Practitioners of tricking show their skills in first formal gathering

Mr Alex Li, 25, showing off his tricking skills during a battle at the Singapore Tricking Gathering at the GymKraft gymnasium in Mountbatten yesterday.
Mr Alex Li, 25, showing off his tricking skills during a battle at the Singapore Tricking Gathering at the GymKraft gymnasium in Mountbatten yesterday.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Practitioners of tricking attend first formal gathering here

Slicing through the air with a series of flips and twists and landing feet first on the ground, 22-year- old Muhammad Noor Sulaiman Abdul Razak grinned triumphantly at his teammates as the crowd whooped and cheered.

He was taking part in a battle with other "trickers" at the Singapore Tricking Gathering yesterday - the first formal gathering here for practitioners of the discipline, which is derived from forms of martial arts, gymnastics and breakdancing.

While alternative extreme sports like parkour have gained traction in Singapore in recent years, yesterday's event organiser, Mr Terence Szeto, 25, said the tricking community here is still relatively unknown.

In 2008, when he first picked up tricking after seeing it on YouTube, he was part of a small band of 10 who met a few times a month to learn and practise tricks. "It was quite a pathetic number, and we would do it in places like a grass patch, any place we could find," he said.

But their ranks have been growing steadily, with many new trickers having backgrounds in activities such as dance, cheerleading or martial arts.

The Tricking Singapore Facebook group has about 450 members who share video tutorials and tips with one another.

Tricking is most widely practised in the United States and South Korea, where trickers have been active since the 1990s. It deviates from martial arts in that it involves flashier and more compelling moves such as jumps and kicks.

Yesterday's gathering, which drew about 80 people aged between 14 and 25 - a mix of experienced trickers and newcomers - to the GymKraft gymnasium in Mountbatten, was an attempt to bring the whole community together, said Mr Szeto, a cinematographer. He has plans to organise more events.

"We also hope to become the main hub for gatherings in South- east Asia as we become more established," he said.

On top of workshops for beginners, 16 took part in a series of battles to pit their skills against one another. The winners walked away with merchandise and access to practice sessions at the gym.

Nanyang Technological University student Kwek Sitong, 21, attended her second tricking workshop yesterday. "It's nice to see people of different age groups and backgrounds coming together. I come from a dance and cheerleading background, so this is something different."

Mr Sulaiman, who made it to the semi-finals, said the battle was a good opportunity to learn from others and take stock of his skills.

"It's not really competitive here, but it's good to see where I stand," said the polytechnic student.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'Twisting, turning and tricking'. Print Edition | Subscribe