Breakdancing Basics

If you've decided you want to b-boy or b-girl, here are some breakdancing basics that'll help you to get the most from your first classes.

I'm going to cover things like breakdancing clothes, what b-boying classes are like and give you a heads up on some injury risks.

If you have any questions that I haven't answered below, get in touch and I'll help you out.




What are breakdancing classes like?

It depends on who your teacher is and what level you're at.

Each teacher has their own approach and philosophy when it comes to teaching.

Some are more focused on drills and concepts while others focus on teaching through choreography.

Great teachers often do these two things:

  1. share the history and culture of the dance and
  2. break down the moves so that even a 5 year old can understand.

At the end of every class, they always have a freestyle circle (cypher).

How my class runs:

  • Warm up and mobility drills which consist of warming up joints and doing some breakdancing basics. Even though a student may be new to the class, this is a way for them to get a taste of what they'll be learning.
  • First 15-20 minutes I teach the main lesson (concept or new move) and do a lot of drills based off that lesson. We focus on understanding the technique and learning how to flow in and out of it.
  • Next 15-20 minutes is drilling and reviewing the last lesson we learned and other moves that will supplement the day's lesson.
  • The next 10-15 minutes, we put together what we've learned into a small combination.
  • The next 5-10 minutes, the class experiments in creating their own combinations.
  • The last 5 minutes, we freestyle for 2 rounds.


What should I expect from beginners' breakdancing classes?


Expect to feel stupid or like you're doing it wrong. That's normal because you're doing movements you've never done in your life.

One thing I want you to know is that it's a process. No one is ever going to get it the first time. The last thing you want to do is feel down for something that you just started on.

When you take a class I want you to focus on:

  • Having fun
  • Just getting one or two moves that you can really practice at home. If you can remember more, great.


Will I be the only beginner?

Probably not, because you'll find a wide range of students taking the class. This ranges from beginners to those who have been taking the class for a couple of months.

Depending on the class the age groups can vary as well.

Whether it's your first time or not, the instructor and other students will make you feel right at home. Everyone is in the class for the same reason as you, to learn.


What age do you have to be to b-boy?

What age?  Doesn't matter!
Students, regardless of age, just need to have a good sense of strength and balance.
This means you should be able to hold yourself up in a plank and go down to a squat.


Do you have to be super fit to do the breakdancing basics?

You don't need to be in crazy physical shape (though it does help).

But just because you have muscle doesn't mean you have great coordination or strength to hold yourself in a freeze.

I've worked with many students who can have great physique, but have a difficult time holding themselves up. Creating the kind of coordination you need for breaking is a different type of conditioning in itself.

Breakdancing isn't limited to just strength. It's a combination of strength, endurance, and flexibility.

  • Strength to hold yourself up on freezes or execute power moves
  • Endurance for top rocks and footwork.
  • Flexibility that gives you more room to execute the range of movements


How do you find a good teacher?

How you identify a good teacher is that he or she should be able to cater to different personality types and levels. Not everyone that takes a class has the same personality nor are they at the same level.

Some students need more detail while others need encouragement. A breakdancing teacher who has a great understanding of the personality types is huge.

They should also be effective in how they breakdown the moves - you need to fully understand the breakdancing basics before you can progress. I've taken classes where the teachers just show you the move and don't explain it at all. It's maddening.

Teachers who also take the time to do quick one-on-one's with students are great too, because everyone has different needs. Even spending a quick 30 seconds with the student helps a lot.

And of course, encouraging the students to freestyle is important because this a freestyle dance. I believe avoiding this part altogether is a disrespectful to the art itself and to the students because it's not giving you an opportunity to be challenged.


Breakdancing injury risks

Considering that this is a highly active and physical dance, there are a handful of injuries that can happen if you aren't properly warmed up, stretched, or trained in certain moves.

Along with that, injuries can happen if you become careless with what you're doing. Other times, they're just accidents we don't have control over.

So understand that breakdancing is an athletic dance.  Overlooking this is just asking for trouble.
There are possible:

  • Wrist injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Ankle injuries
  • Shoulder injuries


I don't see a whole lot of injuries, but most of the time it's because of a minor detail the pupil has overlooked like warming up or not stretching.

So just don't skip the stretching / warm up.  Most b-boys who I know are at the top of their game stretch for at least 20-40 minutes.


Breakdance clothing

My main focus when it comes to breakdancing clothing is this:
You should be able to move comfortably in all directions without feeling constricted.

This means you should be able to move your hips past 90 degrees and spread your feet.

In regards to a top, it shouldn't look like you're swimming in your shirt, but it should also be comfortable. You should be able to raise your hands up and twist without feeling a tightness around the torso.

Some choices for pants:

  • Sweats (my preference)
  • Jeans (as long as you can move your legs)
  • Shorts (may need knee pads if you're uncomfortable dancing on your knees)

Shoes:

  • Running shoes or anything light
  • Don't wear boots
  • Don't wear shoes that are heavy
  • Don't wear flip flops or sandals

Adidas

Puma

         Tribal Gear

Other useful pieces of clothing: 

  • Windbreakers (great texture for spins)
  • Head spin beanies (beanies with padding on the top so spinning is easier)
  • A skateboard helmet (great for headspins)
  • Elbow pads or any type of elbow or knee pads (great for when you do freezes that involve your elbow)
  • Wrist wraps (if you have weak wrists and doing hand stands hurt)

That's all your breakdancing basics for now.  But like I said, if you want to know anything further, you can contact me.

Finally, check out my How to Breakdance for beginners course.  If you're really serious about your dancing, it's perfect for you.

Emeroy Bernardo
› Breakdancing Basics