks, such as front kicks, side kick, hook kicks, and crescent-style kicks.
  • Reactive ability, although not necessary from the start, is a key component of tricking. Being explosive and quick on your feet defines a good trickster. Unlike most other characteristics, however, this usually develops naturally over time by virtue of the progressive nature of the sport. Training for it separately can overtax the body and put your priorities in the wrong place.
  • Mental strength is the unsung hero among the clam and clatter. Although tricking is hugely physical, the high flying moves are only made possible if fear can be tamed. The first hurdle is usually the backflip, although moves become ever more complex over time. The mental battle never really ends.

It’s the perfect cherry on top of training to be a backyard athletic badass.

LEARNING THE BASIC TRICKING CLASSES

Watching tricking videos on YouTube is deceiving. Everyone is out to showcase their best, wildest stuff. But it’s much “easier” when tricks are  broken down into their classes.

Although the logistics aren’t written in stone, there are a few basic categories that each trick falls into. Each category has “basic” tricks that serve as the starting point and gateway for more advanced tricks.

Aerial-based tricks are no-handed cartwheel-esque tricks. The earliest progression in this category is the two handed cartwheel itself. After two handed cartwheels become comfortable, one hand is used. From there, speed and crispness are emphasized while trying to ditch both hands.

Kicking-based tricks separate tricking from the rest of extreme underground sports. This category starts with the tornado kick and 360 crescent kick. With the addition of twists and subtleties, these moves turn into the 540 and the 540 hook/crescent (sometimes called a cheat 720 kick).

Twisting-based tricks borrow unique moves from Wushu, specifically the butterfly kick and twist. Eventually, however, twisting elements weasel into nearly every trick.

Flipping-based tricks start with the backflip and frontflip, although the backflip is much more important. Of all categories, flips are the most mentally taxing. Like twisting, however, flipping tricks make their way into a lot of more advanced moves. It’s important to conquer fear of flipping early to ensure smooth progress.

Other tricks that don’t necessarily fit into the above categories also make their way into the sport. Some from other forms of martial arts, others from different forms of acrobatics. For instance, one of the basic tricks, the doubleleg, has roots in capoeira.

HOW TO START TRICKING IN 10 STEPS

Advanced tricking techniques appear daunting, but the beauty of tricking is its progressive nature. By starting at the bottom, you rarely extend beyond your comfort zone. Don’t forget: all it takes is one sunny day to get going.

Here are some suggestions for starting:

  • First, simply stretch outside on a warm day. Remove your shoes and feel the grass in between your toes. Start off with some dynamic stretching: front leg lifts, back leg lifts, side leg lifts, trunk rotations, and arm swings. This will warm-up the hips enough to start practicing basic martial arts kicks like the hook kick, inside crescent kick, and outside crescent kicks. (See my Tricking Inspired Warm-Up.)
  • Second, do some locomotor exercises in your workouts like bear crawls, inch worm walks, and other things that get you used to unconventional training.
  • Third, incorporate some basic tumbling in your workouts. Forward rolls, backward rolls, shoulder rolls, handstands, and all of these goodies will prepare you for chucking your body through space in a slightly unconscious manner.
  • Fourth, study videos online to fully understand form. There are great resources out there. Tricks Tutorials has been a mainstay of great information and walkthroughs. Trick Training is my second website that might be worth taking a look at too, but it will eventually be merged with the lovely website you’re reading now.
  • Fifth, work on your basic kicks. Juji has some great tutorials and videos about dynamic flexibility on his website. You’re looking for the inside and outside crescent kicks. (Note: There are also hook kicks and roundhouse kicks. I suggest either picking crescent style — straight leg — or hook/round style — bent leg — for starters. Don’t overload yourself. Once you learn one set the other set is easier to learn anyway.)
  • Sixth, find a friend. It’s always funner with a friend.
  • Seventh, dive into your acrobatic side and throw some cartwheels, tornado kicks, and 360 crescents. These moves are the foundation, and fear shouldn’t be much of an issue. Don’t dismiss their importance. For some people, builds the confidence needed to advance.
  • Eighth, get serious. Go to the tutorials section of Tricks Tutorials. Print out the following: 360 Crescent and Tornado Kick. Might as well grab the aerial while you’re there as cartwheels will be feeling easy. Practice these things a few times every week. Video tape yourself and evaluate your form against others. Pause the video to check your body position. Really analyze things.
  • Ninth, (this occurs simultaneously with eight), develop a stretching routine. Dynamic stretch every morning. Static-passive stretch nightly. Do whatever static-passive stretches help both splits. Pick one or two stretches per big muscle group. While you’re at it, grab my kip-up tutorial. Practice it daily.
  • Tenth, stretch, land the  kip-up, land the other basics. Become addicted.

CONCLUSION

Perhaps the most beneficial reason to start tricking has nothing to do with anything physical. Tricking transforms you to become a backyard athlete. You learn how to evaluate your form. Fix your own mistakes. Train for yourself. Train by yourself.

