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I’ve been researching Tricking recently, and while undeniably cool, doesn’t look like it’s a very efficient martial art, at least compared to the ones I’ve done. Would a proficient trickster be any good a) against a practitioner of a more traditional fighting style or b) with the use of non-Tron weaponry, say a small knife? Thanks for your help!

I think the problem here is: you’re thinking that all aspects martial arts are martial. Well, some parts are just art.

It’s best to think of Tricking as the Taekwondo version interpretive dance with slightly more velocity. It’s not a combat art. It’s a performance art and is purely for crowd pleasing exhibitions. It’s exciting it’s fun to watch, and it pulls in a lot of students for the school. It’s also not a martial art in and of itself. Most tricksters hold belt levels in their respective martial forms, which they earned the old fashioned way: by practicing the martial art. You need to be decently high level in the form too because the tricking variant of Taekwondo requires a fundamental knowledge of how some of the most advanced kicks in order to function. The practitioner must then be comfortable enough to adapt and incorporate them into tumbling and break dancing. The assumption with tricksters is that they’ll really start getting into it two, three, or four years down the line after they’ve gotten high enough in the ranks to be comfortable with the techniques and begin experimenting with them.

The short is: no tricking is useless in an actual combat situation. It’s something your character would do on the side for fun or to balance out their competitive tournament schedule between sparring and traditional forms. Many tricksters are part of traveling demonstration teams that perform together.

If you see tricking in movies, it’s because it’s a performance art and very fun to watch. For most movie fight scenes, the visual entertainment factor is what’s most important. On the flip side, flips and tricks are actually very difficult to write. They require a complex understanding of how the moves function along with the ability to coherently and accurately describe those moves so the reader can visualize them. If you don’t know how they work, good luck.

Tricksters are daredevils. You can’t really do it if you don’t have supreme confidence in yourself. If you can’t act without second guessing, then you increase your risk of physical injury. All the tricksters I’ve known have been nice guys, but also really confident and, sometimes, stupidly fearless. They don’t have a well-defined fear of physical injury , even though they’re regularly practicing stuff where one wrong landing can lead to a limp for life. And, unless they’re really lucky, it will happen. I had an instructor who did a lot of high flying for the Ernie Reyes World Action Team in his teens and twenties, by his late twenties he had significant difficulty walking. No matter the skill level, every trick is a gamble. The danger is part of the fun, part of the rush. You just keep pushing yourself harder and higher until you finally break. (Sometimes, you keep pushing yourself even after that. This is the personality type that at it’s most extreme ditches the crutches and tries to do flips while in a cast and on a broken leg. Why? Because I can.)

The older you get, the harder it gets. Tricking causes a lot of physical wear and tear on the body. But, hey, you’re only young once. And if your character is tricking then they’re not thinking that far ahead.

-Michi

(Before anyone asks, yes I have seen some tricksters do crazy things like that while injured. It’s worse when they’re instructors and you can’t tell them no. If you know this personality type, you’re probably just nodding and going “yup, I know those guys”.)