Your opponent stares at you. Your reputation is on the line. You entered the ring in a breakdance battle and it’s time to work. But what makes a battler successful? We asked some A-list breakers for their tips on how to fight like a champ.
Longka “M-Pact” Lor
“In a battle, you actually have four opponents: the person in front of you, the judges, the audience and yourself. And you are your main adversary, you have to understand yourself. This is the hardest part. In the break there is a certain way of doing fundamental moves, but being willing to break out of the usual is what gets you noticed. You have to find the best way your body performs each movement, because everyone has different body mechanics. And you can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes turn into originality. Take the moves you fall into and use them.
Longkue “VillN” Lor
Longkue “VillN” Lor (photo by Robert K. Lim, courtesy Lor)
“The best circuit breakers make things easy. And a lot of that is about stamina and endurance. Breaking is such a physically demanding dance form. You should be able to do three to five rounds without losing energy. There are also battle tactics to consider. You have to ask yourself, ‘How can I make this person look like he’s not on my level?’ You need to create a character that no one can step on.
Ana “Rokafella” Garcia
Ana “Rokafella” Garcia (photo by Yu Wadee, courtesy of Garcia)
“It’s a field dominated by men, created by men and often judged by men. When I started as a b-girl, I wanted to hide my femininity. But as I grew up, I learned to accept it. When I judge battles today, I look for the competitor who owns her femininity. Wear the tight pants, wear the lipstick, throw a kiss or be aggressive, if that’s more your style! Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Antonio “Kid Black” Smith
“When I started, people said wait to start fighting until you’ve earned your place in the scene, but I disagree. Dive into it, soak up the culture and feel the atmosphere, no matter how new to the form you are. Never be afraid to show what you’ve got, no matter what your skill level. And know that it’s not always about to win. I enter into battles to inspire and represent my style. Sometimes that means more dancing and less scoring stunts. I know I’ll have a harder time winning if I dance more, but who s I’m here to represent and show that breaking is a precious culture, with or without competition.
Marie “Quenn Mary” Slavova
“Fighting is a game. If you know how to play it, it can be very interesting. People who take it too seriously forget that it’s still performance art, that the point is to share our craft with an audience, so they can enjoy it. It’s a bit like old-fashioned boxing. People who earn a place in history, like Muhammad Ali, are those who enjoy being in battle. They show the public how interesting it can be. They put smiles on our faces.
Tadd Gadduang (photo by isa Tucker, courtesy Gadduang)
“It’s all about courage and perseverance. Everything about this art is intense: the movements, the training, the culture, the personality, what a b-boy stands for. It takes a strong attitude to be successful, and not everyone can handle the rigors. You will practice a move 100 times and miss it 99 times. Then repeat. But that’s the beauty of the form: it doesn’t just teach you cool stunts. It pushes you to persevere in the real world.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of dancing spirit with the title “Battle Ready.”