Most importantly, it’s all about you. It’s such a young sport that a lot of it is self-discovery. There are no guru to yell at you. It’s just you. Whatever works for you…well..works for you. No one is there to berate you or tell you otherwise. No one is there to force you down a certain path.

And then you share your findings with your friends!

This is the best part about tricking: everyone accepts that everyone is different and that different things work for different people. Imagine if the fitness industry took that mentality! (One can only dream…)

With tricking, you discover your own potential.

Tricking changed my life.

Will you let it change yours?

Learn How to Jump Higher…While Flipping Upside Down (Another Free eBook)

You learn a lot suspended in mid-air with your head closer to the ground than any other body part.

To some, doing flips, kicks, and twists — the wonderful thing we call “tricking” — in the air is “crazy.” Maybe even superhuman.

But, truly, tricking is humbling.

Because no matter how much of an expert you are, there’s always a chance of failure. There’s always a chance of having a mental lapse and crashing. There’s always a chance of breaking five bones in your foot.

I’m lucky to have grown up with tricking. It was a baby when I found it (still is, really). Part of me wants to admit that tricking has taught me more about fitness, athletics, psychology, and philosophy than any book could. And these are things that—I want to say—I would never find in a book. Even though I probably could. But at this point in my life I’m not sure I would even read it even if I found it.

Eckhart Tolle once said, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” For me, “life” should be replaced with “tricking” in that sentence. The cliffnotes of this evolution would look something like:

  • Tricking helped me understand the value of “play” over competition.
  • Tricking helped me understand movement. So when I’m rolling around, stretching my hip flexors, and hanging out in squat, I’m doing it because I know what it’s like to have movement stolen from you. It isn’t fun.
  • Tricking helped me understand the relationship between specific strength movements and specific athletic movements.
  • Tricking helped me understand skill acquisition by trying to learn tricks on the non-dominant side.
  • Tricking helped me understand and embrace failure. You can say it was a painful learning experience, as “failure” often means scraping yourself from the grass. But if you’re afraid of trying new techniques, you won’t learn.
  • Tricking helped me understand sharing experimental findings with a community, even if they weren’t universally applicable. They weren’t really expected to apply to everyone because everyone had different preferences, proportions, and peculiarities.
  • Tricking helped me understand the relationship between strength training and athletics. Most strength work requires tension. Most sports require relaxation. Imagine swinging around chain links as opposed to cracking a whip. So it’s important to hop back and forth between mentalities, never letting one get too dominant in the other’s world.

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited to say that I’m officially launching Trick Training. The website you’re on now, AnthonyMychal.com, will continue to be updated regularly, so don’t worry about that. This place remains a safe haven for my brain’s scribbles on general athletic fitness pursuits, nutrition, and all of that fun stuff. Perhaps in the future, it will be a bit more personal and even showcase some food shenanigans I get myself involved into. (What do you know, I happen to have a sweet video of the likes below!)

Trick Training is a specific hub for those that want to learn about basic tricking and training for tricking. I’m still a little unsure about how I’m going to bridge the gap between the two websites, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out as I go. All that I know is that I had some trick-specific bits that I felt I needed to do justice to and that turning this place into a full blown tricking town wasn’t the way to go.

One of those tricking bits is how the vertical jump, and jumping higher in general, relates to better tricking. (Or does it?) With other (bad) programs out and about, I wanted to throw my own opinion out there in hopes that tricksters can continue to train safely and injury free and learn the role of the vertical jump in tricking. (More on this soon…)

Since Trick Training is a brand new website, there’s a brand new update service. Just like on AnthonyMychal.com, if you throw in your e-mail you get access to:

  • Absolutely free website updates, so you never miss a post.
  • Early releases of premium content (as I did with The 242 Method and The Myth of HIIT).
  • Catching Air: The Truth About Developing, Using, and Transforming the Vertical Jump for Sky High Tricks

Catching Air is yet another free eBook I’m shooting out into the world. (This is the third one so far, if you’re keeping count.) It’s about the vertical jump as it relates to tricking, and what’s inside may surprise you. It’s absolutely free and given as a perk for signing up for free updates.

So if you’re interested in tricking, or perhaps any of the content that might appear on trick training, here’s what you should do:

1) Sign-up for the newsletter and get your free copy of Catching Air (CLICK HERE for direct access to the sign-up page).

2) Throw the RSS feed into your reader (if you’re into that sort of thing)

3) Like it on Facebook.

That should be enough to keep you in the loop.

And if it’s not something you’re interested in, that’s cool too. I respect that, which is why AnthonyMychal.com will still kick it regularly.

I’m glad you’re here, and I hope to see you over at my second home, Trick Training.

Thanks for the support everyone.

Become Superhuman – Learn How to Backflip in Less than Thirty Minutes

The backflip is a whore. It’s appealing until you find out how easy it is to take advantage of. And if you’re dilligent, the whole “taking advantage of” thing won’t take longer than thirty minutes of solid practice.

