Breaking is one of the only competitive arts on the planet where you can see competitors as young as 10-12 years old regularly competing against older breakers who are 30 and over. Battles rarely have ID checks unless they are done in a venue or environment that requires it. But anyone still competing after the age of 30 will tell you that age plays a big role in how breakers train and display their skills. At many competitions, the dance floor becomes a timeline reflecting the varying approaches to the dance of different age groups.
Young breakers like Kid Colombia, Shigekix, Terra and Ayane represent the wild and reckless abandonment of youth, that fearlessness that comes with being young and able to throw your body into moves as if you were invincible. Anyone who's seen Kid Columbia back somersault on to his chest as if he were made of iron, or Shigekix and B-Girls Terra and Ayane do round, after round, after round of ground and aerial power moves, as if they never get tired, probably won't be surprised when they learn that all of them, apart from Terra, are still teenagers, with Terra not even having hit her teen years yet.
B-Boy Kid Colombia
In contrast, you have the older more mature breakers, like Roxrite, Moy, Ayumi and Focus. To watch them dance is to still see the dynamic way of moving that breaking is famous for, but it's also seeing the dance in its more mature stages. Power moves are thrown out more strategically, at particular times in a round, instead of blasted with reckless abandonment. You will rarely see any moves that require the body having to absorb high impact, but instead you'll see a more foundational, refined way of dancing, and an approach, which those older breakers know will lead to longevity in their dance. But, with Roxrite, Moy, Ayumi and Focus all being in their thirties, it's not a surprise that they are not super crazy and reckless with the use of their bodies anymore.
Another difference in the approach of the younger compared with the older breakers, is battle style. The growth of breaking competitions from small, cypher filled affairs, to arena filled, sport-level competitions, has changed the way younger breakers compete. Older breakers who have been competing since at least the early 2000s, or before, tend to have a more cypher based style of battling. When they started, there wasn't really big prize money so reputation in the cyphers was just as important as in the competition, sometimes even more so. Back then, breakers would throw down short, dynamic combos built for tight cyphers or small competition spaces. This gave them more rounds, which allowed them to compete and cypher all night.
Competitions have now grown, with breakers competing on big stages that give them the freedom to throw themselves around as much as they want. A breaker's reputation is becoming only as good as their last win, instead of how they represented in the cyphers. With this, younger breakers have shifted towards longer sets in competitions, instead of the 'stick and move' cypher style of competing that was seen before. The younger breakers represent a new approach needed for a new time, and rounds that older breakers might have used before are now seen as too short to win a battle.
But the "young vs the older breakers" is part of what makes breaking such an exciting competitive art to watch. It makes you wonder if the young, hungry breakers can overcome their older opponents with their fearless approach to putting their bodies on the line for the win?
Or if the mature, older breakers can utilize the years, in which they've refined their skills to school their younger counter parts in the art that they've been practicing longer?
This isn't to say that you have to be a teenage youngster to have a power move blasting, fearless style, as anyone who's watched B-Boy Napalm, who is over 30, will tell you. And all you have to do is look at teenage B-Girl, Ami, to see a youngster who has already achieved a refined, maturity in her dance that takes many over a decade to learn.
Either way, young or old, in breaking all ages disappear and everyone is equal when the DJ drops the beat and the MC declares, 'it's battle time!'
Written by Emmanuel Adeleukn