Japanese coach Ishikawa Katsuyuki explains how break racing is about community

Almost 25 years ago, a Japanese schoolboy started dancing, inspired and fascinated by the music and movement of Michael Jackson.

Ishikawa Katsuyuki, better known as B-boy Katsu One, started breaking into serious when he was in college. During his holidays, he visited the United States and Australia to attend breaking competitions and, although his parents worried about his future, decided to continue dancing after graduating. In his first year after graduation, he won a competition in New Zealand and his name was mentioned in a local newspaper – which began to change his family’s opinion of his art.

Since then he has been in contact with many breakers around the world and is now a judge in many competitions. In 2021, he chaired the WDSF World Breaking Championships.

As a schoolboy, Ishikawa could not have foreseen what his life would be like today.

“Not just my own future, but I never imagined that station wagons would become what they are today,” he said.

It all started at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, where breaking truly made its debut on the world stage. Ishikawa came there as the coach of the Japanese team which finished the Games with three medals – two gold and one bronze.

Two years later, the announcement was made that breaking would be part of the Paris 2024 Olympic programme.

Today, Ishikawa spoke to Olympics.com about the beauty of breaking and the sport’s contribution to modern culture.

The development of the Japanese breaking scene

After witnessing the rise of the breaking scene in different countries, Ishikawa identified a key factor in the development of the sport.

“If a ‘hip-hop tree’ has been established in a country, the level of disruption becomes higher,” he said.

The term “hip-hop tree” refers to a structure in which the older generation transmits their knowledge and culture of breaking to the younger generation.

Ishikawa sees these trees growing in Japan, as he has in the United States and Europe.

“Young breakers respect older breakers. They hold workshops and ask the older generation to talk about their experiences and the story of the breakup.

“They value the old, but also innovate, which I think is very important for the scene to continue to grow,” Ishikawa continued.

Ishikawa now leads the breaking division of the Japan Dance Sport Federation and organizes events and workshops throughout the year.

There has also been a change in the way parents think about breaking up in Japan. They are now more open to the opportunities that the professional break can bring. In terms of career choice, the success of sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding or breaking, which has seen two world champions crowned in the past two years, shows that one can make a living from these once marginal activities.

“I’m in my 40s and people my age have children. I feel like fewer parents have a “you can’t make money smashing” mindset, and more parents want their kids to do cool things.

“In fact, many of the world’s top breakers have supportive parents,” Ishikawa said.

Break and connect

While Ishikawa began her role developing the breakup scene 25 years ago, it has now become an important part of her life.

“You can express yourself however you want,” he said. “It’s okay to do that and it’s a unique part of the art. You can be free.

The culture also respects individual characters and people from all walks of life.

“If you have some sort of disability, that’s fine. If you’re heavy, that’s OK. If you have an extremely flexible body and can use it however you want, that’s also OK. It’s alright… what you might think of as a limitation becomes something appealing in the world of breaking up.

“Everyone is accepted and that’s cool. Breaking gives you a level playing field.

Breakers often taunt each other in dance battles, but does that ever turn into physical fights?

“It’s pretty rare, but it does happen sometimes,” Ishikawa said. “They warm up and suddenly it starts. But even if that happens, the people watching them will stop them and calm them down.

“It’s an absolute rule that you can’t touch yourself.

“The types of battles that take place outside of the competition can be the most interesting. After communicating with each other through dance, we often discover years later that we have a connection with each other. We forget that we were adversaries and even discuss a partnership.

“It’s also something amazing about breaking with the culture. If you dance, you make friends easily. If I go to practice in another country, I meet breakers who often invite me to their homes , so I rarely book a hotel when I’m on holiday abroad. This is how disruptive communities are formed all over the world.”

This all makes sense when you consider the origins of the breakup.

Breaking developed in the mostly poor black neighborhoods of New York’s South Bronx in the early 1970s. It served as an alternative to physical violence and played a role in settling disputes, later becoming a culture that has spread around the world, creating crews with strong ties in different parts of the country.

“It would be great to see more people committed to breaking through the Olympics or because of the exposure it will get from the media. I hope that from there our values ​​will spread and that more people will realize that breaking is fantastic.

Comments are closed.