We forked out the cash. We attended his workshop. We scribbled down and compiled his lessons just so you can read this. He’s Leon from Fusion MC, the bboy who beat Issei at Red Bull BC One Asia Pacific.
(If you didn’t know, Fusion MC stands for Fusion Minds Crew.)
We were lucky enough to get a private workshop with Bboy Leon, where he taught for 2 hours on creativity and how HE comes up with his unique style and flava.
Here are the 11 lessons we’ve learnt from the Red Bull APAC champion Bboy Leon. So read on and learn from one of Asia’s champions.
11 Incredible Takeaways From Bboy Leon’s Workshop
Practice Maximum Control Over All Your Freezes
That’s Leon above, by the way. No doubt he is really great at freezes. But he’s on another level. Unlike him, most of us are more like this:
We have our foundational freezes down pat…
We always crash when we have to stack or do a combination of them.
Do you want to know the reason why we are unable to stick them?
Because we have rarely practiced full control over his freezes before.
Being able to hold your freezes well — and being able to control them is very important to Leon.
In fact, being able to do a stack from baby freeze -> elbow freeze (head off the ground) -> handstand and reverse everything again IS Leon’s foundation. This “basic stack” is the criteria for being a Fusion MC member (of course, there’s more than that, but this is just one.)
(Fun fact: That’s the minimum requirement to make it into a Fusion MC audition.)
Not only must you be able to do that stack well (i.e transitions), you must also be able to hold each freeze for about 1-3 seconds before transitioning into the next freeze.
Now… That is what we call MAXIMUM control over your freezes.
(And yea, if you’re wondering what it takes to be world-class, you’re merely skimming the surface.)
So, I’m not going to leave you crying and moaning that you’re not at the level of a world-class bboy.
You CAN achieve this.
Here’s your action step.
Practice the freeze stack introduced by Bboy Leon religiously. The stacks are:
Baby freeze -> Elbow Freeze (head off the floor) -> Handstand -> Elbow Freeze (head off the floor) -> Baby Freeze
You MUST hold each freeze for at least 2 seconds before you transit into the next freeze.
During the workshop, Leon wanted us to come up with some new moves or movements and show it to him in a group cypher.
This is the period usually where everyone begins to panic.
Because everyone has an innate desire to not embarrass themselves in front of anyone, let alone a world-class bboy like Leon.
It is the moment where everyone either wanted to shine and impress Leon… or create a move sufficient enough to make Leon gloss over them.
This is ALSO the moment where people begin to overthink.
They begin to censor themselves and filter the moves.
While in the process of creating, their minds will go “this isn’t good enough. Scrap.” “This will embarrass me, discard.”
The problem with this…
This overthinking and mental filtering CAUSES you to be less creative.
Creativity is not an a-ha moment like what many people think it is.
It is not about deducing the mathematical formula and running out of your house naked.
Instead, creativity is simply about throwing out 100 ideas (good or bad) and then selecting only the gems.
You CANNOT think creativity out.
You MUST do.
You MUST try.
You must keep on trying and trying and trying (x 100) UNTIL you get something you like.
As legendary artist Chuck Close once said:
“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
That is how creativity really works.
For your next session, don’t sit down and think about whether your moves will work. Just keep throwing down your ideas (no matter how weird, wack or crazy you secretly think it is), and then review and select the good ones.
Work On Your Flexibility
How many of us bemoan over our lack of flexibility and DO nothing about it?
I have seen many of them like this.
Too many, in fact.
I am not naturally flexible either.
While I am able to open my legs wide enough to do power… I am no Brahim.
(To give you an idea of my flexibility, I can’t even lotus.)
So, my current flexibility level was TRAINED. Purely from effort, practice and persistence. 0% natural.
And guess what?
Before the workshop started, Leon spent a good 20 – 30 minutes on stretching.
Leon insists that FLEXIBILITY is one of the most important things in breaking. He says that once you reach a certain level of flexibility, you’ll be able to do powermoves easier.
And also, you’ll open a whole new level of movement that was previously locked for you when you’re more flexible.
So, do it. Start practicing your flexibility.
Begin stretching more often (minimally 3x) every week (even if you’re not practicing.) Make it a habit to stretch often.
Stretch to cool down after practice (every bboy I’ve met will NOT do this.)
