Chain Combination Creation

Author: Juji

Published: Winter 07

This is going to be a simple little guide to the process of chain combination creation. You will like this write up! I promise this article will be free of rants and foul language! How about that for amazingly clean and inviting? My approach will allow novice to get the ball rolling with productive thought processes and experts to inspire more creations through a series of reminders. Thus, this is written for anybody and everybody.

My credentials

I'm not much of a combo'er, but that doesn't wreck the validity of this article. If someone cannot do X trick and gives advice for it, their credentials are watered down; Same with combinations. However, I am not going to be teaching any specific combo here, I'm going to be inspiring creative thought to conjure up fresh ideas. Getting to business now...

READ: The magic of the two trick combination model

The two trick chain combination is the bread and butter of all your extended chains as well as the foundation of your combo creation efforts. I considered several possible thought processes for productive combination creation and this is the best: The two trick combo! Majestic! There is a seemingly infinite amount of two trick combinations possible, but let's start by dissecting a classic: 540_hook_aerial, my very first combo! Two tricks linked with a transition, that transition is a hook kick. You execute a 540 and follow that with a spin hook or crescent aimed at the same target, upon setting the hook kick down you drop right into an aerial. Thus, you could say it's a three hit chain combination, but you would also be correct saying it's a two trick chain combination (because what constitutes a hit isn't always a trick). 540_hook_aerial.

Combo creation template:

Now let's take a look at a step by step template I believe to be universal in combo creation.

Step one: Choose a base trick;


Step two: Consider an angle or audience perspective of starting trick;

Angle is an important consideration. Remember, we are always, I repeat, always tricking with direction in mind. Your intended direction can vary from starting a combination facing a group of tricksters, to your camera, to a general scope of view or direction. A double leg looks good from several angles. Do not adopt a linear mind set, keep angles and paths in mind, varying them spawns ingenuity.

Step three: Choose second trick and an appropriate transition;

After choosing your base trick and its angle, we have to pick another trick to successfully create a chain. Let's use the butterfly twist as our base, and the gainer as our secondary trick. So we have butterfly twist base and a gainer as the secondary trick, now let's find a suitable transition. We will select a swing through! Butterfly twist swing through gainer. A staple combination in the tricking world. We will expand with more examples later in this write up.

Step four: Write your combo in trick notation;

Follow the previous three steps and you now have a two trick combo. The next, is an extremely important step and I will go into great detail here. You need to develop your own method of short hand trick notation, otherwise chains end up becoming tedious to write and vocalize. I am going to be explaining the method I use, and I would be more than happy if you used it (because I understand how to read it!) Just like a chemical formula, we need a short cut.

H20, This molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom: Water.
B-twist_swing_gainer, This chain is a b-twist swinging into a gainer.

C8H10N4O2, This molecule contains eight carbon atoms, ten hydrogen atoms, four nitrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Caffeine.
540 hook_msl_tornado_flg_b-twist_hook_round_flg_i-twist. This chain is a 540 hook with the kicking leg missing into a tornado kick, the tornado kick flagellates (explain later) into a b-twist followed by a hook after landing, then a round kick flagellates into an illusion twist. This is a Manny Brown combo. Yes, writing his combos in text is not always easy and I bet if he read the way I wrote it he'd be a little bewildered. Click here to download that combo for visual reference.

The previous two examples demonstrate the importance of utilizing short hand notations for writing out your combinations, and now that you understand that, let's learn some short cuts!

Honing your short hand trick notation:

Short cut #1, Abbreviating the trick name itself;

Butterfly twist = B-twist. Illusion twist = I-twist. Hyper twist = H-twist. Hypertwist hook = Hyper hook = H-hook. Hyper swipe = H-swipe. 540 kick = 540. Aerial = Aero. Aerial switch = Aero switch = A-switch. Flash kick = Flash. Flash kick switch = Flash switch. Double leg = Dleg. Crescent single leg gyro = CSLG. Infinite etc. Those are a few of the abbreviations I use. We are doing this personally so as long as you can remember what it means that's all that matters; You can always expand your fancy code later for sharing with others.

Short cut #2, Signifying a transition and using an abbreviation for it;

I've always personally used underscores for this. I've found that using simple hyphens for transitions can end up causing a bit of confusion. For example, H-twist-hook-aerial. So, is that hyper butterfly twist hook followed by an aerial or a hyper butterfly twist, with a spin hook after finishing the twist followed by an aerial? Two totally different beasts. So I typically limit using hyphens - to the trick abbreviation itself and use underscores _ to indicate a transition. Thus we have h-hook_aero and a h-twist_hook_aero. How about 540-hook-aerial. Is that a 540 outside hook kick followed by an aerial or a 540 round kick, followed by a hook kick into an aerial? So again, 540_hook_aerial and 540 hook_aerial or 540-hook_aerial. Take this recommendation into consideration, because it solves a problem you might run into.

