Guide to a Sustainable Breaklife
Breakin’, b-boying, b-girling, the good foot - whatever you prefer to call it - is a lot of things. It’s fun, athletic, immersive, life-changing to say the least. But let’s be real, it’s not the most sustainable lifestyle. Before you trip and get all “real b-boy” on me, just think about it: are you making enough money to get by off of just breaking? If you got badly injured, (god forbid) would you be taken care of? Do you see a clear path to success as a b-boy/b-girl?
The point is, breaking takes a bit of finesse to be a long term part of one’s life. There’s no one way of doing it, but here are a couple of key principles to help you stay in the game:
1. There Is No Blueprint
Unlike most other paths in life, breaking has no blueprint, despite what OG’s say in their Facebook rants. While there is value in just living the lifestyle and not thinking about it too much, problems arise when we get too caught up in treating breaking like other better-established career paths, such as sports or acting.
Breaking is beautiful because it’s free. It was never fully industrialized like rap music, and it has survived its initial hype/fad phase in the 80’s. Now, it’s an artform and culture to be enjoyed by anyone from anywhere. You don’t have to be a physical specimen, genius, or person with a lot of resources to enjoy breaking. But what’s the tradeoff for freedom? Structure.
Take sports, for example --a world often compared to breaking. Despite the similarities, it’s just not fair to compare the two (yet). Sports heavily focus on quantitative aspects: shaving off seconds, adding a few more inches, lasting a bit longer. In sports, the spotlight is on athleticism; the same does not go for breaking. Don’t get me wrong, athleticism is a huge part of breaking -- but the key word is “part.”
This point is important because the pathway to success is different from that in sports. You can’t simply train all your life and just expect to win in breaking. Breaking is still an art, and the biggest testament to that is the fact that we still haven’t figured out how to properly judge it.
Not everyone is gonna get 100 wins ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
On top of all that, breaking doesn’t have the same scale of resources as traditional athletics. Athletes get paid a lot to stay fit and physically explosive. Additionally, they have huge insurance policies and world-class doctors treating them seconds after an injury. We’ve still got work to do to get there.
There are a ton of folks trying to push the boundaries of breaking and add more structure to our community (and if that’s something that interests you, send me an email), but until we’ve got it figured out, we all need to remember not only who we are -- but also who we aren’t.
2. Decide What Breaking Is To You
I know, I know...YOLO. But actually, if you’re really YOLO-ing, you’re actually being thoughtful about what you do with that one life. Personally, breaking to me is something I love so much that the thought of mixing it up with money and business is a complete no-no. But to you, it might be different. Maybe you want it to be your main gig (or at least a side hustle). Maybe you want to use it to get into show business. Maybe you want to just use it to get fit. Whatever it is -- and the answer can change over time -- make sure you make a decision at some point, allowing yourself the thing that makes life so much less chaotic - clarity.
A lot of you are probably saying “it’s my life I eat, sleep, and breathe breaking…” Yes yes, dope, me too, but here’s the thing- you still actually breathe oxygen, eat food and need sleep, so just turn it off for a second and come up with a plan so you can keep this dope thing in your life. The saddest thing to see in this dance isn’t a loss: it’s a burnt out b-boy.
3. Winning Isn’t Everything
It’s easy to get caught up in the competitive side of breaking, especially as more competitions take a front seat. However, competing isn’t the only way to enjoy this culture. There’s so much more. Here are a few things that I personally was exposed to through breaking:
Performing / Choreography
Clothing / Fashion
Event Production & Promotion
Activism / Social Justice
Take a moment to think through all of the stuff you’ve had a chance to do that other people in your position wouldn’t get to experience had it not been for breaking. Then, realize that these are all opportunities. Better yet, because the breaking community is so underdeveloped, it can always use more of these skills. Look at all of the multi-faceted b-boys and b-girls making diverse contributions to the scene: MexOne (RIP), Jeskilz, CrosOne to name just a few.. Breaklife isn’t just about getting down, it’s also about adding what is unique and special about you to the culture that goes beyond just the moves.
4. Clarify Your Vision
Okay, so now you know what breaking isn’t and what it is to you. Here’s where you make the magic sauce.
First, you need to start setting realistic goals and then figure out the steps to achieve them. It can be as simple as figuring out what you’re going to do between practice and training, or as complex as figuring out all your backup plans and side hustles. Since breaking is still a relatively new industry and we’re all still trying to figure it out, resources may be limited, so try to reach out and talk through your plans with people who may have a head start on what you’re trying to accomplish. Knowing what you’ll do if you get badly injured is just as important as knowing what you’d do if you win BC1. And trust me, most people can’t answer either question.
“Knowing is Half The Battle” - GI Joe-Rawk