You should see your flexibility improve by leaps and bounds.
Invert, Always Invert
Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi was a 19th century German mathematician who made HUGE contributions to the field of mathematics.
Some of his contributions were in the field of elliptic functions, dynamics, differential equations and number theory. Most of us have barely heard of these terms.
My point? He’s a goddamned productive genius. And he has something to offer us bboys and bgirls.
One of his maxims was “man muss immer umkehren”, which translates as “invert, always invert.”
What does this mean?
It was Carl’s belief that the solution of many difficult problems can be clarified (or even found) if you re-express them in inverse form.
It is to basically re-express problems in terms of things you have NOT been doing. Knowing what you haven’t been doing helps you see how much (or how little) you’ve done, how you have been approaching a subject or topic (which hasn’t been working well for you recently).
Essentially, if you look at your problem from the inverse lens…. You will learn and observe something entirely new.
And that was what Leon taught.
Many a times a bboy plateaus because he doesn’t get out of his comfort zone. He uses the same style, the same concepts, the same moves, the same movements every single time he breaks.
The best way to break out of this is to think and practise differently.
Simply by inverting your process.
Do the opposite of what you always do.
If you usually footwork in one direction, try doing footwork in another direction.
If you do a combo in a certain manner, try reversing that combo.
Or it could be as simple as…
If you always do power, DO FOOTWORK.
If you always do footwork, DO POWER!
As simple as that.
For your next practice, don’t do anything you usually practice. If you are a powermover, do footwork. If you’re a “stylehead”, do power.
See what happens
It’s Not Always About The Complexity
As bboys, we have a tendency to think complex is good.
We think more is better. We think that by stacking as many moves as possible into our sets will make us dope.
But that’s not true.
While complexity has its place to serve in breaking…
It is not the CRUX of developing your own moves.
Instead, it’s all about the “how”.
How you do a move is much more important than what you do.
Just take a look at Leon:
While Leon does incorporate complexity in his sets (e.g threading, flexibility etc.)…
A lot of his moves LOOK GOOD because he makes it so.
Even the way he does his freeze stacks looks good.
Not only does he practice maximum control over his freezes, he also ensures that what he is doing looks good and presentable.
As Einstein once puts it:
A lot of times when we practice, we use our intuition and feelings. While that has a place in how you practice and how you construct your style, it would also help if you were to record yourself and see how it looks like.
In the next session, take a video of yourself doing your moves or running your sets. You will be able to spot everything you need to correct to make them look more presentable.
When Everyone Zigs, You Zag
Windmill to Flare.
In fact, you will see this exact combo in most of the battle videos you watch. Which means almost every bboy in the world who is trying to compete and make a name of themselves can do this move.
And this is exactly Leon’s point.
It is no longer enough to be able to do a basic combo.
We have reached a level in breaking where a lot of combos (be it power, freeze or footwork) that used to be difficult in the past have become done with relative ease by a lot of bboys.
It is no longer a question of whether you CAN do this move or this combo.
I raised the point of windmill to flares because that was the exact combo Leon used as a personal example in his workshop.
Leon mentioned that he took a while to learn this combo (he’s not great with power). However, instead of gloating when he finally learnt this combo, he set about thinking of how to make this basic combo look different from other bboys, or look like Leon.
Instead of being content with this combo like many bboys who “zigged”, Leon “zagged”. He wanted to stand out, to make it look original, to make it look like this combo belonged to Bboy Leon.
And that’s what he did:
NOTE: This was the move he showed in the workshop, but he didn’t do it like this here in this battle.
Be honest with yourself. Is there a particular combo you do that has been done by countless other bboys? It could be a simple sweep to baby freeze, or a swipe to windmill. Whatever it is…. Stop being content with it being that way.
Think. Brainstorm. How can you make this simple combo look different? How can you enter or exit the move differently?
Train Like A Bodybuilder
When you first read this subhead, your first impression must have been that Leon gyms a lot.
Leon is the furthest away from looking like a bodybuilder.
“Train like a bodybuilder” actually refers to the training schedule Leon follows.
Competitive bodybuilders do not spend the entire year bulking up and trying to become bigger than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Instead, bodybuilders follow “seasons”, i.e they have periods in the year where they focus on looking shredded, they have periods in the year where they focus on bulking and they have periods in the year where they focus on chilling.
