Excalibur’s Wayne Hudson investigates the sport of tricking, and the York students who are bringing it to a university near you

Wayne Hudson
Sports & Health Editor


Don’t die!”
Vaios Skretas has done this every day for as long as he can remember. But his body still invokes those two words of warning, as he lies in inverted escape. Less than a second ago, Skretas’ legs firmly stood on the ground of the grassy area outside of Vanier College beside the basketball courts.
Now, mid-way through a continuous corkscrew, he backflips with a full twist off of one leg, seizing more momentum with each flip, going into another, and another. Students’ eyes in the distance turn sharply to the grassy area, staring intently. Clear words of a tutorial leader’s disdain trail off to mumbles of gibberish, silence, and “What the fuck?!” Many bystanders fumble into their purses and pockets, searching for the record button on their smartphones.
Coming out of a fifth cork, landing on the ground firmly with two feet again, a grin plasters Skretas’ face. Walking over to the supportive snickers and smiles of his friends and fellow trickers: Yusuf Ahmed, Kyle Friedberg, and Nicco Miranda, spectators’ stares turn into confirmation blinks, and silence turns into “FUCK MAN! He just did a back flip!”
With the sun shining bright, and the temperature in the low double digits, the crew seizes the opportunity to defy gravity as they have been indoors and earthbound for most of the winter season, lying in wait. They’ve been waiting for the sport, or rather the lifestyle of tricking.
Tricking is a sport that incorporates the basic techniques of gymnastics, martial arts, and breakdancing. But more importantly, it is an art form that can be interpreted as with any piece, play, or performance.
“Tricking is about expression,” says Ahmed, “expressing what you feel inside through martial arts, gymnastics, and break dancing. Just a mix of all of those. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
Emerging in the early 2000s, tricking has started to make a name for itself.  It is currently growing in the underground community, and in the public, with the sport being mentioned on ESPN, notes Ahmed.
“It’s in music videos. I think,”—he groans—“Justin Bieber tricked in one of his videos and in Tron: Legacy it was really big, with one of the henchmen, Rinzler, being played by one of the biggest trickers in the world,” says Skretas. With international gatherings in the spring and winter seasons and other meetings planned in between, the tricking population is only increasing.
“This isn’t a very competitive sport,” explains Miranda. “We’re not in it to be the best. Everyone is each others’ cheerleaders and fans, and we just want everyone to get better as a cohesive unit. I’ve never experienced anything like this. This is just the most family-oriented group of people I have ever known in my life.”
The training process can be frustrating and lengthy, explains the crew, with basic prerequisites—technique, strength, and footwork—needed before a performance. They stress the importance of training smart in gyms with mats and spring floors, even though not all of them took that approach.
“I didn’t even know about open gyms until a year and a half after I started, so I just straight up did it on grass the entire time.” says Friedberg.
“I’m kinda in the same boat,” explains Miranda. “It took me six months to learn how to do a backflip. And that’s just from pulling mattresses off beds and hucking it.”
All of these trickers learned  from the instruction of online videos. Specifically the ones with training tips that explain different elements like the importance of ankles, strengthening, and proper take off and landing. Despite the different approaches taken by each of them, learning relies on progression when working towards a specific trick or move.
“It really sort of reaches its peak once you land it,” says Miranda. “There’s really no feeling like having your feet touch ground without using your hands or falling over, it’s indescribable—it’s better than sex.”
With the essence of tricking lying in expression, it can quickly evolve from a hobby into a lifestyle that is invigorating, comforting, and always waiting to be unleashed. Breakdancing being one of the roots of this way of life highlights the importance of music for these artists.
“Oh yes, music is a big part of it,” answers Miranda. “Even in the editing and just blasting it in the gym—I’ll hear a good song and I’ll think ‘Okay, I’m gonna throw what I’m going to throw, even if I land on my face.’ It’s how you become not scared anymore.”
For now, the Tricker Friends are looking to start a tricking club next year at York, showing their bright colours, devilish grins, and crazy flips at next year’s YorkFest. And most importantly, says Freidberg, looking to the new next few months of 2012:
“Every year­—I wait for the summer and then I just explode.”


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