Hows your style? like it? love it? unaware of it? c’mon, surely not. Well if you didn’t think you had style, I won’t blame you. Most people think style is a drilled looked born through good technique, repetition and discipline… and it is. But its not my favourite type of style. I personally prefer natural style, self discovered and unique… and luckily we all have it. But most of us aren’t aware of it.
Style is everything, literally. Its the invisible force of natural technique we all have for doing something. Born from our uniqueness and trial and error approach of figuring out for ourselves what works and what doesn’t, making up for the strengths and limitations of our physical self. (muscles etc)
I know you have style, because you got dressed this morning. Really? yes, really.
Style is the way you stand, what you do with your arms, how you hold your hands, what finger shapes you throw, the way you make a funny face with your tongue when concentrating, it can be the choice of clothing you always wear, the way you land something, and the way you celebrate successes too. These are examples of the invisible style that we rarely see for ourselves. The more obvious ones are how we flip, twist or step into tricks, do we pull our arms into our chest, or fly them out to the sides, do we do a little skip before take off, are our legs straight and knees together, or bent and buckled? Everyone has some element of style… its impossible not to have it.
Most people rarely see their own style, I mean they can ‘see’ themselves doing things in videos, but normally we’re too close the action to focus on our own style. We are too busy assessing whether our trick was good or bad in comparison to all the other ones we’ve landed, or we’re watching our bad technique so much that we’re not even aware of the fact that it may contribute towards making us ‘cool’ or stylish. Very often we’re striving for a look and a degree of control and confidence held in our peers, and that’s good to aim for, but suck it up too much and we end up being a copy of someone else.
Our style is also evident in the moves we prefer, the ones we are confident in, gravitate naturally towards and also in the way we see our terrain. Traceurs and Free Runners are an obvious example, because their terrain is vast, diverse and without rules… what they utilise and how they utilise what they’re offered, can bring their style to the forefront. But even those without such obstacle choice have style in buckets. The martial arts tricker with a simple open floor stamps their style over every move with authority, from pre-setup, to setup, to take off, to extension, to kick, twist, land and flow in the next move… however it appears the more disciplined the art-form, the more natural style is suppressed in favour of a uniformed consistency… I’m thinking of gymnastics here… but even then I still know that individual style exists in each athlete, however its subtle and a more trained eye is needed to identify it.
If you don’t think you have good style and want it. They you’ve already failed. You can’t learn natural style, you have it already, you can learn technique and improve your look, to become textbook in its appearance, but your natural style is your individuality, why would you want to change that? Just like how cool people, are completely unaware of what makes them cool. They are simply, being themselves.
The best way to identify what style elements you carry with you, is to ask your closest friends, or training partners (if that’s a different thing!) People who see you regularly, probably know a hell of a lot more about your style than you do. They will probably be able to see the subtle visual clues you give prior to trying something, just like how you can see theirs.
I’m naturally thinking of my own style here, and this post is a result of it. 2 comments on my latest video stood out at me. 1 stated I needed to change my setup, and the other claimed I had good style… both are right, and strangely, both are wrong too. Style is subjective, my setup is neither right nore wrong, it could be better or worse, but it does what I need it too, and I get through the move. If the move wasn’t landed at all, then the technique would actually be wrong… not the style. Technique and style are often confused.
So its occurred to me today, style is something that is much admired in talented people, but is also something we can lose in ourselves easily if we take the advice of others too literally.
Perhaps we shouldn’t worry about the style of our successes, just the technique of our failures?
yeah I like that sentence, I’ll put it in bold. Why do I always think the size of a mountain to say the simplest things? (answers on a postcard to the usual address)