And that’s how Leon looks at his training schedule too.
He knows that most of the bboy competitions held in Korea and internationally happen in the later half of the year.
So he usually spends the first half of the year, or his “off-season” purely on move creation.
This is the period where he focuses on creating and practicing new moves, and also on trying new things.
Then, during his “on-season”, he focuses on putting everything together into sets — and practicing making the sets dope.
As a hobby-ist bboy, you may not have “seasons.” Or your country may not have that many jams to follow a season for (unlike Korea or the US). So how can you apply Leon’s idea?
Simple. Can you break up your practice sessions into creative and drilling? For example, you usually practice on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Can you make Wednesday a creative day and Saturdays a move perfection day?
Single Most Valuable Tip For Perfecting Your Freezes
“I HELD IT FOR TWO FUCKING SECONDS!!!”
This is the kind of cheer you hear regularly at practice sessions where a bboy unexpectedly holds an airchair or an airfreeze for LONGER than he expects.
Not used to the feeling, he exclaims in delight, thinking that he is on his way to mastering the legendary 30-second hold.
The only issue is — he has NO IDEA what he did that helped hold that extra one second.
So here’s Leon’s tip for perfecting your freezes and exerting better control over them:
The balance in your freezes is all about your legs.
Bring your master leg closer to your chest (and tucked in) can help you figure out how to balance properly. This is especially so for moves like airchair.
Trying to hold a difficult freeze? Experiment with different leg positions and see how that affects your freezes.
Footwork Isn’t Just Footwork, It’s Also Something Else
It is human nature to squeeze things into categories.
It irks us if we cannot describe them as a category.
For example, a platypus. Is a platypus a bird or a mammal? We now know and agree that a platypus is a mammal. But the fact remains that we cannot be so sure. After all, birds and mammals are CATEGORIES we invented.
What if we’re wrong about the categories?
We also tend to be very categorical and fixed about moves in breaking.
When we look at a move like a 6-step, we say it is a footwork, not a power nor a toprock.
Likewise goes for other moves like windmill, indian steps, knee drops etc.
We have our own categories for describing them.
While it certainly helps us in understanding breaking when we classify like this…
It also limits our understanding.
Toprocks, footwork, freezes, drops and power are ULTIMATELY all movements.
Breaking is about movement.
You can incorporate elements of toprock into footwork, and vice versa. You can incorporate elements of power into footwork and vice versa.
Take a look at Bgirl AT’s trademark CC move:
Traditionally, utilizing your hands like this belongs to the toprock category. However, the CC is a footwork move.
AT created a trademark by transcending the categories.
Instead of looking at footwork as footwork, and only trying to follow what “footwork” means…
She added the toprock hand movements into a normal CC step.
AT created her signature.
So.. how can you apply this to your own dance?
Think of everything in breaking as movement. Can you incorporate movement (hands, legs, knees etc.) into your moves and sets? Can you incorporate the basic movements of kick, step, spin and hop?
Like Something? Apply It Across
What do you like in breaking?
It could be anything.
Hand movements, threading, circular motions, sweeps, flare swings etc.
Take that which you like and incorporate it into everything in breaking.
Here’s an example.
Take Bboy Isaiah of Lionz of Zion.
He is flexible and loves using his flexibility in breaking.
However, a lot of flexible bboys only utilize their flexibility in powermoves or in tricks.
He wants to be different.
So Isaiah adds flexibility into everything he does. He adds threading into footwork. Floorwork. Freezes. Power. Drops. Toprock.
Now, instead of looking like everyone else….
He stands out.
What do you like in breaking? Be honest and write it down. Now can you apply that across the other elements?
Do Whatever You Like In Breaking
Is somebody telling you doing certain things ain’t bboy-ing and now you’re scared to express yourself? Ignore him. Bboying is about telling your own story — and expressing your own ideas. Don’t get held back by the notion of “what is bboying”.
Take Massive Action Now
We’ve done the work by attending Leon’s workshop and provided the Cliff’s Notes for you.
It’s your turn.
A lot of bboys and bgirls attend workshops, walk away with insights and forget them the next week.
I hope that is not you.
Because I want you to take massive action.
11 lessons are too much to apply into one session.
So, choose ONE of them.
Write down which one you intend to do in your next practice. Follow it.
And reap the results.