Peace ya’ll, as I prepare to to judge this weekend at the Style Elements 22 year Anniversary, I started making mental notes and figured why not write them down, for myself, anyone entering this or any contest/battle that I might be judging. This isn’t anything but my perspective and approach to judging as I have learned through over 23 years experience and staying open to growth.
I’ve had the honor to sit on judging panels across the country and overseas and do not take the opportunities lightly. My goal is to always be fair, consistent and true to the values that make up this dance we call Breaking.
Things that I look for are your connection to the MUSIC first and foremost, which is different then stomping your feet or grunting on the 1 and the 3. The lack of this connection will definitely show in your character or lack there of. I come from a generation where a battle is a battle, doesn't mean you gotta front and act a certain way because you saw someone else do it. Be yourself and whatever that means for you in a battle situation. Rep for your crew, city, family, mentors and especially for yourself, have pride in your craft and all that/those that have come before you.
I believe in the philosophy that (ground) footwork is the Dna of breaking (ken swift) and every Bboy/Bgirl should be able to demonstrate their knowledge and representation of this.
EXECUTION, regardless of your strengths or weaknesses as a well rounded Breaker, execution can make or break your round, execute and make your statement in the circle.
Style over Technique / Freestyle over Written: These are different but contain some cross over. STYLE is not something you do, it something you have. If both dancers executed, have foundation at an even level the dancer with Style will win over one with technical movement in my book. Equally important if its a close call, I will choose the dancer that either demonstrated freestyle (goes back to connecting with the music) or / manipulates there set in a manner to match that moment will win, over someone who obviously is throwing out written and the music, space, or opponent made no difference in your run, guess what you lose.
I want to see a conversation between the dancers that will only happen in that moment. In a team/crew battle I want to see your chemistry, doesn't necessarily mean routines or commandos but a vibe, interaction and crew prepared for battle.
NAMES, your “name” can work against you if thats what your counting on, if a Breaker with not so much experience can hang with a much more experienced breaker because you took it easy, you’ll lose.
Do not leave it up for debate, make it an obvious and unquestionable win, if it’s close then you are leaving it up to the Judges OPINION at that particular moment.
I take into consideration your battle tactics, did you go out first, you got a sloppy fit with shoes flying off hat falling non stop, etc. All these things come into play especially when it was a close battle.
When you sign up you are signing up to be judged by the set judges, complaining will not change the outcome. Have a conversation in or out of a cypher if you need to get something out. You want to call out a judge and get the best battle out of it don't do it while they are in mid conversation nowhere near the circle, don't wait till they have done ten rounds and then you decide to step, and if they have been sitting in a chair for two hours, your gonna get that kind of battle. Step to someone with respect, you can disagree with them but dont need to be disrespectful. Thank you for reading and hope it adds to your success in battle, I will revisit this and am always open to constructive criticism. Let the Culture thrive!
A few other details I was REMINDED of...
Freezes, Burns, focus and control. If your finishing your freezes, throwing burns and its misdirected due to lack of focus or control. If you don't even know where your opponent is standing but you killed his round?
Talking Smack : this can be seen in just about any of not all competitive activities, this one just happens to be in your face. Keep it RELEVANT to the battle, if your talking personal smack then it's personal and expect that it might get a personal reaction after the battle. I am guilty as many to lose your cool and let the smack talking over power the dance and purpose, which in turn waste a lot of unnecessary energy and focus on your opponent. You also play yourself when you come out with a bum round or one not up to par with your mouth. Your also playing yourself when you try to point out a "flaw" such as calling out a written set or lack of attention to the music when you just clearly threw out a set...and...your boy that goes out next throws an obvious set with zero music? Played yourself.