Butterfly twist tutorial

Entry data:

Class: Twist
Alternate names: B-twist
Description: The B-twist is performed from a B-Kick takeoff. (1 foot take off) at which point when you reach your peak of height you roll over to do a just short of 360 spin and land back on the take off foot. If done correctly it should look like a 360 horizontal spin in the air.


Prerequisites: Butterfly kick
Equivalent variations: Illusion Twist, Twist round
Advanced variations: HyperTwist, HyperHook, 720 twist

Assisted learning:

The butterfly looks like this:

A picture of a butterfly

B-twist is the short name for butterfly twist.

The butterfly twist is one of tricking's core moves and the most basic twist. In any tricking difficulty classification system it would belong in a novice division. It resides with other moves like backflips, 540s, 360 crescents, double legs, and aerials. However, it is of my opinion that this move is the technical bastard of the group. Just start looking around. The butterfly twist is the most varied basic move aesthetically and technically among tricksters; Mainly because the simple nature of the execution and the lack of any particular guideline denoting correct or incorrect technique. As a few examples and reminders, ponder the following differences:

I'm confident I'm overlooking at least a few comparisons, but the above listed amazingly are all differences in the same variation of one move! This isn't even considering what happens when you start hypering and 720ing the move, this is all the same b-twist done different ways! Are any of them wrong? Well without going into a heavy discussion of what constitutes right and wrong in tricking, simply put: If the move works and looks good it's right. So if a characteristic trickster butterfly twist with messy dip and flinging limbs ends up looking cool, then how is that wrong? Sure the butterfly twist was born from Wushu and this looks totally different from what they practice, yes it would be wrong in their practice, but if you are reading this as a trickster then what is right or wrong in Wushu should be irreverent to you.

So many ways, so many details...

One of the reasons beyond laziness that I've put off writing about the b-twist is because I've always felt that a tutorial for this move had the potential to go into so much detail that I'd drown in mud writing it. Moreover, I feel I'm not exactly the best qualified to be writing about the move. My butterfly twist technique isn't very malleable, over the years it has become the most stiff skill of my basics. While I can tweak most of my basics on the fly, I've always had trouble making radical changes in this move instantaneously. It always ended up looking about the same no matter what I did. So more than ever don't feed off what I write here as your only source for butterfly twist information. Scrutinize your own executions of this move until your eyeballs start oozing blood as your brain slowly implodes upon itself releasing precious life fluids through its neurological porey membranes.

An advance simplification before the details:

So let's get down to it. Let's learn where to begin and go from there. First up, the cliff notes version for the run up butterfly twist. This is going to be the summarization of the pictorial walk-through.

Cliff notes 10 step b-twist (twisting toward left side):

The b-twist in only fifteen words!

With an even more simplistic explanation, this move is pretty much summed up as: Dip, jump, kick one leg up behind you, look over your shoulder and spin, land. Yes that's a gross over simplification, but the difference between a gross over simplification for a basic trick and an advanced one is that when this kind of advice is given to someone, usually the easier trick can actually have a high success rate. Since so many people can b-twist and have learned to do it from such sickly simple (yet effective) advice, this evidence proves this move is really that easy! Now take a 720 butterfly twist and oversimplify that: Dip, jump, kick one leg up behind you, look over your shoulder and spin twice, land. Both are over simplifications but one of them is going to be applicable for a wider base of tricksters.

Introducing the pictorial walkthrough:

There are many outcomes for this trick, and many end goals (swinging / combo'ing / etc), but I'm going to keep this simple and just explain the run up b-twist. My run up b-twist, which has a modified dip and a snap at the end with the non-kicking leg, is the visual walkthrough model. I will be doing this on my left side.

The dip demystified: This might be the most valuable aspect of this tutorial. I get the general impression that most tricksters don't have a clue what the dip is really for. In fact, I get the impression that this is the most monkey see'd monkey done type basic trick. Do we really know why we step through, sweep, dip, stall, bring that first leg up, etc? Yes you might! So apart from those things being painfully obvious descriptions of this skill's segments and cheesy tips, why do we do these things? Is it just because these are the mechanics of the move? Well yes but just because you know the mechanics of something doesn't mean you understand them. I think we can make great headway into greater understanding of the b-twist if we simply question the dip's purpose. What is the dip for? Let's use an analogy to understand it. I want you to think about what happens when you do a simple vertical jump. What happens when you charge up and dunk a basketball? What are the mechanics of the jump? If you didn't know, the vertical jump is actually a fairly complex skill. The reason you take it for granted is because it's both natural and useful. You use it everyday! The butterfly twist isn't as useful as a simple vertical jump. Imagine, trading in your simple jump skill for the b-twist. Every time you'd jump you would do a b-twist instead! Now when you need to get something from a tall shelf you'd b-twist into the shelf structure. When you need to jump over a fence you'd b-twist into the fence. And thinking back to basketball, when you are playing a game of hoops instead of dunking, you b-twist into someone: FOUL! You literally knocked over three of the other team members instead of scoring two points! WTF?!