You don’t need a massive vertical jump. You don’t need freak strength. You just need technical knowledge, friends, and cojones.

So take some action. Your path to superhuman awaits.

TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE

Before you think about flipping end over end, have a mental plan. Know the technical aspects of the backflip. Study this tutorial from Jujimufu. Understand the move from every angle possible.

It isn’t about jumping backwards, I can tell you that. Don’t do that unless you’re looking for a disability check in the mail.

Memorize the technique and  visualize yourself performing it perfectly. Onward.

FRIENDS

Find two able body friends. Disinterested Mothers and Fathers aren’t ideal. Not only aren’t they the strongest candidates, but they also aren’t big fans of perceived potential neck breaking activities. (Even though the backflip is rather safe, especially when using this technique.)

So get two people that are strong enough to carry you. And then teach them how to backflip. Force them to read the tutorial. Discuss it over coffee. They are your safe net. It’s your responsibility to get people you know and trust to help you do this safely.

COJONES

With backflips, there are no prerequisite fear abolishers. It’s kind of a “just do it” move.

Using a spotter is a great idea. But even then, you still have to muster the courage to chuck the flip. Luckily, I have a fool proof method that will have you flipping within a half hour using your two volunteer friends. They take away the fear, which is why this technique is so effective.

STEP ONE

Have a spotter on each side—one to the left, one to the right. Have them put one hand on your lower back and the other on your hamstrings. From here, have them lift you up so that your legs don’t touch the ground. (It looks like you’re sitting in a chair.)

None of your body is touching the ground, which why you need strong spotters.

Extend your hands over your head. Have the spotters lean your body back so that your hands touch the ground, and once they do, tell them to throw your legs over your head.

This is an extremely spotted back handspring — not ideal, but it gets you familiar with the feeling of going backwards.

Repeat this  step until you’re comfortable with the process — it shouldn’t feel “scary.”

STEP TWO

Add a small dip and jump to the processes of Step One.

Have the spotters latched onto your lower back and hamstrings at all times. But instead of having them lift and toss you, provide a little leg push from the ground as you extend your arms up and over your head.

The spotters still end up supporting you in mid air and tossing your legs over your head.

Keep your arms extended above your head during the entire movement to support against the ground if needed.

STEP THREE

Step three is the same as two, except with more leg drive.

Instead of keeping the arms extended above your head, swing them down and up with your jump. (Last step was all leg push, this step integrates arms into the jump.)

Again, spotters cradle the entire movement and essentially “hold” you. There’s no need for fear.

Because you’re using more leg drive, you’ll get more height. Stop putting your hands on the ground during this step.  So after they swing up for the jump, keep them near your head for personal peace of mind. But after realizing you’re no where near landing on your head, try to make the movement smoother.

Abandoning the arms teaches you to jump up and not back. Using the hands at first is fine for the fear. But the backflip is a jump up in the air. So getting into the jump back habit isn’t good. The earlier you ditch it, the better off you are.

STEP FOUR

More jump and more arm swing. Focus on jumping up and actively tucking your legs to your chest on the flip. Don’t use, or even think about using, your hands for support. Don’t use them for “protection.”

If your spotters made it this far, you’re not going to land on your head. They still cradle the entire movement.

Swing your arms down, swing them back up, jump up, and tuck our knees to your chest.

STEP FIVE

The spotters remain, but their role decreases. They still support your lower back and hamstrings, but they should only flip your legs over your head after you initiate the jump and flip.

You really want to focus on doing the flip yourself.

Dip, swing your arms down (warn your spotters that you’ll likely hit their arms), and jump in the air. You should be landing your flip, and your friends should be helping less and less with every go.

STEP SIX

From a physical standpoint, your spotters are ghosts. Their arms are only contacting your body to give you a mental edge. They are spotting still, yes, but only if you decide to bail mid-flip.

Groove some backflips. When you stick them consistently, have your spotters remove the constant contact on your hamstrings. The lower back support stays.

Your spotters should help flip your legs over if needed, but the goal of this stage is to remove one of the physical contacts.

STEP SEVEN

Remove one spotter.

The remaining spotter keeps a hand on your lower back throughout the movement. The other spotter will be there, but with no body contact, helping only if needed.

STEP EIGHT

Both spotters will spot, but neither has pre-takeoff contact with your body.

STEP NINE

Remove one spotter completely. Keep the other on whichever side is most comfortable without pre-takeoff contact.

STEP TEN

Remove both spotters.

You are now free.

CONCLUSION

There’s something comforting and calming when both your lower back and hamstrings are supported with a spotter. It’s a safety net that mentally signifies someone being there to catch you. And with two people, it makes it much safer.

And if that isn’t convincing enough, here’s a silly video of myself from years ago landing one of my first backflips:

So what do YOU say? Are you going to try it? Do you have the friends? The cojones?

Are you going to take one step closer to superhuman?

I’d love to hear what you think, so drop some questions below.

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Photo Credit: Mitch Lee of Fresh Fox Apparel