The Subtle Art of Losing Your Tricks
I still don’t know exactly when it happened. Maybe it was while I was recovering from another sprained ankle, or during one of those random periods when I just wasn’t tricking as much. All I know is that once upon a time, I could snapuswipe—and now I can’t.
Losing tricks is something that we’ve all experienced at some point, and it’s definitely not a good time. But this isn’t an article about how to never lose another trick, or even how to reclaim the skills you’ve lost. Quite the opposite, actually—this is an article about getting better at losing your tricks.
Let’s start with a simple question: Why does it suck so much when we lose a skill? When I try and fail to hit a snapu, it feels... embarrassing, even if nobody’s watching. I feel like kind of a failure, even though, in the grand scheme of things, the rest of my life is going pretty well. Why does that lost trick matter so dang much?
Well, when we land something impressive, we often use that skill to boost our self-confidence. Once we land our first snapu, that insecure voice inside our head—which is always telling us that we’re no good—finally shuts the fuck up for a second. It can no longer attack us with thoughts of being stupid or unattractive or whatever, because we now have concrete evidence that we run shit. I mean come on, we just landed snapu!
Then our ability to stomp that trick becomes a part of our identity. We often consider ourselves a “beginner” or “intermediate” or “advanced” tricker based on the hardest skills we can execute, so when those skills change for the better, so do we. We also post the footage on Instagram, and through the gaze and praise of our peers, we become a better tricker and a more accomplished person. After all, as unconditionally supportive as our community is, we do still label one another based on our skill level. It’s both a spoken and unspoken thing; we literally talk about the “dub dub club,” for example. And even if we do manage to tune out other people’s opinions, it’s impossible to not be influenced by their standards of greatness.
So what happens when, suddenly, we can’t dub dub anymore? First of all, that insecure voice comes back: See, I knew you were garbage. Then our identity, which had been built on that skill, starts to fracture: Wait, does this mean I’m not in the dub dub club anymore? Can I even consider myself a decent tricker?
This brings us to the crux of the issue: Losing a trick doesn’t just mean losing a trick. It means losing a part of who you are.
Or at least, that’s how it feels—but maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe we can learn to lose tricks, and actually be kind of okay with it.
First of all, we’ve gotta accept that losing tricks is just gonna happen. This ain’t your daddy’s Muggle sport, in which you have to master a limited set of skills. (Run, throw, catch. Got it.) We’re talking about a constantly expanding universe of new skills and techniques, many of which have no relation to one another whatsoever. And despite your best efforts, you can’t practice all of them all the time. You just can’t. So yes, inevitably, some of your skills will fall into disrepair.
We’ve also gotta rethink what makes us valuable as individuals and as trickers. Scott Skelton was exactly right—we as a community do not need your skills. We need your spirit. I don’t wanna session with the guy who’s stomping insane tricks but shaking his head, upset and dissatisfied. No offense, but that guy kind of sucks. It sucks to be him, and it sucks to be around him.
Instead, I wanna session with the person who tricks with fire and enthusiasm, even if their skills aren’t particularly mind-blowing. The pride they take in their tricks is contagious, and their positive attitude makes the session more fun for everyone. They provide support and hype to those around them, and welcome support and hype in return. The important thing to note here is that their contribution, their value to themselves and their homies, has nothing to do with skill level. It comes not from what they do, but from how they do it. It comes from their spirit.
Another thing: Beware the negativity bias. Psychologists have been finding out that, to put it simply, we usually see the glass as half empty rather than half full. In our case, we fixate on the tricks we’ve lost, rather than give ourselves credit for the many tricks we’ve gained. I don’t know about you, but I tend to take a lot of my skills for granted; it’s easy to forget that, whoa, just last year I couldn’t GMS. Now I don’t think twice about it. So we have to fight that negativity bias, to go back in our memory and give ourselves props for all the skills we’ve picked up. Sure, it’s tempting to brush them off as “easy” nowadays, but we had to work hard to make them easy, and it’s important to not lose sight of that.
Unfortunately, nothing I can say will completely dull the pain of losing a trick, or totally stamp out that vaguely ashamed feeling of I should be so much better by now. In one form or another, in some corner of your mind, those thoughts will always be there. So instead of trying to get rid of them entirely, you have a simple choice to make: Will you wallow in that negativity, and allow it to define you? Or will you choose to focus on and appreciate how far you’ve come and all the tricks you can do?
Because remember, tricking skill is all relative—you’re probably your own worst critic, and someone, somewhere, thinks your skills are amazing. Hell, think about all the people who are walking around with a cane, or getting pushed around in a wheelchair. You, on the other hand, can kick, and flip, and twist. No matter where you are in your tricking journey, by comparison, you’re a fucking god.
And guess what? One day, you will be the one walking around with a cane. You will be the one getting pushed around in a wheelchair. And when that day comes, you will look back on your tricking years and marvel at all you could do.
So don’t wait until those years are over before you learn to fully appreciate your skills. Start today. Maybe you’ll eventually reclaim your lost tricks, and maybe you won’t—but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because, hard as it may be to believe, you’re already doing great.
Jeremy Price is a longtime martial artist and tricker repping the MuggleSlayers and Team TrickStrong. He also writes about tricking, stunts, and random BS for sites like VICE, Maxim, and Vulture. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.