All words + photos: Jackie Garcia — Video by Jefferson Lewis III
“EPIC Winter Gathering 2012, a two day event, took place at Xtreme Acro And Cheer, on December Saturday 15 and Sunday 16. EPIC Gathering is an event when athletes better known as “trickers,” come together to session, battle and attend seminars. Tricking is a martial arts sport that involves acrobatics such as rapid kicks, flips, and twists. Event coordinator for this year’s gathering, Jefferson Lewis III, said tricking is “creating the most complex, unrealistic attack that you can think of.” Trickers perform combos of acrobatics with a mix of influences like martial arts, gymnastics, break dancing etc. EPIC had a youthful crowd and even had some little kids session and battle alongside the more seasoned participants. I walked into Xtreme Acro and Cheer, and caught a familiar smelly sent, and was quickly greeted by friendly staff who were handling the ticket sales and sign in’s for participants. There were all types of giveaways that came along ticket purchases such as magnets, wristbands, lanyards, t-shirts, booklets, etc. There were several booths set up for all your tricking merchandise needs and even an energy drink table handing out samples and raffles.
The atmosphere at EPIC gathering is just like a smaller tricking session at your local gym but larger. The attendees were super passionate and encouraging to everyone. When someone landed or almost landed an insanely difficult combo the crowd would erupt into a frenzy of loud cheers, jumps, hugs, and tackles to that person. It was really fun to see these guys and girls get so pumped watching their peers as well as landing some sick combos themselves. EPIC is a good time for everyone even for those just watching, the trickers are complete clowns sometimes but are more than happy to show you a thing or two if you’re interested in learning. For more information on EPIC Winter Gathering check out this year’s booklet.
What is EPIC Gathering and what happens at the gatherings?
The EPIC Gathering is a Martial Arts Tricking event where people from around the country, and world, to practice this art together. At the Gathering seminars are available for new participants, Tricking battles are held, and videos are watched on a big screen.
How did EPIC gatherings start how often do they occur and where?
The EPIC gathering started in 2009 as an attempt to give the East coast an International level Event. At the time the only event that big was loopkicks in California. The EPIC gathering is hosted twice a year near the edge of Rockville Maryland.
How many people attend and how far do people travel to participate in EPIC?
Generally somewhere between 70-200 people attend the EPIC Gathering each time it is held. People have come from all over the world to attend. Poland, Australia, Korea, and Brazil just to name a few.
It looks like trickers mix many styles in tricking such as gymnastics, break dancing etc can you talk about the diversity in tricking?
Tricking has many influences but none greater than the martial arts. Trickers sometimes use elements from other backgrounds of practice to stylize there tricking movements.
Who can trick; what kinds of people can be seen in a tricking session or gathering?Who can trick; what kinds of people can be seen in a tricking session or gathering?
Anyone can trick these days because of the mass amount of tricking information available on the internet. It is now common to see very good trickers who are completely self taught vs martial artists who trained from years before doing a single trick.
How can people learn more about this sport if they would like to get involved?
Your best bet would be to look up Martial Arts tricking on youtube. Start comment on video and ask people questions. Eventually you may find people in your area the trick and before you know it you will find yourself going to gatherings and training yourself.
What tasks had to be done to run the winter 2012 gathering?
For the EPIC Gathering to happen the way it does there are many things that need to be done. There are meetings that have to happen with shirt companies and gym owners to negotiate pricing terms. There is a lot of graphic design work that goes in to the flyers, shirts, information booklet, id cards, magnets, signs, ect. A lot of video promotion work along with a great amount of social networking before the event. Staff meetings to plan out a strategy for the way things will go. Cleaning and setting up the gym in a way to help the flow of people traffic. And much more takes place during the event it self to make it successful.
Here’s a quick interview I did with the event’s coordinator, Jefferson Lewis:
I saw a many people taking video at EPIC how important is video in tricking?
Video is a very important aspect of tricking because it’s a way to capture the memories of the event. On a small survey once taking by trickers, 90% of the people said the the memories at a gathering are the most important part. This is more reason why videos, pictures, shirts, and other memorabilia is important at EPIC.
The attendees seemed really excited and encouraging to anyone participating, is that a normal atmosphere?
This is an atmosphere that is unique to the EPIC Gathering. Other Tricking event have come very close to that kind of support but I believe there are none quite as welcoming as EPIC. A lot of other gathering are promoted more towards people who already have a good amount of skill where as EPIC is geared more towards people who want to learn and improve upon there skill.
What does tricking mean to you and what can we expect from future gatherings?
Tricking to me is a way of training your body and mind to a level of awareness beyond the norm. This Years EPIC was actually the last one. However I hear tell of a different event being hosted by the locals of the area in the future.