Ami is jumping in front of Narumi on the BC One stage
© Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

This is what you need to know about basic breaking moves

When a breaker gets down they usually perform a group of basic elements that make up the dance – get a breakdown of the most important moves here.
By Emmanuel Adelekun
4 min readPublished on
Breaking is a dynamic combination of dance moves that B-Boys and B-Girls mix together in a creative rhythmic flow. But, just like all physical disciplines, breaking has a handful of basic elements that make up the dance form, and which all breakers learn to then be able to 'throw down' in a cypher or battle.
Here’s a rundown of the eight basic elements that a breaker will perform when doing a throw down.

1. Top rock

Samuel 'Samuka' Henrique of Brazil poses while making a video at Komplex 457 during the Red Bull BC One World Final camp in Zurich, Switzerland on September 29, 2018.

Samuel 'Samuka' Henrique from Brazil performs toprock

© Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

Top Rock is when a B-Boy or B-Girl is dancing while still standing and it's how breakers start their throw down, before going to the floor. There is no set amount of time that a breaker is expected to top rock for but a B-Boy or B-Girl will usually dance on top for at least one to two eight counts of the music. Using a variety of top rock steps, complimented with hand and arm gestures, in top rock breakers get to showcase their rhythmic style and their ability to play with the music while still standing.
Examples of Top Rock steps are: the Indian Step and the Cross Step.

2. Go Downs

Lil Zoo stands on one bent leg while going down to the floor.

Lil Zoo drops to the floor

© Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool

A Go Down is the move a breaker uses to go from their top rock down to the floor. Preferably this is done in a seamless transition that comes out of the flow of a breaker's top rock, taking them to the floor without stopping the rhythm of their dance.
Examples of basic go downs are: the Knee drop, a Spin down or Hook drop.
A breaker can also go down from their top rock into a freeze, power move or trick.

3. Footwork

San Andrea doing footwork on the floor

San Andrea doing Footwork at the BC One World Final

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

Footwork in breaking is when a B-Boy or B-Girl is down on the floor using their hands for support as they move their legs through a variety of breaking footwork steps.
Examples of some basic breaking footwork steps that you'll see a B-Boy or B-Girl do, are: a 6 step, a 3 step, shuffles, kick outs and CCs.
Breaking footwork is mostly done in rhythmic circular-rotational movements, using the legs and hips, but it can also be done while moving in straight or diagonal lines across the floor, or in very complex patterns.

4. Freezes

Kastet of Russia poses for a portrrait prior to the Red Bull Bc One World Final in Zurich, Switwerland on September 28th, 2018.

Kastet doing a Hollowback Freeze

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

A Freeze is when a B-Boy or B-Girl makes, hits and holds a solid shape with their body for a few seconds. This is usually done to hit a prominent sound in the music, and is a way of putting a full stop ending on a combination of movements that a breaker has been displaying, with the Freeze usually signifying the end of that particular sequence.
Examples of basic breaking freezes are: the Baby Freeze, Chair Freeze, and Elbow Freeze.

5. Transitions

Chey steps through a hole that he creates by grabbing one foot with the hand.

Chey is using a thread as a transition move

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

Transitions are the movements breakers use to get in and out of their moves, or to combine the footwork steps, freezes, tricks and power moves that they like to do in combination.
Transitions done well are never truly seen as they are seamless in their execution and allow a B-Boy or B-Girl to keep a nice dynamic and smooth flow while breaking.
Examples of transitions are: sweeps, pretzels and spins.

6. Power Moves

Ami (R) of Japan competes against San Andrea of France during the Red Bull BC One World Final B-Girl Battle at Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland on September 29, 2018.

Ami powers through a windmill in the battle against San Andrea

© Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool

Power moves are the most dynamic element of breaking, and even though everything in breaking can be done with power a 'Power Move,' in generally, is when a B-Boy or B-Girl propels their whole body into a continued spinning or rotational motion, while balancing on their hands, elbows, head, back or shoulders. They also will either do one power move continuously in a sequence and end it in a freeze, or do a combination of different power moves, with one flowing into the other.
Examples of breaking power moves are: Head spins, flares, air flares, windmills and 1990s.

7. Tricks

Uzee Rock is standing on his elbow preparing to spin.

Uzee Rock pulling off the Uzee Spin against Victor

© Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

A trick in breaking is when a B-Boy or B-Girl takes a conventional breaking step, freeze or power move and adds an unconventional dimension and twist to it. Examples of this are: hopping air chairs, handstand walking in between air flares, or leg threading while doing hand hops.

8. Flips

Leony jumping off one leg while rotating upside down.

Leony from Brazil doing the Raiz, one of the most common flips

© Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool

Breaking is an acrobatic dance in general and breakers do also utilise many acrobatic flips and somersaults to give their throw downs an added dynamic to them. It's commonplace to see a breaker flip in between or into power moves, tricks or freezes.
And those are the eight basic elements of a throw down. A B-Boy or B-Girl will usually do at least three or more of these elements of the dance when throwing down. And the more highly skilled a breaker is the better they are at executing each element, as well as also combining the elements in a fresh, original, seamless and surprising way that fits and plays with the music.
You can see some of the basic elements of breaking in the ABC of ... Breaking.

25 min

ABC of... Breaking

Breaking legend Ronnie fills you in on all you need to know about this incredible dance form.

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