Optional notations:

We are considering keeping track of our combinations and remembering them a certain way. For example, one optional thing you might want to include when recording a combination is if the combination has been done before, specifically the performer you are modeling. Simply jot that down on the side if that's of importance to you. You could also jot that note down for only a specific move in the combo. A raiz done by Crazy Asian and a raiz done by Haime both can look very different. If you wanted to spark a certain look than simply writing the combination down might not be enough. And of course, as I recommended choosing an angle, you might want to consider including that in your short hand notation.

Enhancing your combo creativity:

So we've got a step by step template. We pick a base and consider its angle. Choose the second trick and its transition. Then you develop a short hand writing style. Now that we are this far, let me teach you a trick (pun always intended) to creating fresh chains. I like using a method called word banking. First, I have my personal tricktionary or spell book. Next I keep a word bank of transitions and a tool box of terms that start the thinking process. Here is the transition word bank I personally use and a quick definition of each term:

Example transition word bank:

Note: I just mentioned hook, round, and sweep. These are kicking connectors for combinations. Don't forget there are many basic kicks. You got side kicks, front kicks, stretch kicks, split kicks, etc all at your disposal.

Basically. It's an _Insert transition description here_ scenario.

Additionally, don't forget ground based tricks like aubatido, flares, master swipes etc. Of course don't be afraid to set your hands down in a combo to connect things, as long as it's intended and not a bail or to catch a fall. Hand plant spin hook as an example or a cartwheel, sweep, etc as mentioned. I understand many of these transitions can be used interchangeably but there is a special connotation with some of them that stimulate different thinking patterns. And something of special note I'd like you to consider: Non-trick movements or actions within or included as part of a combo. I'll let your mind spin that one.

And if you wished to note the intended angle, simply put:

So now if you are somewhat organized, you'll have your own personal tricktionary of moves and individual variations of each single trick noted. For example, with a 540 you can do it with a round kick. 540 w/ inside crescent kick. 540 laydown. 540 grab. etc. A word bank of transitions and variations then becomes very powerful. It becomes as simple as thumbing through that library of terms and choosing a couple moves at random and seeing which transition fits. This is the most powerful method of harvesting fresh ideas. Have it all layed out in front of you and start brainstorming.

Example thought processes:

Now, assuming you are well organized and do have it all layed out in front of you, here are some example thought processes for connecting two trick combinations:

540 kick and an aerial

This is an easy one to start with. We have the classic 540_hook_aero as mentioned previously. We can dismiss the hook and just turn over to stomp out the aerial. 540_stomp_aero or just 540_aero for shorter notation. We can do it as a miss leg, 540_msl_aero or 540_crescent2aero. How about something different. Let's do a little roll on the ground turning out of the 540 into the aerial. 540_roll_aero. Easy easy easy. Switching the order, let's start with the aerial first. There are still many options. You can do a grandmaster swing out of the aerial into the 540. Aero_gm_540 or without crossing the sagittal plane with that miss leg characteristic gm, we can just hop off the landing leg from the aerial directly into a 540. Aero_hop_540. For something incredibly easy we can just do a two step adjustment between the aerial and 540. Aero_2step_540, which is just two tricks done back to back. Options, options, options. Options are splendid.

X-out and doubleleg.

Now for something a little more difficult. How can I combo these? Hmmm... Obviously I can land the X-out and jump straight out into a double leg. X-out_jump_dleg. That probably wouldn't look very hot on film unless I had a moving camera man catch the x-out from the front and do a quarter turn so the dleg is from the front as well. With a stationary perspective, I could switch the order and do a doubleleg traveling away from the camera, modify it so I land facing the way I came and jump directly into an x-out. Thus I now have Dleg_2_X-out. I wanna remember the angle so Dleg (away)_2_X-out. Ok that's two combos. Good.

Parafuso and aerial switch

This sounds nice. Both cool terms. By the way, a little off topic, but that's one reason I love tricking so much. It's got one of the coolest lingoes around! Hats off to the pioneers who created cool terms like suicide swipe, raiz, boxcutter, hyperswipe, parafuso (so cooooool!) I love it all. It's probably one of the reasons I've stuck with tricking, the lingo is addictive and fun to mess with. Anyway back to the task at hand, let's combo a parafuso and an aerial switch. We could modify the parafuso so we land only on the second leg (kicking leg) and miss with the initial leg into an aerial switch. Sounds like a really difficult combo! Parafuso_msl_a-switch. Now let's switch the order, A-switch first. I can picture some possibilities in my mind but I have doubts they'd translate into the real world. A parafuso sort of demands a spin to catch and create the whole double leg aesthetic. So I will stray from anything fancy and just build an a-switch_2step_parafuso, which is more practical. Not as much a chain as it is just two tricks done back to back, but well, whatever.

