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It's More Than Juggling (Stalling)

FREESTYLE - what is it? STYLE COMES IN MANY SHAPES AND FORMS. Clothing styles change regularly and become fads for awhile. Cars come up with new styles every year to the delight of drivers everywhere. They also get more safety built into the style as time goes along. Style changes are the spice of life.

Footbag freestyle kicking is a beautiful exercise when allowed to grow from a solid base of a proper stance and basic kicks that go beyond the front/inside kick. Kickers everywhere (judging by my e-mail) are thirsting for some real instruction on how to kick a footbag in a manner which will provide ongoing, individual style development that is not injurious to their bodies. There is a way to learn how to do this activity that will provide a solid basis for a delightful lifetime activity that has nothing to do with juggling or even competition. For the basics on this type of kicking read "Footbag Dance" online.

IT TAKES BOLDNESS TO CHANGE ANYTHING...In sports, change has frequently been confrontational and resisted by the powers that be. Take Muhammed Ali (Casius Clay) for instance, who insisted his new style of boxing was fine (dancing and rope-a-dope). At first it was given no credance but he was so good the boxing world finally yeilded and other boxers followed his lead (Sugar Ray Leonard for instance). Then there was Don Carter whose unorthodox style was laughed at by the bowling world, but he was one of the best champions ever.

Other sports, like ice skating and gymnastics (both of which are in the Olympics) have allowed their athletes to make innovative style changes. In fact, style is what sportscasters talk about as they are narrating for the viewing audience. Also, these sports are responsive to audience appeal. Judging includes the reaction of the audience to the athlete. It would be a very dull and non-changing world if everyone had the same style in anything they do, sports or otherwise. Snowboarding and bungee jumping are going to the Olympics but footbag has not been recognized yet.

In 1983 I was introduced to the President of KennCorp, as "the best freestyle kicker in the world," by John Stallberger who had taken myself and my wife, Heather, to lunch, but I have never even made it to a final round of a WFA sanctioned "freestyle" event. This is because I do not juggle (or "shred") the footbag, or stop it repeatedly with various parts of my body. I kick the footbag (I do not use my knees, my head, my hands, or my nose or whatever) and keep it in the air for as long as possible, controlling it in a manner that allows me to make dance moves like triple spins within the time for the next kick. I can kick the footbag without looking at it now. Kicking the footbag is what I do and teach others to do. The freestyle part is what I do between my kicks.

Kickers everywhere need to know there is a real way to learn how to kick and that it produces a real freestyle that has amazing horizons, lending itself to unique development by each person. To do it, you have to get away from the currently dominant front/inside kick. These are the keys to Bloughchi, the style I have developed and taught scores of persons to use successfully and without injury.

Calling the footbag a hacky sack had to stop when a major company produced a footbag and trademarked it as a "Hacky Sack" which was Stalberger's term for the game. All in all footbag kicking has taken some rough blows. It is an emerging sport with a potentially enormous future because it employs what I call a "pocket gymnasium" - a simple footbag. It is a very democratic sport, almost anyone can acquire a footbag and begin. It does not require fancy or expensive equipment and gear.

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