Shaolin Break Dancing

Rock Steady Crew members Mr. Wiggles and Ken Swift have often pointed out that the spinning moves of breaking were inspired by movements gleaned from martial arts flicks. Jackie Chan is one screen fighter who has been specifically cited by Wiggles, and I have seen at least two Jackie flicks that seem to insinuate the foundation of the move known as the "continuous" backspin.

Rock Steady Crew

Crazy Legs, an early member of Rock Steady, is often documented as the 3rd major contributor to the development of the floor move that we know today as the backspin. But the first b-boys that history records as employing the move were Jojo (who founded Rock Steady in 1977), followed by another guy named Mongo.

Crazy Legs, who joined Jojo's crew a year later, took the backspin further by extending it into the continuous spin, which is much more popularly known today as the "windmill."

Interestingly, Jackie Chan's Drunken Master was released to theaters in 1978, the same year that Legs joined Rock Steady. This has made me think that it may be plausible that the move that led to the continuous was adapted from Jackie's star-turning final battle in Drunken Master.

Or maybe it was his final fight from Snake in Eagle's Claw (1978)...or Fearless Hyena (1979).

The Eight Immortals

As an aside, I think it's also worth noting that the film's "8 Drunken Gods" fighting styles were based on the Eight Immortals of Buddhism-infused Taoism. But I point this out only because a buddy of mine rags on religion endlessly, and I can't help but be amused at the irony: The footprint of religion can be found on nearly everything he loves, including martial arts and ostensibly even breaking–by less than six degrees of separation.

Anyway, as a Martial Arts Movie-Watching Grand Master™, I've studied well over one hundred martial arts flicks. This rambling post has now actually got me thinkin' that if I put my highly disciplined mind to it, I could probably come up with five or six kung-fu movies that show the fighting moves upon which several b-boy floor moves are based.

But this thought could also be a sign that I'm severely sleep deprived.

Still, one film that quickly comes to mind is Holy Robe of Shaolin. I readily acknowledge that this film was released in 1985, when the spinning floor moves of breaking were already firmly established. But it still offers an exceptional example of what I like to think of as the "Shaolin backspin." (See below)

Holy Robe of Shaolin

Unfortunately, the YouTube poster has embedding disabled, hence only a sad screen capture. But the full clip (which you can see here) is just over a minute long, and features several quick displays of the famous fighting styles for which the Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Temple are known.

"Buddha's name be praised." – Shaolin and Wu Tang (1981)


KFG4 Reviewed by Broken Pencil

Kung Fu Grip!
Perzine, issue #4: Things In Life, St. Paco, 7730 East Broadway #925, Tucson, Arizona, 85710, USA, kungfugripzine.com, $2
With a title like Kung Fu Grip! and plenty of cheesy vintage comic book ads, I was expecting to find a zine mocking '70s culture. Instead I got a tremendously thoughtful, introspective, intelligent, well-written zine. This zine made my day.
In the intro, Paco discusses the time lapse between issues three and four, how he lost his job and has struggled to get published in other mediums and the passing of his father. The latter is just mentioned briefly but, as you read on, you can feel its influence ripple through the pages.
Included in this issue is an article Paco wrote about the historical treatment and presentation of Negritos (Asia's "little blacks") that originally appeared in Giant Robot and an extended piece in which he writes about his final months with his father and the influence his parent had on his life. "I told myself that I wasn't going to eulogize my father," he writes, but once he realizes he is doing just that, he doesn't shy away. What he ends up creating is a beautiful tribute. " I have experienced nothing as rewarding as having the chance to help my father as best I could during the time when he needed me most. If I never accomplish anything else worth writing about, I know that I accomplished that," he says. Ironically it is something worth writing about and provides a moment all too rare when we're reminded of the power words can have and the perfect simplicity of the medium of zines to convey those messages.
Harley R. Pageot
Broken Pencil Magazine (Canada)


Densha Otoko (Train Man)

Thumbing through an old copy of The Source (August 1993), a photo at the top of the "Graf Flix" page leaped out at me. The picture shows a train that was painted by my San Diego buddy, Sake. When the flick was published I didn't know Sake, but had seen his work in The Source and a few other mags, including Phase 2’s I.G. Times, I believe.

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Anyway, 13 or so years later I ended up meeting Sake and doing an art show in San Diego with him and our mutual homies Mikey and my Joey, who were both part of the crew that introduced us. I didn't know what to expect of the show and really didn't put my best foot forward with the paintings that I did. But Sake, Mikey and Joey picked up my artistic slack.

Now, what really gets me at the moment is that it didn't occur to me until now that I had actually come to know Sake's work from this photo when it was published all those years ago. Pretty amazing.

Another noteworthy item on the magazine page itself is the photo of the blue & pink "Hyero" piece. It was painted by the now legendary Mike Giant. I first encountered Giant's work when he and his crew came through Chicago in '92, and left some beastly graff in our version of the Hall of Fame (see previous post). If memory serves, some guys I knew from the Ice Pack Crew showed him where it was, and he gives them a shout out on this page, too.

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Looking at Sake's photo once again, I notice that he dedicated the freight piece to his then-girlfriend-and-now-wife Chyna. But he also gave a shout out to Giant in the short list on the right side of his piece. I don't know if it's actually Mike or another Giant, so I'll have to check with him. (Or Sake could just read this post and drop me a note in Google Reader, since we see each other's online shares.)

Giant circa 1992, Chicago

18th Street Hall of Fame, Chicago


Archive #7: Battalia

When I wasn't even looking for it, I found a hard copy version of a logo I designed back in '95 for a comic book character that I was roughing out then named Battalia (bat-al-ee-yah). I can't remember the last time I actually looked at it. I was fairly certain that the image was saved to a floppy disk stored on a shelf, but who has a floppy drive anymore?

After rediscovering the logo, I was promptly saddled with the grand idea of finally collecting the synopsis and a short story that I wrote back then with the half-dozen Battalia sketches that were made into a little booklet known in the comic book industry an ashcan.

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Unfortunately, though, reality quickly set in and I found myself mentally wrestling against putting so much effort into a 15-year-old idea that I had no real plans to use. Battalia was a product of another time, and a phase that I was going through at that time.

When Battalia was created, I was a student trying to find my creative path. Her creation didn't even have anything to do with the instruction I was receiving at that time, but grew out of the interactions that I was having with other artist friends, both in and around that environment.

She represented a possible way for me to synthesize where I was creatively–a chance to fuse my appreciation for science fiction, animation, comics, art deco, art nouveau and the new design world that was opening up to me as a student. Battalia was a really good idea, but maybe she was nothing more than that.

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Had I much more skill (and patience) as an illustrator, it's possible that the project would have gone a lot further. Despite my limitations, I find that I am still quite happy with the images that I managed to get down onto paper. And for the ideas that she gave me the opportunity to channel, the beautiful Battalia still means a great deal to me. Maybe she and I will meet again before the year I set her adventures in: 2039.

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