360 crescent and 360 crescent.

Oh wow! A double take. How can we combo this? Well we can simply do a 360 crescent straight into another 360 crescent. I would write it as 360_2_360 or 360_jump_360 or 360_360. I wonder if a miss leg is possible here? Remember you can land a 360 three different ways. You can land on the non-kicking leg, feet together, or land on the kicking leg (hyper 360.) So hmmm... Yep! The purpose of this example was actually to remind you that you can combo the same move with itself. Don't forget it!

Hypertwist and aerial

This is another easy one. Land the hypertwist and immediately turn over and stomp out an aerial. H-twist_stomp_aero. Switching the order is a little more difficult. To make it easier we can use an aerial with a run up that's more gymnast style as some people like to call it, land facing the direction we came low, and dip down immediately to that landing leg into the u-turn takeoff hypertwist. Ends up being the same thing, Aero_stomp_H-twist. Since a stomp is just a direct connection you might like writing Aero_H-twist or H-twist_Aero. If you are tired of abbreviations write it out a bit longer. Aerial_Hypertwist or Hypertwist_Aerial.

Now it's your turn!

Try to figure out for yourself as many ways (or any way if possible) to connect the following two tricks!

Now you get the idea. You pick a couple moves, have a word bank of transitions and single trick variation possibilities on hand and figure out a way to slam things together. Many experienced tricksters will tell you some of the best ways to create neat combos is to take two moves that seem impossible to connect and WORK at trying to figure out a way to connect them! It really is a good mental exercise. BRAINSTORM! If all else fails and you are stumped, just try to do the moves back to back smoothly and the result will still be worth your effort.

Bank of reminders:

Apart from your word banks, you may want to create a bank of reminders too. Remember how I reminded you before that you could do two chain combos with the same move twice? That's a good thing to remember. Most moves can be done on two sides. Left 540, right 540. Left aerial, right aerial. Left gainer, right gainer. Etc. That's another good reminder. Remember there are a lot of basic kicks and ground based moves you can do in combinations. What about a grab? Like, head grab? You can grab you head in a lot of moves to create that reclining, this is easy look. Or a rodeo grab. How about landing tricks in alternative stances, like into the splits or crouching? Individual trick variations! Don't forget hand combinations! How about multi-directional combinations or combos that travel in circles? Here is a nice one of Kim Do, click here to download. You might want to remember some combos a certain way, like remembering it by who has done it before and what trickster you are modeling from as I mentioned earlier. There are a lot of things you want to keep in mind here, so create a bank of reminders.

Embrace the two trick combo!

Embrace the magic of two trick combinations! Why? Because an eight trick combination is just four two trick combinations stuck together. Picture the following simple example:


Yes it's a little ridiculous to write. But that's an eight trick combination. It's really just a bunch of two tricks chained all together.

8 trick combo! Now I thought that up off the top of my head and it's in all honesty, very uncreative. This is why I like to limit myself to two trick combinations initially. When you start trying to conjure up really long combos you adopt a tendency to create bland things that just don't end. Look back at each count above and consider each as an individual two step combo. Pretty bland man, p.r.e.t.t.y bland. But with a little more thought, focusing more on creative two tricks chains, then connecting your two trick chains into bigger chains, you'll end up with something much snazzier (albeit, possibly insanely difficult). Still, begin working with two trick chains and it'll pay off.

I'm growing tired of seeing long chains with a hook between every move and I have a feeling that's going to become a thing of the past in a few years, as tricksters start splitting brain cells trying to really figure out new ways to connect old moves. Basic hooks and rounds; Kicks can of course, look excellent in combinations, but often they are used as crutches to get the combo to manifest. Thinking outside the limits of these crutches to change the look of things that are getting stale is going to be one of the most rewarding things you can do as a trickster.

Our conclusion

So with that, I give you a to-do list as homework; Don't psssshhh and forget about it, if you haven't done any of this do it ASAP!

Chain combinations are what keep your interest in tricking for years. It makes this sport exciting. It allows you to customize and improvise to create more with what you already have. I want you to enjoy this. Thinking up combinations is a lot of fun, it really is! Now, go brainstorm!