Now back on track. When you charge up for a jump, this is what happens: You step out, dig, and jump. So when you charge up for a b-twist, this is what happens: You step out, dig, and jump. Aha! I just said the same thing! Are you catching on? When you do a simple vertical jump you step out to get low, which creates the dig to take advantage of something called a stretch-shortening cycle, to explode back upward. Like a spring conserving energy then releasing. Same things happens in the b-twist except we are using a sweep instead of a step out which gets us low for a dig! A dip and a dig are the same thing, except the word dip stuck in the tricking community instead of dig because of how low the body gets prior to butterfly twisting; But they are the same thing! Finally, why do we dip so low? Well, the observer's answer is because that's how most people do it and what is generally accepted as looking best, but you will notice a lot of people not dipping down much at all (if any.) They might simply initiate the butterfly twist after a sweep with only subtle dip. Usually the legs remain below the body on these types of butterfly twist (at least that is what I have noticed) / So more dip usually results in a more horizontal butterfly twist. To conclude the demystification of the dip, just remember it is the same thing as a dig preceding any type of jump only the actual characteristics of application tend to include additional variables that alter the outcome of the trick; Which in the end, is why we use the term dip instead of dig.

The spin simplified: I want to make you think. I really do. More than any other trick, when it comes to the butterfly twist I want you to THINK instead of just copying and following by feel. I want you to think about something briefly. If you are a guy imagine a hot babe figure skating in a bikini swirling around like uhh... an ice princess. If you are a chick imagine the same thing because I'm sure my entire female audience consists of lesbians. Now visualize how they do those triple axle things. They dig (like a vertical jump *wink* *wink*) then they explode upward, they wrap their body up very tightly with their arms in close and legs together, then they land! Yeah I'm still amazed how figure skaters land their skills on a blade that's about half an inch in width and fly out of it smiling. Ok, well think tricking now. Think about a good 1080 kick. Same thing. Awesome wrap, then a leg flies out at the end for a kick. So now I want you to consider those visualizations in light of butterfly twist execution. You see, I just gave you a big secret to the hypertwist and 720 twist / which means I just gave you a big secret to the butterfly twist as well (duh.) This move is nothing but a jump spin that is horizontal! Remember that. It's just a jump spin that is horizontal! Let your brain turn that one over.

Focus on one thing at a time:

We're going to use the analytical analysis method of breaking this skill into pieces and paying attention to the detail of the individual parts. This aids in building the sum back into the synthetic model, which is the skill in its entirety. Here are a few motions to analyze during the butterfly twist; These are copy and pasted from what I personally use for myself when tweaking b-twists and its variations,

Modifying and paying attention to any of the above will produce a lot of possibilities in the outcome of your b-twist. Also, when comparing butterfly twists you might want to note any similarities or differences in accordance to the above list, using it as advance organizer for what to expect when checking out what's happening during visual examples.

Specific problem advice:

Oh my gods, where the fuck do I begin? I have an idea. Let me skip the specific problems section and just create some simple scenarios to use for exemplary purposes when wondering why your b-twist is behaving the way it is...

A short butterfly twist outcome list and the associated reasonings:

If your b-twist is looking like those shitty b-twist'ish aerial twist things, you are probably not utilizing the sweep / dip setup. You are probably using the common aerial setup and trying to twist out of that.

If your b-twist isn't horizontal, rather, your upper body is waaaay above your feet, I bet you aren't dipping your upper body down much, (if at all!) Or it could be a problem with that first leg not coming up boldly (if at all!)

If your body begins to invert in the b-twist, where your legs end up being higher than your body like this \ with your legs being on the high left of the forward slash, I have a feeling you probably didn't rise back up with your upper body out of the twist. You probably dipped, whipped that first leg up to give you lift, and kept your body down. Now, imagine all the other outcomes that could result from this effect.

If your b-twist has a snap at the end like mine, you are probably reaching for the ground with the landing leg soon and leaving your other leg to hang. This habit can become problematic when training b-twist swing throughs.

A topic on possible progression:

Ok well, how about progression into this move? For example, in the 540 we work the basic dynamic flexibility foundation, the tornado kick, then progress up from that into nailing 540s. For the butterfly twist you can work your b-kick and create a foundation out of that. From there you might or might not find the b-twist easy to progress into, but that is nonetheless a foundation which is still useful. So how do you b-kick? Well, you basically use the same guidelines you would be using for a b-twist except you simply do not twist. Download the example clips, I included a b-kick video in that zip. Moreover, I have included a little surprise for you in that zip; It's me learning the butterfly twist on my other side some year ago. After a week of drilling some b-kicks on that side I came to the gym to work on b-twists. I got this move on my non-preferred side very quickly, albeit it still looking extremely shitty. So you can use that to observe what it looks like watching someone (like me) learning the move.

My experiences and walkthrough conclusion:

I got the butterfly twist pretty early. I remember my first b-twist but I do not remember what lead up to it. It was during Summer 2001. I was working moves on the mat in my garage and I remember landing it there for the first time. I wasn't particularly excited. In fact I really don't remember it much. I tend to remember moves I had to really bust ass on and landing the butterfly twist wasn't a big moment for me. Anyway, the butterfly twist has given me more trouble down the road than the other basics. I've lost the groove of it more often than the other moves and generally found it to be the most annoying to tweak and regroove. This is probably why this tutorial has ended up being the largest of all the others; I feel the main problem the tricking population has with this move is the lack of utilizing critical comprehension. If you really want to understand and own up in butterfly twisting you have to pay attention to the reasons the mechanics exist to function the way they do, and you must be aware of all the subtle variations you can draw from to recreate the technique in different ways.

Now that you've spent way too much time already reading this. Go out and just chunk some b-twists! Remember, this move is nothing but a jump spin that is horizontal!