Dancing with Hand Tricks: Failing the Tiger Claw

Dancing with Hand Tricks: Failing the Tiger Claw

I’m not sure about most people, but I know that for me personally, one of the other aspects of dancing that attracted me at first was the fact that it looked “safer” than other types of skating.

There are basically 0 aspects from traditional urban skating that appeal to me in this phase of my life, I’ve literally no interest in riding half pipes, grinding, or jumping down huge flights of stairs with a skateboard. That lack of interest in traditional skating transcends a little bit into freestyle longboarding for me, I don’t want to do big kick flips and crazy spinning things because I’m old and falling hurts.

As I’ve progressed with dancing, there are of course some things that are a bit scarier, such as pirouetting for the first time, riding backwards, etc, but for the most part I’ve never had too much trouble bailing off my board when something goes south on a dancing line. But that brings a question:

What about hand tricks in longboard dancing?

For those unfamiliar with longboard hand tricks, they’re exactly what they sound like – you pick up, spin, and/or flip your board with your hands and then continue riding. So for me, they’re kinda in a gray area. They’re typically classified as freestyle, but being that you use your hands to do something makes them a little different for me. Some of the moves though are quite flow-y, and can be pretty cool accents for a dancing line, if you can do them properly. Below is an example of a hand trick, the tiger claw, performed properly by Mikolaj Terlecki:

Carl Fölster was in Leipzig today, if you’ve read my longboard city review on Fuerteventura, you may remember that he’s a very talented longboarder and teacher that I got the pleasure of meeting and learning from on Fuerteventura last year. So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take a short lesson from him today, and we worked on refining some points in my existing lines, but I also asked him to teach me a hand trick – the tiger claw.

So, How did all this tiger clawing work out for me?

I guess the best way I can summarize this, is there were some ups and downs during today’s two hour session.

The UP being that amazing feeling you get when you see yourself making rapid progression. I can’t stress enough how important a good teacher is, or alternatively, how invaluable attending a longboard dancing camp can be, because truly helps. I showed up this evening having never tried a hand trick in my life. I didn’t have any sort of idea on how I should even start, and if I had tried this on my own with YouTube videos this would have taken me forever. Carl’s an amazing teacher, and within two hours I was getting the pop up of the board and the spin motion down pretty well, and I just need to eventually stick a landing. I now have enough of a solid understanding of the move to practice it on my own, and THAT is key when it comes to learning from someone. You can’t expect to master, or even land, a new complex trick or line within one session, but if they can get you to understand the motion completely so you can practice on your own effectively afterwards, you’ll learn much faster. The amount of small feedback he was giving me on my positioning and balance was crucial in getting me form 0 to something in a short amount of time.

via GIPHY

The DOWN was that a lot of stuff hurts haha. When you first learn how to pop the board up in the air it ends to go flying all over the place until you get a feel for it. So the edges of my beautiful new Walzer took quite a beating today. All the more reason to get the move down solidly as soon as possible to avoid the edges taking those hits. This makes things extra suck, because when you’re trying to catch the board and spin it and turn it, the frayed edges everywhere can be pretty rough on your hands. Beyond this I tiger clawed my board into my left shin…twice haha.

failing the tiger claw
Flipping your board into your shin whilst trying to tiger claw is a poor choice

Tips for other future first time tiger claw-ers

Be a cool kid and pick up some unorthodox protection equipment. The next time I go out and practice this, I’m seriously gonna wear a glove on my had that does the grabbing, because getting all those fine cuts and scratches on a hand is miserable. Furthermore, I am going to probably invest in some soccer shinguards for practicing this move. You’ll need the shinguard in the beginning for your leading foot, as when you first start popping the board you’ll have no idea how to gauge it, and if it goes flying into your shin you will be unsatisfied.

My transformation from 0 tiger claw ability, to like 25% tiger claw ability, within a 2 hour session. Just gotta get that landing now…

So what are my plans for hand tricks in the future?

I’m not sure. This is the first time in a long time where I’ve come home from a boarding session and feel completely beat up from the session, so that sucks. Furthermore I think I need to invest more time into researching more hand tricks. I don’t like the tricks where the board flips like a kick flip, I think these are too aggressive for dancing lines and don’t fit in too well. However I feel some hand tricks, such as the tiger claw, look very beautiful in lines when the tempo and flow of the spin match up.

I think I’m going to play around with this move a bit more and see how it goes, what do you guys think about hand tricks? Do they have a place in the dancer scene or not? Let us know in the comments below.

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