How to Breakdance 101: Unleash Your Inner B-Boy

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An impromptu b-boying lesson at home after some Bulleit bourbon. Don’t drink and dance.

Breakin’ 2 did it. It was 1984 and I was convinced I would be a professional breakdancer. Alas, I was seven years old, and I looked exactly like this reader who left a comment on my tango instructional post:

Tim,

I’m pretty impressed by your achievements in tango, but what about tips on your first love?

B-boying is a sport I’ve watched and attempted for years. Sadly, the minute I go from uprock to six-step I look like a two-year-old trying to find spilled jelly-beans.

I don’t know what to do. Can you offer any tips on learning how to storm floors?

PS: Nice freeze on the Jones Soda. I don’t know much about tango, but I do know how hard b-boying is. I’m from Seattle and I’m damn proud.

I didn’t rediscover breakdancing (aka b-boying, not to be confused with popping or locking a la Michael Jackson) until 1997 when I found a few scattered videos of breakdancing online. I download horrible written instructions, crappy 10-second video clips, and resolved to learn how to do my favorite move–windmills–before college graduation. Death or windmills.

Months of bruised hips and humiliation later, I was able to do them. It was almost all guess work and took far too long. I’ve since found better methods for building on basics in a logical progression.

In this post, I will teach you the basics of footwork. If you’ve ever dreamed of breakdancing (and who hasn’t?), this is enough to let you check it off the list…

- Six-step and six-step variations
- Basic flourishes that take 2-10 minutes to learn
- How to enter and exit footwork without looking like an idiot

First, a brief demonstration of what is possible with a mediocre build for breaking.

I am not a good breakdancer, and I’ve never claimed to be one, but I can do enough to use it for dramatic effect around untrained eyes. Assuming you have semi-healthy joints, you can learn how to do the following in 1-2 weeks, and I’ll teach you most of it in the next 10 minutes. This was on-the-spot, in dress shoes, at a conference after months of no practice, which goes to show how simple the moves really are:

Onward to How to Breakdance 101. I cut off my head, as the feet are more important:


This is enough to make an impression around non-b-boys.

Keep in mind that I now b-boy perhaps three times a year, and only for a few minutes at a time. These moves are not hard on the joints and will stay with you. Some other rules of thumb:

1) Thou shalt not break drunk or buzzed. Joints don’t like it.
2) Thou shalt not break on surfaces that might have spilled drinks. Ditto for joints and foreheads.
3) Thou shalt bring a second t-shirt if they plan on not being a sweaty bastard around others.
4) Thou shalt not break in public until reviewing video of themselves. Self-monitoring while breaking is not accurate. Mediocre breakdancing is more of a liability than no breakdancing. Take a few days to get the basics down before showcasing.

Have fun! It’s a great and unusual world to explore.

Here’s how the pros do it–take the time to watch this one:

Posted on: October 25, 2009.

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121 comments on “How to Breakdance 101: Unleash Your Inner B-Boy

  1. Really awesome. I’ve been to dancing since I was a kid. Break dancing was just one of the things I really wanted to do. I am not on the right age to do it now. But your videos and your article I believe are great help for all the kids out there who really want to know how to break dance. Dancing is a passion. When you get to do it more often, you’ll be an expert. Break dance is hard to do, I’ve been there. But it just needs a little of courage and a whole lot of time of practice.

    Thanks for sharing this article. Like I said, it would be helpful for those who are dance fanatics out there. Looking forward for another article and more videos.

    Like

  2. Hi Tim. Thanks for sharing some of your awesomeness!

    If possible, if your still fit ;-) could u redo the Part 2. with more light. Can barely see your legs and Im actually learning from you :-)
    One thing sounds funny however I recommended it to a few dance teachers is different coloured shoes or socks so those watching can more easily comprehend movements.

    Great one mate, thanks for sharing so much.

    Like

  3. hi
    my name is hamed and i live in iran , i have 19 years old .
    i 4 years dancing .
    the break dance part of my life and i like break dance to learn beter
    tanks bye

    Like

  4. Sick video Tim! I tripped balls the minute I found out you could break!

    You seriously were on of the inspirations that got me to start putting together a dance strength and conditioning program. It’s based off some exercises with my girlfriend to get her ready for a battle with only 2 days of training.

    I’ve been hosting workshops around my area for both experienced and non-experienced dancers. It’s been exciting seeing everyone evolve in their craft.

    Here’s a mini trailer I put together to promote it if you’re interested.

    Like

  5. I think it’s kool how u break dance. And I wanna learn how to do it. I want to do something interesting and something I will be able to put my heart into. I’m 13 years old and I REALY want to. Thank you for ur amazing story! U should be proud(:

    Like