For nearly 15 years, Santa Clara’s Loopkicks Tricking has been at the forefront of growing the Bay Area tricking community, teaching its students a sport which, according to instructor Mark Rusmantijo, “combines martial arts, flipping and breakdancing into one thing.”
Beginning as a martial arts demonstration team in 1999, Loopkicks has progressed to holding classes with average sizes of 18 to 20 people. In a gym equipped with mattresses and a trampoline, students can expect to learn the fundamentals of tricking: kicking, flipping and twisting.
“The goal is to teach everything in a safe manner using safety and drills,” Rusmantijo said.
Describing it as a blend of martial arts and parkour, Rusmantijo states that tricking only began about 20 years ago, making the scene still relatively small compared to other sports. Because of this, many of Loopkicks’ instructors are self-taught, and “teaching [themselves] how to teach people.”
“Back then, it was a lot of teenagers throwing themselves in their backyards and hoping they land,” Rusmantijo said. “We don’t want people to have to do that.”
As a part of growing the tricking community, Loopkicks has held an annual “Loopkicks Gathering” for the past 16 years, bringing together hundreds of trickers from all around the world, sometimes even flying them in. Additionally, Rusmantijo states that Loopkicks was one of the first organizations to hold such an event, which includes workshops, miniature competitions and challenges.
Because the scene isn’t as big as that of other sports, Rusmantijo believes that the tightly-knit tricking community is a reason why others should join.
“One good thing about the tricking community is that since it’s so small, whenever somebody land a trick for the first time, everybody cheers,” Rusmantijo said.
Along with learning the skills of coordination, focus, balance and goal setting, trickers are allowed to be a part of a growing, unstructured sport which is constantly changing — something which doesn’t happen often with traditional martial arts.
“There’s only so many ways you can do punching or roundhouse kicking,” Rusmantijo said. “But with tricking there’s a skill gap. New tricks are being landed around the world for the first time all the time.”
Learn more about Loopkicks Tricking at www.loopkickstricking.com
Vincent Nguyen is a senior at Santa Clara High School and contributed this article to The Weekly.