Gettin’ tricky: C-U Tricksters fly high

What do you get when you combine martial arts, gymnastics and a little bit of break dancing? You get the Champaign-Urbana Tricksters, an RSO started on campus in Fall 2010.

Tricking is a relatively new sport, taking the techniques of gymnastics and the kicks of martial arts to create a new type of acrobatics.

Emerging as a world sport in the early 2000s, tricking has spread through the use of YouTube, giving participants the chance to share their moves with people all around the world.

For club president Jose Martinez, junior in LAS, joining the tricksters when the club first opened seemed like a natural progression from his childhood interests.

“When I was 12, I started karate. After karate, I became interested in martial arts choreography,” he said. “I accidentally did a front-flip and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that on purpose if I wanted to.’”

Standing in the combat room in the ARC on the first day the Tricksters officially started, Martinez was not sure what direction the club would end up going.

“There was really not too much structure to the club,” he said. “We all wanted to learn, and we knew at least a little bit. We all just threw what we knew and started from there.”

Now more than a year old and gaining more members by the week, Martinez understands exactly what the club’s goal is: to help each of its members learn.

“I’ve learned that when it comes to a club, it’s about the people who are part of the club, not those who run it,” he said. “We have the club open for them to see what they want to do with the club.”

As tricking is relatively new to everyone in the group, there is no one “expert” that teaches everyone else. The group looks at the internet for help, specifically, for new tricks. It’s called a “tricktionary.” Everyone helps each other through spotting when somebody tries a new move, and giving advice where needed.

“As we keep doing this, we get better at teaching this,” Martinez said. “The oldest member probably isn’t even the best because he teaches us and we learn from his mistakes. I teach others and they learn from my mistakes.”

For vice president Phil Jue, freshman in DGS, helping his fellow members learn has become his favorite part.

“I love helping people learn a trick because I know that overcoming that fear and the knowledge of your body moving is quite difficult,” he said. “With tricking, we help each other because we learn as a group, and that bonds us together as a family.”

While some of the more beginner moves can be learned in a single session, more advanced moves can take weeks to learn.

“Depending on the trick level, there have been some things that I learned in one day. But what I do is I learn each trick and drill it for a week for muscle memory,” Jue said.

Jue understands this to be a successful routine — he has learned 10 tricks in the two months he has been a member.

While members are learning new tricks and sometimes making mistakes, they feel support from their fellow tricksters.

“Every time you do something new, people cheer for you. You mess up, people pick you up,” Martinez said. “We’re just trying to do our thing and enjoy ourselves.”

For Jen Chan, freshman in LAS, this “trickster family” as she calls it, has given her the support to overcome the biggest obstacle for tricksters: fear.

“The biggest challenge is getting over fear,” she said. “There are some gymnastics moves, and to do this, you have to get rid of the idea of ‘oh, I can’t do it’ and you just have to do it. Once you do accomplish it, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Martinez can agree with Chan on overcoming fears, stating that he learned to overcome many things in tricking. But to him, it’s even more than that.

“It’s a form of self expression, it relieves stress, and it teaches you how to push your limits,” he said. “It helps you break any limits that you ever thought you had.”